Heat Clinch Eastern Conference with smart spending on defense
Two years from a Finals appearance, the Heat quietly clinched the top seed in the East for the first time since 2012-13 – when they last won a title.
But unlike that “Heatles” superteam – touting the offensive prowess of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade – it’s a more comprehensive defense-based edition.
Tyler Herro’s 20.8 PPG leads the Heat in scoring — but only ranks 25th in the NBA. Meanwhile, Miami lead the league in OPP FGM (37.4), OPP 3PT FG (33.9%) and OPP RPG (41.6) while allowing the penultimate PPG (105.3).
Miami Payroll of $140.8 million only eighth highest in the NBA – and executive Pat Riley’s decision to spend the money to build a defensive powerhouse paid off perfectly.
- Bam Adebayo has signed for five years, $163 million— The largest contract ever signed in Miami by total value. Opponents are shooting 32.7% against him.
- Gritty defender on the ball PJ Tucker joined champion Bucks on a over two years, $15 million deal.
- Five-time All-Defensive star Jimmy Butler has signed a four years, $184 million extension.
This rock-solid foundation is overseen by Erik Spoelstra, who is the most winning coach in franchise history (659) and has the second best rating to win his first Coach of the Year award (+700).
Miami is still a long way from winning it all (+1200) — but this season, in a league obsessed with threes and analytics, the Heat are here to prove defense still wins championships.