The Miami Heat: If Ya Aint Runnin’ With It, Run From It

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

I’m on record as being very pro-NBA Voltron. I really wanted to see LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh play on the same team. Not because I want them to succeed — or even care if they do — but just because I wanted to enjoy watching the moments of greatness that would be achieved by a team featuring two of the three best players in the world. Will they win a bunch of titles? It’s hard to believe they won’t take home a few based on skill alone, but I’m not even talking about that type of season-long, seven-game-series winning greatness. I just simply wanted to see several-minute-long stretches of amazing basketball being played.

My desire to see LeBron and Wade play together comes from purely selfish reasons. I love watching amazing basketball, and these two guys play it very often. Simple as that. Throw in Bosh and things could get historic at times. We might see some random, throwaway quarters and halves of basketball in December or February that rank among the best that have ever been played.

Never is this possibility more apparent than when these guys get out in the open court. LeBron on the break is the equivalent of Karl Malone times Latrell Sprewell with Shawn Kemp’s ability to finish. Dwyane is nearly as ruthless with the ball in the open court — just ask Anderson Varejao. Combine the two and the outcome can get just downright silly.

Well guess what? They are starting to run.

Looking at the data, the Heat stepped on the gas in Dallas after a series of sleepy games peppered with stagnant half court offense. Their transition rate (percentage of transition plays as part of their overall offense) over their last seven games has been above their seasonal average of 13.4 percent.

Thanks to their acceleration lately, the Heat now rank 12th in the NBA in transition rate which is still below where many think they should be. But if we believe their recent transition game is a permanent switch, then their 16.5 percent average over the past seven games would rank head and shoulders above the entire NBA; the Pacers and Bulls currently lead the league with 14.7 percent of their possessions in transition.

The writer of this piece, the excellent Tom Haberstroh, notes that as the run more, they are also improving at it. LeBron started out the season sloppy, turning the ball over too often on the break. “Maybe he was pressing in his new digs and trying to do too much for the fans,” writes Haberstroh. Perhaps. But whatever it is that made him turn the ball over a staggering 18 times in transition in Miami’s first 19 games seems to have been solved — he only has one giveaway in the open court in his last four outings.

And the players are starting to embrace the break. Look at the video below. A 2-on-1 break by LeBron and Wade after a made basket leads to an easy score.

That’s nuts.

Buckle your seat belts.

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