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The Miami Heat continues to be at its best in the clutch

Erik Spoelstra has had a credo all season:

Do enough early to make it a possession game, at which point Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will make the necessary plays.

Sometimes, the Heat hasn't been able to follow the formula, allowing games to slip in the third quarter, and falling too far behind to recover. 

Yet, of late, and even in adverse circumstances, Miami has stuck around, and then stuck the landing. It happened against Chicago, Dallas and again against Charlotte on Friday night, in a 98-95 win. 

Miami has now played 27 games in which there was "clutch" time -- characterized by the NBA as a game that has a margin of five points or fewer, inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. 

The Heat is now 18-9 in those games, compared to 11-13 in all others.

It is plus-53 in 107 minutes. 

Miami's defensive rating is an exceptional 89.4 in those situations, second-best in the league to Golden State's 79.7 -- with lower being better. Houston is third at 94.1, Memphis is fourth at 94.5 and Detroit is fifth at 95.1. 

More surprising?

A solid offensive rating of 111.2, which ranks 10th in the NBA -- Dallas is first at 123.2 -- and is much better than Miami's overall offensive rating of 101.5. 

The Heat's net rating is positive 21.8, behind just Golden State (39.0), Dallas (26.1) and Memphis (21.8). It is just ahead of Cleveland (18.6).

One concern? Miami has missed 30 of 99 free throws, for the fourth-worst percentage. Still, the Heat has kept the turnovers down, and made enough of the right plays to usually prevail. 

Who's most responsible for the success?

The two guys you'd expect.

Bosh in the clutch: 113.1 offensive rating, 86.1 defensive rating.

Wade in the clutch: 111.8 offensive rating, 87.2 defensive rating.

But toss Justise Winslow in there too. His net positive rating of 25.2 is right between Bosh and Wade.

And here's something that might surprise you -- since it surprised me.

Of all the players in the NBA who have played at least 15 games that included "clutch time," Gerald Green has the highest net rating. He's at plus-51.1. That comes in just 45 total minutes, but maybe that's why Spoelstra keeps giving him a shot.




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