What if I told you that the Heat are the third-best team in the NBA? Would you believe me?
Well, it’s true. According to one of the most reliable team performance measures, the Heat have been the NBA’s third-best team since Jan. 17.
Based on net rating, the Warriors and Wizards are the only teams that have played better basketball than the Heat since then. Miami ranks third in net rating at 8.5 with the Warriors posting an NBA-best 14.4 net rating during this stretch.
What is net rating? It’s the difference between a team’s offensive and defensive ratings (OR-DR). Offensive rating is the amount of points a team scores per 100 possessions and defensive rating is the amount of points a team allows per 100 possessions, which helps to eliminate the pace factor.
For example, the Warriors rank 12th in points allowed per game (105.4) this season. But that number is so high because Golden State plays at the second-fasted pace in the league, which allows for opponents to have more offensive possessions and chances to score.
When you level the playing field to remove pace from the equation and adjust that number to “per 100 possessions” for every team, that’s a more accurate indication of how strong a team is. While Golden State ranks 12th in points allowed per game, it ranks second in defensive rating at 101.3.
So the fact that the Heat have the third-best net rating over the past 40 days is impressive. This is a solid sample size considering that Miami has played 18 games during this stretch, recording a 16-2 record.
To put all of this into perspective, the Heat ranked 24th with a net rating of -4.3 over the 41 games before this 18-game period.
It’s been a pretty incredible turnaround.