It's become clear that the Miami Heat have no solution to the gaping problems the team faces on the defensive glass. Miami finished the regular season an abysmal 24th in defensive rebounding percentage; in Saturday's Game 6, the Indiana Pacers picked up 15 of 39 opportunities on the offensive glass, or 38 percent. Indiana is typically excellent in that category as both Roy Hibbert and David West do great things on the glass. But it's been a difference-maker against Miami. It's allowed the Pacers to maintain an efficient offense in all but Game 5 over this series.
As you might guess, that's the one game this series in which the Pacers didn't get too many offensive rebounds (six in 32 chances.)
Here's a look at offensive rebounding and overall offensive numbers for Indiana.
The similarity in the shapes of each trend line is telling. Indiana has been rebounding well offensively most of the series. When they have done it really well, their offense has been really great. In the one game in which they rebounded offensively at a poor level, the offense was poor.
Miami's defense has been pretty poor overall in this series -- the Pacers were No. 22 in shooting in the regular season, but hit 50 percent in Game 6. For the series, Indiana's effective field goal percentage is exactly .500. That compares favorably to the Pacers' regular season mark of .479, Miami's defensive regular season mark of .487 and the league average mark of .496.
So while we continue to heap attention on the faltering offense of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (each having a pretty horrible series), it's primarily been Miami's inability to stop the Pacers' typically underwhelming offense that has led us to Game 7. Only one game has really fit expectations: Game 5, in which Miami's offense overcame the top-ranked Indiana defense and in which Indiana's usually mediocre offense caved.
Even if Miami wins Game 7 at home, this is a daunting problem because while San Antonio isn't big on offensive rebounding, the Spurs have a superb offense. So if the Heat survive this challenge, it's a shaky proposition they'll survive the next one and repeat as champions. Of course, San Antonio's defense isn't as good as that of Indiana (though it is good).
In the end, given that defensive rebounding looked like Miami's single weakness all season long, it's fitting that said weakness has put the team in danger of falling short of its championship goal. While Indiana's offensive performance seems bizarre given the Pacers' usual struggles on that end, the Heat's inability to stop second chances has been there all along for us to see. It's just now costing Miami games, at the most critical point of the season.
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