Heat Beat: Moving (the ball) forward

Miami buys into a new system that gets back to the basics of the game


MIAMI – Most Heat fans likely want to forget last year's NBA Finals. 

In case you've already vanished it from your mind, those Finals had the Spurs dominating the Heat in five games to win the NBA title.  But it's how they did it that's actually helping Miami early in this season.

Ball movement.

Sounds easy enough.  Moving the ball around.  Getting everyone involved.  Finding the open man. 

These are simple fundamentals of the game, but they're also things the Heat got away from as the Big Three era progressed.  It was hard to really criticize the team because Miami was still winning championships.  But trust me, it was eating away at head coach Erik Spoesltra.

The departure of LeBron James has now allowed the coach to get back to those basics. 

No more "hero ball." 

No more one person dribbles the ball until the final seconds of the shot clock. 

This is not a criticism of LeBron.  Actually, it's more another example of how great he is.  He can create things that other players can't; but he's gone, so Spoelstra knew early in camp things had to change.

What happened next was a return to Basketball 101.  Heat training camp practices were a tutorial on ball movement.  Some call it the "Spurs Way" because of how great San Antonio has become with this style of play.  Yet, the reality is it's just the fundamentals of the game. 

Heat players immediately bought into it.  Maybe it's because they wanted to show people they could still be a contender without LeBron, but they set egos aside and worked hard to prove they can win in a different way.

Three games into the season, we're already seeing results. 

The Heat had 33 assists in a win over Philadelphia. 

They continued to whip the ball around in an impressive victory over Toronto. 

And in three games the offense has put up 107, 114 and 107 points.  Those are impressive numbers for any team, especially one that lost the best player in the world during the offseason.

To expect Miami to do this every game is simply asking too much.  Great ball movement doesn't always lead to baskets because sometimes shots don't fall.  The Heat will hit funks where shots aren't dropping and the offense lacks efficiency.

Still, it's clear the players have brought into this system.  They're trusting their coach.  They're seeing that ball movement and spacing are so important in any successful offense.

If it took the Spurs dismantling them to make that point, then I guess something good came out of that awful series.