Miami's offense has been a sight to see. LeBron James and the Heat rank first in the NBA with an offensive rating of 112.8 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com, and are scoring 105.1 points per game despite playing with a pace that's in the bottom third of the league.
So of course, it's obvious that something on the defensive end is going wrong considering the team's 4-3 start to the season. James put it bluntly.
LeBron: "We're playing like s--- defensively."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) November 11, 2013
It's an early but telling sense of urgency coming from the reigning MVP, who also said that Boston forward Jeff Green's shot that pushed the rebuilding Celtics over Miami 111-110 on Saturday was much needed.
LeBron says the Heat "needed" Jeff Green to make that shot. Said Heat would have felt too good about themselves if they won.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) November 11, 2013
So just how bad is the Miami defense? In the loss to the Celtics, the Heat's offense shot 57.7 percent from the field, had 26 assists to just 10 turnovers and got to the free throw line 34 times. Though crucial free throw misses down the stretch and the 11 total points left at the foul stripe had something to do with the final result, it all came back to the defense.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Miami is 28th in the NBA by giving up 108.2 points per 100 possessions. Most of the damage is being done in the paint, which also alludes to the Heat being one of the worse rebounding teams in the league. Shot-blocking is one issue for a size-deficient team. Miami is the third-worst team in the NBA thus far by allowing opponents to hit 66.9 percent of shots in the restricted area, but blame also could be put on the perimeter players for defensive rotation issues or simply a lack of effort.
That James is openly criticizing his team doesn't mean it's time to panic, of course. While the Heat work out the defensive kinks, they can continue riding an offense of masterful ball movement.