How can anyone stop the Heat?

Chris Bosh (L), Dwyane Wade (C) and LeBron James show 10,000 fans their Miami Heat jerseys after signing 6 year contracts with the Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on July 9, 2010. UPI/Michael Bush Photo via Newscom

Longtime coach Don Casey has a few ideas, specifically the matchup zone

The matchup zone will accomplish the following against Miami:

1. It will neutralize the Heat’s athleticism.
2. It will disrupt Miami’s offensive rhythm.
3. It will impede the pick-and-roll drastically.
4. It will contain or push out or down Miami’s drive and kick plays.
5. It will force the Heat’s offense to take time. The matchup makes the shot clock your ally.
6. It will make the Heat a “catch and shoot” team. How many of those players does Miami have? I’m not talking about spot-up shooters; I’m talking about guys who can catch and shoot. I see maybe one, Mike Miller.
7. It will make Miami’s offense more routine, and the more routine an offense, the easier it is for a defense to groove into its schemes.
8. It can make Miami think “zone” even if the other team is back in man-to-man defense.

This is a tall order, for sure. If executed correctly, a good matchup zone can even the playing field. But most teams aren’t used to playing zone, while the Heat will see it quite often. This could be a bad combination.

Pick and rolls don’t work very well against zones, so the Heat will have to have a game plan that involves cutting and passing. A great spot to attack the zone is the short corner (along the baseline, just outside the paint). When a team runs a player along the baseline, he can pick and choose the open spots in the zone, catch a pass and possibly score or hit an open man for a bucket or a wide open jumper.

Players can’t just stand on one side or another against a zone, because it’s too easy for the defense to keep track of them. They need to move from side to side, along the baseline, up through the paint…whatever it takes to make the defense adjust.

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