Much has been made of the Miami Heat’s offense this season and what is percieved at times to be a mash of isolation plays. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Heat employs four simple concepts with many variations from those sets to form a rather elaborate, difficult to defend set of plays, if executed properly.
The design seems to be based on the same simple concepts that Pat Riley has used for many years with some minor tweaking from modern concepts learned in the latest guard renaissance in the NBA. This will serve as a brief tutorial, and primer for what the Heat will usually employ on game nights.
All of these concepts have a variation for zone defenses, which concentrate on down screens to create open spaces in which to pass to. From here on in, the passer will be refereed to as the “trigger man”, as in “trigger” for the play to be run.
“Triangle” Corner Concept
The “Corners” concept is basically a overload. The #1 brings the ball up and passes to the #2 on a wing while the other three players form a line from elbow to elbow. The #1 then runs the lane and cuts to the Corner that will be overloaded. The #3 replaces the #1 as the trigger for a new set at the top of the key. The #4 flashes to the post to receive a entry pass or get the call from the #2 for a pick and roll. Then the set is recycled to get as many triangle looks as possible, attempting to gain a “positive” switch (mismatch).
In any UCLA concept offense, the #3 dives to the weak side block when the ball is at the top of the key controlled by the #1 or #2. The #4 is usually at the elbow position ready to flash to set a screen or receive a pass at the high post. This concept usually starts with two perimeter passes that leads to a pass to the #4 at the high post where the original trigger man receives a hand off, looks for a cutter, or takes it to the rim.
The Fist concept is designed to be triggered by the #1 and usually leads to open looks from the 3 point line. The #1 dribbles toward a wing where the #2 and #3 are at opposite corners. The #2 and #3 then switch corners through the baseline setting natural picks, or actual picks causing a switch. The #4 sits at the free throw line, waiting for a open look from the #1, ready to crash the glass after a shot, or filling the lane if the defense makes a mistake and switches with the wrong man. The #5 trails the play.
The rarest of the sets the Miami Heat runs starts with the #2 and #3 always down low with the #4 and #5 up high and them switching as the trigger (#1) passes to the first wing to come off his screen. That then triggers the play with whoever down screened, now screening to the baseline and whoever screened on the baseline, now filling high. This creates what can only be described as a musical chairs type dance as 4 guys are constantly moving in a square.
Now, these are the concepts the Miami Heat’s offense is built upon. But as we all know and coach Erik Spoelstra has said before, sometimes the best offense is to just give the ball to Dwyane or Lebron and “get the *bleep* out of their way.”