On the . :
Peninsula is Mightier / Miami Herald
Milwaukee begins a three-game stretch against Floridian teams in Miami against the hot Heat, winners of six straight and 18 of 19. Drew Gooden (plantar fasciitis) is not traveling with team.FanHouse: Mesmerizing photo of James and Wade was one incredible 'feet'
BrewHoop favorite (and Milwaukeean) Rob Peterson gets the story straight from AP photographer Morry Gash on the photograph at the top of this story.
The Heat won a comfortable 96-82 decision in Charlotte last night, breaking open a close game with a 31-16 third quarter in which LeBron James scored 15 points in the final 4:33.
Not inside, not outside.
The most efficient shots in the NBA are shots at the rim and three-pointers.
Miami is dominant at protecting the rim, third best in the NBA allowing opponents to shoot just 58.5 % at the rim (for comparison, the Kings are the worst allowing opponents to shoot 71.7 % at the rim). This is particularly bad news for Milwaukee, who converts at an NBA-worst 55.4 % at the rim (stats through Dec. 29).
But the Heat also boast the very best three-point defense in the NBA, holding opponents to a ridiculously low 31.8 % from outside. The Bucks are shooting 33.8 % from deep.
Interestingly, the Heat also have the best free throw defense, as opponents are making just 72.9 % from the line. So Miami has the top opposing field goal (.423), three point (.318), and free throw percentages (.728) in the NBA. Swell news for the worst offense in the NBA.
At 27-9, the Heat have the fourth best record in the NBA (behind the Spurs, Celtics, and Mavericks) but they have best point differential at +9.6 per game. That is the best point differential since Celtics were +10.3 in 2007-08 and is the second best overall since 2005-06. The Bucks currently rank 20th at -1.9.
The Heat won 15 out of 16 games in December, and not only did the team score more points than the opposition in 15 of 16, but the Heat also happened to have the leading scorer in 15 of 16 -- the only time a Miami player did not lead all scorers in December was in their one loss, when Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 to down the Heat.
Obviously the Heat are really top-heavy offensively, so this isn't shocking, but still something of a striking statistical rule to follow for an entire month.
Very good at beating the bad.
I mentioned in the Dallas recap that the Mavericks have fared particularly well against the best teams in the NBA. These days the Heat are beating every level of competition -- but overall this year they have been especially devastating against the lesser teams.
Miami has not lost to a team with a record as poor as Milwaukee this season. They have only dropped two games to currently sub-.500 teams: the 14-18 Pacers and 15-19 Grizzlies, not exactly the weakest competition going.
The Bucks (already with losses to the Timberwolves, 76ers, Cavaliers, Pistons, and various portions of the Blazers) have not subscribed to the idea of beating teams they should beat.
No MVP for LeBron?
LeBron James said he doesn't think he can win the MVP now that he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Which is at once probably true and definitely ridiculous. Probably true because voters will hold his superior teammates against him, with Wade possibly even splitting some of his vote the way he is playing lately. And definitely ridiculous because for an individual award, the individual award, that shouldn't much matter if James is... you know, the most valuable player. And after a full season, there is a mighty good chance that he will be.
Right now, my ten looks a little something like this: Paul, Howard, James, Nowitzki, Bryant, Durant, Williams, Wade, Ginobili, Rose.