Streak Vs. Streak, O Vs. D

BOSTON — It’s streak vs. streak on ESPN Friday (8 p.m. ET), when the Miami Heat, winners of 12 straight games, host the Memphis Grizzlies, winners of eight straight.

The Heat have seemingly flipped the switch after coasting through the first half of the season. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have found their legs after losing three of their first four games in the wake of the Rudy Gay trade.

The two streaks have been quite different. One has been a result of ridiculously efficient offense, while the other has come with some stifling D. And you can probably guess which is which.

The Heat … are hot

Led by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Heat offense seemingly can’t be stopped. Over their last 12 games, they’ve scored an amazing 117.5 points per 100 possessions to take over the No. 1 spot in offensive efficiency for the season.

Heat efficiency

Games OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
First 43 109.0 2 101.6 11 +7.4 3
Last 12 117.5 1 102.1 10 +15.4 2

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Crazy note: The Heat rank only second in NetRtg over the course of their winning streak. Thanks to a few blowouts, the Thunder (7-3 since Feb. 3) have had a better point differential and the Pacers (8-3) are just a hair behind Miami.

The Heat’s shooting during the streak has been pretty ridiculous. James has shot 65 percent, while Wade and Chris Bosh have each shot better than 53 percent. Four different guys have attempted at least 40 threes and shot them at 40 percent or better.

That kind of shooting just isn’t fair, and it’s been the the most important aspect of the Heat’s offensive improvement. But we shouldn’t overlook a decrease in turnovers, from 14.6 per 100 possessions before the streak to just 12.8 over the last 12 games.

Not only has the streak taken the Heat to No. 1 in offensive efficiency this season, but it has them among the top offenses of the last 36 seasons. They’re scoring 8.1 points per 100 possessions more than the league average, a difference that ranks third among all teams since the league started counting turnovers in 1977.

Biggest difference, team vs. league OffRtg, since 1977-78

Season Team OffRtg League Diff.
2003-04 Dallas 109.6 100.0 9.53
2004-05 Phoenix 111.9 103.1 8.82
2012-13 Miami 110.9 102.8 8.08
2001-02 Dallas 109.5 101.6 7.89
2012-13 Oklahoma City 110.7 102.8 7.88
2009-10 Phoenix 112.7 104.9 7.82
2006-07 Phoenix 111.4 103.7 7.69
1981-82 Denver 111.7 104.2 7.47
1996-97 Chicago 111.1 103.7 7.46
1991-92 Chicago 112.8 105.4 7.45

The Heat have played four top 10 defenses during the streak, but they’ve also played six bottom-10 defenses. In their last two games, against No. 28 Cleveland and No. 30 Sacramento, the Heat and their opponents have combined to score about 119 points per 100 possessions.

Miami’s last loss came against the Pacers, the only team that ranks higher defensively than Friday’s opponent.

Grizzlies’ defense only getting better

The Grizzlies have actually improved on both ends of the floor…

Grizzlies efficiency

Games OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
First 48 99.9 23 97.6 2 +2.4 8
Last 8 104.0 16 94.0 2 +10.0 4

But they’ve scored less than a point per possession in each of their last three games, including an ugly 76-72 victory in Brooklyn on Sunday. So while there’s more of a difference in their offensive numbers, there’s been more consistency from the D.

And so far, Tayshaun Prince looks like a key piece in the improvement. The Grizz have allowed just 89.3 points per 100 possessions in Prince’s 329 minutes on the floor. And the new starting lineup has allowed just 88.7 points per 100 possessions in 200 minutes together.

(Interesting note: The best league’s best defensive lineup that has played at least 100 minutes together is a Raptors’ lineup that includes Rudy Gay.)

Here’s the asterisk with the Grizzlies’ streak: Only two of their last eight opponents — Golden State and Brooklyn — have winning records. And only two others — Dallas and Toronto — are somewhat decent. That makes Friday’s game in Miami a huge test for that improved defense.


  1. mark says:

    the heat is in the new level right now. Heat will win.

  2. heatnation says:

    i like the grizzlies but they wont get out the west this season so it really doesn’t matter if they win tonight or not.


  3. tonx says:

    Grizzs goin down tonight. They will not score more than 90 points!

  4. Big Grizzlies fan says:

    They can handle Marc and Zbo down low and mike conley up top.. The Grizz will win again in miami.

  5. Grizzlies Will Win This Game (.) <—–

  6. Gil L. says:

    Other previous games cannot be based/compared on future games…But the level of play by MIAMI is so high, please remember, it’s not yet playoffs….When games in May and June come, the HEAT will elevate their level of games…Late June comes, we will be hearing news that the HEAT are the Champions again.

  7. Gil L. says:

    Regular season games are totally different from PlayOffs,…HEAT are the team to beat until Finals…They’re very hard to beat when they’re all healthy.

  8. Blake says:

    The 2nd half of the season is when things tend to get serious, has the playoffs are right around the corner (The Real Season) Expect to see the best out of teams during the 2nd half of the season.. And so far thats what I’ve been hearing from The Heat. Complete domination. If they keep this up, It’s gonna be no problem for them heading back to the finals.

  9. Pretty sure the Grizz won by 20+ last time these teams met, and everyone predicted Miami to dominate.

    Should be a great game tonight between two of the top 5 teams in the league!

    • dattebayo says:

      I watched that game and as a basketball fan, I was really disappointed with the Heats poor effort and bad defense. The Grizzlies had a lot of energy and hustle and Wade played very lackluster and without effort. He forced up a lot of bad shots, cried foul to the refs and never got back on defense. The Grizzlies got a lot of open looks from three that way and Ellington knocked ’em down like crazy. The Grizzlies went 14-24 from three, the Heat went 4-15 from three.
      I really hope this game will be more competitive…

  10. NHbleedsGREEN says:

    I think the best possible match up would be the spurs.
    Lebron did lose to them in his 1st finals,(revenge factor)
    Big 3 duncan,parker,manu vs. bron,wade,bosh
    and spurs bench is for real. Do you think that Heat
    could sit their big 3 and still win a game,doubt it!

  11. ben says:

    If the Grizz can stay efficient and energized, they have a great chance. Go Grizz!

  12. Rocks says:

    The Heat is definitely the team to beat. And it’s almost impossible to beat them when their AllStar players play at the highest level. Their bench is also a force to reckon with. I think we are starting to see the probabilities of the Heat defending their title escalating with every game. But hey, this is a 82 game season so anything can happen. Like the Pacers catching fire in the post season and producing one of the biggest upset? Mmmh….But unlike any other team’s winning streak, when the champions make a streak its more like a statement than just winning. Any match up of the Heat against top 4 teams in the west will always be fun to watch. The Grizz won’t go down easy. They always fight hard and leave everything on the floor. But I see their streak ending before the Heat. Sorry Memphis!

    • theholyspectator says:

      very true @rocks. heat are straight up dominating right now, playing on the level they play in playoffs…i cant imagine them being any more better than they are now, hope shane battier is playin tonight..they were missing his 3s against the kings…as long as the big 3 are healthy in the playoffs, miami is repeating…too quick, too fast, too talented and they suffocate opponents with their defense you just cant stop em

    • Brent Newsome says:

      The Heat are my second favorite team behind Memphis. Sorry Heat are going down. The Heat have yet to beat Memphis since they acquired Lebron James!!! Take that as an interesting fact!!!!

      • Dugan says:

        @Brent, Saturday March 12th 2011. Dwade + Lebron combined for 55 points for the win over the Grizz. Final score 118 – 85 , take that as an interesting fact.

      • Jason says:

        Another interesting fact Mr. Dugan… The last time these teams met? MIA 86 @ MEM 104

    • Oh hai der says:

      Only way they can get on fire is if Granger feels better and can produce more.