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Danny

Defensive Rebounding Matters

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(Photo Credit: Joe Murphy)

Much has been written and will be written about the HEAT’s rebounding. Rebounding margin has reflected poorly on the HEAT this season, but we know that that stat doesn’t provide the context needed to properly assess the situation. That’s where rebounding percentages come in handy.

Rebounding percentages (sometimes referred to as rebounding rates) tell us how a team fares on the boards, independent of number of opportunities. Here’s a quick example: If there are 50 defensive rebounds available over the course of the game and the HEAT grab 38 of them while the opponent grabs the other 12, the HEAT will have a defensive rebounding percentage of 76 percent and the opponent will have an offensive rebounding percentage of 24 percent. It’s not too complicated, right?

The HEAT don’t place a huge importance on offensive rebounding. They prefer getting back on defense, limiting an opponent’s transition offense. If there’s an opportunity, they take it. But you’ll rarely see two players crash the offensive glass at the same time. So we’ll shift our focus to the defensive end.

As of the Utah game the HEAT rank 25th in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage. That alone may look like a red flag, but is it? To find out, we need to see who the HEAT have played and how many defensive rebounds they should have up to this point.

This is actually simple to do. To calculate this, we just pull up the HEAT’s schedule, find the opponents and look up their offensive rebounding rates for the season. Next, we’ll calculate the available defensive rebounds in the games actually played and compare how the HEAT did and how the raw numbers suggest they should have done.

Here are the results:

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The two highlighted figures are the numbers to look at. The HEAT have come up 16 rebounds shy of where they’re projected to based on opponent. With the HEAT having played 36 games, it comes out to .44 defensive rebounds a game. That doesn’t appear to be anything worth stressing over.

Just in case the games against the HEAT inflated the opponents’ offensive rebounding numbers, I ran the same process while calculating opponents’ offensive rebounding percentages without HEAT games included. Using that method, I still came to the 1119 figure.

So, what does this all mean? Well, the HEAT are technically underperforming their expectations by a shade. Their current defensive rebounding percentage is 72 percent while their schedule projects them to be at 73 percent, which happens to be league average this year.

Last season, the HEAT rebounded 73.9 percent of available defensive rebounds, which would be good for 11th in the NBA this season. The difference between this season and last season is 30 defensive rebounds, or .83 defensive rebounds a game. That’s all. Less than one extra defensive rebound a game. That’s a bounce off of a foot, a weird carom off the rim or a random scoop in a scrum.

It is OK to be concerned about the HEAT’s rebounding. It is down from last season. But the data shows they’re right about where they should be so far this season, and within shouting distance of last season.

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We are exactly where we need to be - getting out-rebounded by ~15-20 boards a game when playing teams that rebound well. This is rebound apologetics at it's finest - denial.

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We are exactly where we need to be - getting out-rebounded by ~15-20 boards a game when playing teams that rebound well. This is rebound apologetics at it's finest - denial.

I'm not sure where I'm in "denial." Sure, the HEAT's defensive rebounding could be better. It just hasn't been as bad as people make it out to be. A couple of bad games the last couple of weeks just make it seem like a huge issue. Also, being "outrebounded" doesn't matter to the HEAT and shouldn't matter to you. Rebounding margin is fairly useless.

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Rebounding margin is fairly useless.

Really? Why is that the last 14 NBA champions have been top 10 in rebounding margin at least? I'm not saying rebounding the ball was the sole reason those teams won but pretending like rebounding isn't a big factor in winning championships is blatantly false. I don't think Riley was just messing around when he said "No Rebounds, no Rings."

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We were in the top 10 in rebounds last year?

We were #6 in rebounding differential last year. So yes we were top 10.

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I still think MIAMI is capable of curing it's rebounding woes. There's too much pride in that locker room for those champs to go out like chumps. I'm going to go out on a limb and say MIAMI will start to shift gears after the all-star break, and all of this terrible road play, lack of rebounding, and whatever else the pundits say about MIAMI in it's current state, will be an after thought...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Well aren't those two different categories?

Yeah but rebounds per game is a useless stat that doesn't take into account pace or how well you play defensively or how bad you play offensively, which both can increase your raw rebounds per game. Rebound rate and rebounding differential give you a better idea of how well you're doing on the boards compared to other teams and your opposition.

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I just don't fret too much about these issues. I know the team will look and play vastly different by the time the playoffs are approaching.

Health is the most important thing we need to monitor.

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I just don't fret too much about these issues. I know the team will look and play vastly different by the time the playoffs are approaching.

Health is the most important thing we need to monitor.

I don't think you were around in the 06 07 season. Sometimes you can't "flip the switch" come playoff time. Gotta develop good habits in the reg season.

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I don't think you were around in the 06 07 season. Sometimes you can't "flip the switch" come playoff time. Gotta develop good habits in the reg season.

Yeah, health was a BIG concern for the 07 team.

aaaaaaaaaaaaand, we have "flipped" the switch so to speak each of the past two years....so who is it that hasn't been paying attention?

But believe what you want, I was not "around" back then. lol

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Yeah but rebounds per game is a useless stat that doesn't take into account pace or how well you play defensively or how bad you play offensively, which both can increase your raw rebounds per game. Rebound rate and rebounding differential give you a better idea of how well you're doing on the boards compared to other teams and your opposition.

Just rebound rate. Don't use the differential. For the HEAT, who totally disregard the offensive boards, just use defensive rebounding rate. Like I said in the piece, the HEAT are behind where they want to be, but it's not be a whole lot. The HEAT have the same defensive rebounding percentage as the Clippers. A few more games like tonight and they'll be right back at league average. The problem is, for the most part, all the rough games happened in a short stretch that occurred recently. That skews our perception of things. The HEAT had a string of bad rebounding games, just like there will be a string of bad shooting nights, lacking defensive effort or faulty ball-handling. These things happen to every team in the league.

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I don't think you were around in the 06 07 season. Sometimes you can't "flip the switch" come playoff time. Gotta develop good habits in the reg season.

The HEAT didn't have the best player in the NBA then. And Dwyane Wade got injured. There were a lot of things that are different between 2007 and 2013.

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Danny my man, always coming in and dropping knowledge. That's what I like about ya. If only everyone was as level headed as you. lol

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Danny my man, always coming in and dropping knowledge. That's what I like about ya. If only everyone was as level headed as you. lol

If things were bad, I'd say so. When I say I'm 0.0% concerned about this HEAT season, I'm not exaggerating for anyone else's benefit.

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Frustration with losses is understandable. Fans care, so they have every right to be upset when the team loses. However, I try to maintain some big picture perspective here.

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It's not the fact that they're upset when the team loses. It's the fact that even when things are going good they have to complain about something.

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