Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Miami Heat team president Pat Riley constructed this year’s version of the Heat, critics pointed to the only perceived flaw the team had: no big man to keep the Heat competitive in the rebounding battle.
During the season, the Heat addressed this by signing center Chris Andersen to help out Chris Bosh on the boards. Andersen came in and electrified the roster with his energy and his willingness to do the little things like rebounding to help the team.
Miami used a rebounding by committee approach through most of the season and it worked almost to perfection as the Heat had the best regular season record that included a 27-game winning streak. But in the Eastern Conference Finals, everything changed for the Eastern Conference champion Heat.
The Indiana Pacers’ length, specifically 7’2” Roy Hibbert, 6’9” David West, and 6’8” Paul George, all helped to hammer the Heat on the offensive and defensive glass. During the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers outrebounded the Heat by an average margin of 42.6-34.9.
In the Heat’s losses, Indiana dominated the boards and when the Heat won, Miami either won the rebounding battle or at least kept it close. In the Finals, the story once again is San Antonio dominating the interior and keep Miami away from rebounds.
The Heat has been outrebounded by the Spurs by an average margin of 44.3-39.3 through the first three games of the 2013 NBA Finals. Much of the difference came from Game 3’s mauling where San Antonio outrebounded Miami 52-36 overall and 19-9 on the offensive end.
The Heat is led by LeBron James on the boards in the NBA Finals with 37 and Chris Bosh is second on the team with 25 rebounds in the Finals. But outside of those two players, no other player has more than 9 rebounds over the first three games against San Antonio.
For comparison purposes, the Spurs have two players averaging better than 10 rebounds per game (Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard). Leonard has also been tasked with shutting down LeBron on the defensive end, making his effort even more impressive.
If the Heat can’t even out the rebounding battle starting in Game 4, Miami may not be able to get the series back to South Florida.