Miami Heat

Miami Heat making strong early season statement with stifling defence

It's early days but the Miami Heat are restricting teams and making it hard to score with some hard-nosed defence.

Just over 10 days since opening night, they have the league's best defensive rating - 92.0, that's four percentage points better than second-placed Utah Jazz and seven percentage points better than third-placed Minnesota Timberwolves.

That's how good they have been early on. The difference in defensive rating between them and the Timberwolves is the same as the difference between the fourth and 17th ranked team.

In four of the five games, they have restricted teams to under 100 points and the only game they didn't was an overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers - who managed to just surpass the threshold with 102 points.

Their games so far have included wins against the Nets and Magic, both of whom rank in the bottom third of the league in offensive rating, and a season-opener against the defending champions where a number of Milwaukee's rotation players sat out.

So, in essence, the one impressive victory was their most recent one against the Hornets. The Heat showed that the defensive numbers from their previous games were a product of their effort and play, and not just the opponent.

Here's some perspective on their most recent win over the Charlotte Hornets.

It's just five games, which is a very small sample size, the Heat's defence is worth keeping an eye on because they have the players on their roster to bring the intensity on that end consistently.

Jimmy Butler, who led the league last season for steals per game, ranks third early this season with an average of 2.8 per game.

The team has five players - PJ Tucker, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Butler, Tyler Herro - in the league leaders for defensive rating among players averaging at least 20 minutes per game. Herro aside, defence is something that is associated with all of the players mentioned above.

So, getting ready to watch the 2021-22 Miami Heat? Prepare for spectacular two-way basketball because the Heat are firing on both ends early in 2021-22.

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