Denver’s Size Made A Big Difference
by Larry Turner

A recent article on the Internet noted that several members of the marketing team at one of the nation’s largest law firms were disciplined or severed beca-use of the“Size Matters” TV campaign designed and released by them. I won’t comment on that reaction by management, but I will support the relevance of the headline if it was referencing the Miami Heat and not a legal entity.

Although the Heat fared well in Game 2, it was only because its sharp shooters couldn’t miss. Even with that kind of support, it was obvious that Denver would often have its way under the net. Or should I say that Jokic often had his way
anywhere on the court.

Like many other teams in the league, the Heat have adopted what I call a “Hop & Pop” style of play. That is when one team gets the ball under the basket, runs or hops at top speed down the court, spots an open teammate anywhere in the arena, and that player tosses or pops up a shot regardless of where he is on the court. I personally don’t favor this rendition of the game and would rather see players working for positions for better shots, but Hop & Pop is the reality today.

That style of play works great when the shooters are on their games. When they are not, the “bigs” underneath have the upper hand and steamroll their ways to buckets and rebounds. The Hop & Pop devotees can’t keep up with the bulky guys when the play ends up under the rim. As an example, in the Finals, Denver had 11 more rebounds per game than the Heat. That usually results in points for the rebound leader and, ultimately, wins.

Denver has perhaps the epitome of size and skills in the person of Nikola Jokic who moves his 6’ 11” 284 lb. frame around the court with remarkable grace and, of course, force. Bam is big, but cannot match that of Jokic and, until the Heat adds somewhat comparable players, they will not be able to match up with the Denvers of the league.

In the last couple of games of the Finals, it appeared that the Heat decided to go with a defensive strategy and just enough offense to win if the defensive plan worked. But even that strategy fails when your opponent has size capable of executing a plan where the “bigs” get points underneath even when their sharp-shooting teammates are bottled up outside. Either way, the bulk has its way against most defenses, and Denver had enough offense to counter the Heat’s defensive attack.

It would be easy to lay the blame for the Heat’s losses on the injury to Herro or to the personal problems said to be plaguing Butler, but even with those two players at their best would not have made enough difference to dictate a reversal in result.

Miami has some shopping to do during the off-season. In pro basketball, size does matter.

Photography Courtesy Of The Miami Heat