Heat hope to rebound from poor effort on boards
Coming off a rare home loss, the Miami Heat will try to rebound against the Washington Wizards.
That could be tough, because the Heat haven't rebounded well all season.
Poor board work was the focus of a team meeting Saturday. Players didn't practice but did review video of every rebound in Friday's home loss to the Chicago Bulls, when the Heat were outrebounded 48-28.
"This is something that we're going to fix," coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Heat rank last in the NBA in rebounds, and while they nonetheless have the best record in the Eastern Conference, the team's biggest weakness could undermine its bid for a championship repeat.
"We're improving in so many other areas, particularly offensively," Spoelstra said. "Rebounding's the area that has to take the priority right now."
The Heat rank first in the league in field goal percentage, second in 3-point shooting, third in turnovers and fourth in points per game. But they're being outrebounded by 2.8 per game.
"We've got to go out and do it," LeBron James said. "If the ball is in your region, try to go up and get it. If not, box out your guy and let somebody else go get it."
The Heat are smaller than most of their opponents, and the majority of their players- including James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - are rebounding at about the same rate as a year ago for the title team. James, in fact, is averaging a career-best 8.5 rebounds per game.
Even so, Spoelstra expects more.
"We have enough guys who are capable of it," he said. "Individually guys are capable of doing their job better, either block out or chase down rebounds. We need to have some career years from guys on the glass."
The Heat had only four offensive rebounds against Chicago, but Spoelstra said poor work on the defensive boards bothers him most. The Bulls missed 44 shots and grabbed 19 of them while sending the Heat to only their third home defeat.
Miami was outscored 20-7 in second-chance points and is allowing 15.5 per game, second-worst in the league.
"It's hard not to have your spirit collapsed," Spoelstra said. "It can be deflating when you have a great defensive possession for 18 or 22 seconds, and then it turns into an offensive rebound and you have to do it all over again."
Miami will face the Bulls three more times during the regular season, and perhaps in the playoffs as well, which made the mismatch on the boards that much more worrisome.
When chasing missed shots, Spoelstra said, the Heat didn't respond well to the Bulls' physical style.
"This one was a little bit more about hand-to-hand combat, holding your own, group rebounding, getting guys into the fray, into the pack and not spectating and really competing after each ball," the coach said.
The challenge Miami faces Sunday will be slightly less daunting. Washington lost in two overtimes Friday against Brooklyn to fall to 4-27.
"On Sunday we must win," Bosh said, "and we must rebound to win."
Notes: Guard Terrel Harris was waived Saturday. He played in seven games and scored 10 points.