Film Study: When The Heat Aren’t Engaged

VIDEO: Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks handle the Heat at MSG

NEW YORK — This week’s Film Study could look a lot like last week’s. For the second straight Thursday night, a team picked apart the Miami Heat’s pick-and-roll defense.

The New York Knicks only scored 102 points (compared to the Warriors’ 123 last week) in their victory on Thursday, but it was a very slow-paced game. The Knicks had the ball just 86 times, so, in terms of efficiency, they were on par with what the Warriors did against the Heat in a much faster game a week earlier.

New York actually scored less than a point per possession (43/47) in the first half. But in the final 24 minutes, they scored a remarkable 59 points on just 39 possessions.

Like the Warriors, they executed well. The Knicks got the Heat defense moving with pick-and-roll, they moved the ball to the open man, and they made shots, hitting nine of their 16 mid-range jumpers and seven of their 18 above-the-break threes.

Having a healthy point guard helps. Raymond Felton racked up 14 assists on Thursday, while committing just two turnovers. He’s been in and out of the lineup this season, and not very effective when he’s been (relatively) healthy.

But last season, the No. 3 offense in the league was at its best when Felton was on the floor. A healthy dosage of pick-and-rolls keeps the Knicks from getting too iso-heavy and allows Carmelo Anthony to shoot off the catch, instead of off the dribble. Though Anthony led the league in usage rate last season, Felton had the ball in his hands about 70 percent more (5:40 per game vs. 3:21 per game, according to SportVU).

So, going forward, the Knicks will be better if Felton is healthy and they’re moving the ball. They’re most efficient when they’re picking and rolling, which was the game plan on Thursday. They knew that the Heat could be beat and open shots could be had with quick passes and ball reversals. And they took care of the ball against the team that has forced more turnovers per 100 possessions than any team in the last 15 seasons.

The Heat can be the best defensive team in the league when they want to be. But they generally don’t want to be during the regular season. Their disruptive defensive scheme requires a lot of energy, more than they can come up with over 82 games.

And while the Knicks deserve a ton of credit for their offensive execution, the Heat were clearly not at their best defensively. Here are some examples from a stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters when the Knicks turned a three-point deficit into an 11-point lead …

Play 1 – Ole!

With the Heat up three late in the third quarter, Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire ran a side pick-and-roll. Dwyane Wade came to help from the weak side, but, instead of putting himself between Stoudemire and the basket, he just swiped at the ball as he ran by. And that’s not going to get it done.

VIDEO: Dwyane Wade’s pick-and-roll defense leaves much to be desired

Play 2 – Ole! Part II

A couple of possessions later, the ball was swung to Andrea Bargnani, who was being defended by Chris Bosh, who bought on a pump fake from a guy who has shot 30 percent from 3-point range over the last three seasons. Wade again comes over to help and again just takes a swipe at the ball. The result is an and-one and a lead the Knicks would never relinquish.

VIDEO: Andrea Bargnani easily drives on the Heat defense

Play 3 – Amar’e all alone

Two possessions after that, Norris Cole and Rashard Lewis double-teamed Anthony in the corner. After the ball was swung around the perimeter, Stoudemire was wide open under the basket, because neither Cole nor Lewis rotated.

VIDEO: Norris Cole, Rashard Lewis fail to rotate on defense

The Heat’s semi-lackluster play spilled over to the offensive end of the floor. As the Knicks were making their run, Miami scored just two points (against a bottom-10 defensive team) over 10 possessions spanning the third and fourth quarters. They weren’t attacking and they often settled for a decent shot when a better one could have been had with a little more work.

Play 4 – Carelessness

This is just a careless pass by Chris Andersen as Cole curls out from the baseline. Andersen takes one hand off the ball and doesn’t wait until Cole has created any separation from Felton.

VIDEO: Chris Andersen throws a careless pass to Norris Cole

Play 5 – Settling

Here, Wade settles for a contested, mid-range jumper early in the shot clock instead of running the offense and putting pressure on the Knicks’ D.

VIDEO: Dwyane Wade takes the contested shot rather than pressure the Knicks’ defense

The Heat have had their moments this season, but there have been a lot of games/halves/quarters/possessions when they’ve been disengaged. The same was true early last season and they went on to win 27 straight games and their second straight championship. But even in the playoffs, they seemed to turn their defense on and off, failing to win consecutive games against the Pacers or Spurs until they pulled out Games 6 and 7 in The Finals.

They still have LeBron James and they’re still the favorite to win another title. But in the middle of the season, you’re going to see teams take advantage of their indifference.


  1. Kevo says:

    A true championship team will not let off the gas pedal, no matter what. The Dynasty Bulls didn’t, even when Pippen went down in their sixth championship season. The Heat taking the regular season for granted will come back to haunt them.

    I see the Pacers ending them in the Conference Finals.

  2. Richard says:

    Bosh is the determinant of the threepeat. If wade and bosh can put up 17-20 points a game in the playoffs and let lebron facilitate, miami will win. Without a confident and efficient big three, lebron will fail in carrying the team on his own.

  3. jdub455 says:

    the heat will always be the heat come playoffs time… they wont get beaten when it matters… that just how it is… during the season, they will be beaten several times just because their opponents have so much energy more than they do. every player that goes on the court against them will give it their best, be it a starter or an off the bench player. i think it will only be the spurs that can give them trouble, that is if they will reach the west finals of course. this is why i think, getting mason jr. was not only impt as him playin and shooting some 3s but also his familiarity with the spurs D which almost knock them off last yrs finals… NY will always be a good team, (in fact they are way way better than there record), but will not beat the Heat in a series. PERIOD.

  4. pakyu says:

    back to back lossess to bad teams and everyone loses their mind. come on, i know they will bounce back, this could be the wake up call they need, they need to sharpen up. if this to lossess mean anything to the heat, it’s that they can realize that they are beatable. not by good teams, but also teams on the lower part. they now should realize that they are not invincble.

  5. charles says:

    Heat are going to get it together and finish off the roadtrip with wins and for repeating this year they will because you have the best player in the world on your team as well as top 5 player d wade and you got chris bosh and the best three point shooter h=in history in ray allen pacers are going to be a challenge but greg oden will help us out down low with hibbert and we still have birdman to help defenesively and the only players pacers have is pg hibbert and west they have no consistent bench play.

  6. Let's go Heat says:

    Although I am a Heat fan, I do see the Heat cannot make good defense. Well-known poor rebound. This season plus one more: poor defense on pick-on-roll. For the loss in Nets, why did the coach Spo put CB to guard Joe Johnson in the late-Q4? Without D-wade, CB and Ray Allen did not step up. Rely on LBJ, he stick with the ball, no ball movement -> LOSS

    • mee(a)t says:

      He did a nice job on Joe Johnson, that’s why he stuck with it. I think he only made 4 points in the second half.

  7. mee(a)t says:

    i’m sorry but really? Whats with the many excuses that the people are giving for the Heat. You people are literally saying that the Heat can win whenever they want. Am i the only one who thinks that disrespectful to the teams who worked hard just to beat this team? The Heat are a strong team, they are not gods. Yes the Knicks (and the Nets) didn’t play for a championship but for the sake of competition, players play HARD to WIN. Don’t discredit their efforts with cop-outs like “the Heat wasn’t trying, they gave them that win”

    • KNICKSFOSHO says:

      yes thank you imma knicks fan and i appreciate it that you respect the energy that the knicks put together for 4 quarters

    • henriquebfs says:

      Sounds a little disrespectful, but its the truth. You seen that last year, you seen the year before… theyre that good. The pacers disappeared game 7 last year, just to point out one game. If i were a pacers fan, by the way, i would worry a little bit about PG minutes, hes gonna need some rest to get the heat this year. I dont think Miami can threepeat, if they make it to the finals i think my OKC can beat them now. But, for me, theres no question they are the team to beat. Heat are not showing their real face in regular season.

  8. HATERS4LIFE says:

    Heat will not be able to win this year. That’s for sure. Too many contenders, lebron alone can’t carry heat against the pacers this year cause the pacers are playing amazing basketball. James should be happy with two rings.

    • HATERS4LIFE says:

      Heat’s offense is ugly with King james fouled out in the overtime game against the nets. Back to back loss to NY with their “lackadaisical” defense.

  9. okc2014 says:

    The article states correct, the Miami Heat are playing with indifference. It’s not so much that the Knicks played so spectacular as the Heat just played mediocre. I’ve said this before: the Heat are bored and just dangling their trophy over everyone’s head. The regular season is where they “rest”, timeout, let other teams win I guess. I would rather they show us what they’ve got right now. Because I agree, other teams are going to step up and play even harder. Don’t sleep!

  10. kobeballhog says:

    lmao knicks another wannabe one game guys one game does it bring championship to your beloved knicks? whos team is in the finals for 3 straight years? after one game knicks fanboys celebrated like they won the championship lol, your team is still in the dumps, heck the raptors is playing better than your knicks just look at the standings and see where your knicks are.

  11. LEGGOHEAT says:

    Miami heat is the best team, always has been and always will be for the next several decades. Their real games start when the playoff starts. Regular season games are their toys.

    • zaleda says:

      really dude? several decades?….. ur talking about 30-40 years…… and so much for “is the best team, always been” they got beat by the mavs before the won another championship and did you forget that they had a .01% chance of winning a championship before lbj came?

  12. daniel says:

    tru words, champs need some rest

  13. BarioMalotelli says:

    Thank God Miami Heat is such a generous team that don’t want to play it’s brilliant defense all the time and they let such bad teams as NY win some games. I always thought you can win some games just by giving all you got, but now I know it’s only because the better team let you win.

  14. Witness says:

    The Knicks were all hyped actin like they just won a ring and the whole Garden crowd was on their feet lol

  15. jacob hayfaz says:

    i went to the game best game ever