MIAMI — At 13-13, the Heat are now in position to make their run.
Miami returns home on a two-game winning streak to face Portland on Wednesday. The Heat will play nine of their next 13 games at home, and only two of those contests come against winning teams — at Boston on Dec. 20 and vs. Detroit on Jan. 3.
Here are five tidbits of info from the Heat’s first 26 games of the season …
* Obviously, defense is a big part of the Heat’s winning formula. In its 13 wins this season, Miami has allowed 95.5 points per 100 possessions. In its 13 losses, Miami has allowed 113.3 points per 100 possessions. This 17.8-point difference between the Heat’s defensive rating in wins and losses is the biggest disparity in the NBA. The Bucks are second with a 16.4-point gap between their defensive ratings. What does this mean? Miami has been pretty inconsistent on this end of the floor. It also means the Heat aren’t going to win many games that they aren’t playing quality defense in.
* Heat rookie Bam Adebayo is averaging 4.7 screen assists over the past six games while Hassan Whiteside has been out with a bone bruise on his left knee. Adebayo ranks seventh in the league in screen assists during this stretch behind only Phoenix’s Tyson Chandler (7.0), Detroit’s Andre Drummond (5.3), Chicago’s Robin Lopez (5.3), Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (5.1), Memphis’ Marc Gasol (4.9) and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic (4.9). In comparison, Whiteside is averaging 2.3 screen assists per game this season.
* There’s no question that Kelly Olynyk’s ability to stretch the floor as a 7-footer makes Miami a better offensive team. With Olynyk on the court this season, the Heat have posted a quality offensive rating of 107.7. When Olynyk is not playing, the Heat have recorded a subpar offensive rating of 98.0. And if you’re thinking, what are the defensive numbers? Olynyk doesn’t seem to be hurting the Heat’s defense as much as some think. Miami has posted a 105.7 defensive rating with Olynyk on the court compared to 103.3 without him.
* The Pistons are the only team in the league using the dribble hand-off more than the Heat. Miami ranks second in the NBA, as it’s used the hand-off on 9.3 percent of its offensive possessions. Wayne Ellington has been the main beneficiary. He leads the NBA with 31.2 percent of his possessions (which end in a shot, shooting foul or turnover) coming on hand-offs and he’s scoring an impressive 1.24 points per each of these possessions.
* As the Heat continue to search for consistency on the defensive end, their defense at the rim is one of the best in the league. Miami ranks second in opponent field-goal percentage within six feet of the basket (58.0 percent). Only Portland has been better in this category, limiting opponents to 56.9 percent shooting within six feet of the basket.