The Heat’s defense has been spectacular this postseason, allowing just 101.7 points per 100 possessions. That’s good for third-best in the playoffs, and it’s even an improvement over their top five defensive performance during the regular season. They’ve allowed 100 or more points just once in their 14 playoff games, and they’ve clamped down in crunch time to the point where it doesn’t even matter that their last few seconds shooting percentages were terrible all year long. For all the talent they have offensively, it’s their defense that’s been winning them games.
You can chalk that up to strategies or a team buying in to what their coach is selling or any number of things, but the Heat’s defensive abilities really come down to one simple thing, which Derrick Rose explained last night.
“It’s extremely hard,” Rose acknowledged, “when a 6-8 guy can easily defend you.”
Yes, that does seem like a pretty nice advantage to have on that side of the ball. Having a strong, fast, athletic guy who can guard anyone from the league’s quickest guards to its strongest post players is a definite defensive weapon. And when the league’s MVP, a guy who looks unstoppable almost always, says that he makes things “extremely hard” and that he can “easily defend [him],” that’s impressive. Then, add to that another guy who has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team three times and is the shortest player to ever have 100 blocks in a season, and you can kind of understand just how hard it is to score against the Heat.
Obviously the Heat are more than one guy on defense. They are more than two guys. They’re a whole team of guys with long arms who are committed to shutting down the other team, plus Mike Bibby. However, having LeBron James at their disposal certainly makes things easier.
Unless Rose was talking about another 6-8 guy. James Jones, maybe?