The Heat are really, really, really good when James Jones is on the floor
We asked, incessantly, and got our wish for more James Jones minutes. And while it’s doubtful coach Erik Spoelstra reads the suggestions offered to him on social media, it’s obvious that, in the right situation, the Heat are a better team, especially on offense, when Jones is on the floor.
Jones, who possessed a plus-19.5 net rating in the regular season, is currently posting an absurd net rating of plus-41.8 in 42 playoff minutes through the first three games of the playoffs. The Heat are generating 139.5 points per 100 possessions when James in on the floor, and giving up 97.7 points per 100 possessions on defense.
No other player is garnering more than 125.1 points per 100 possessions, owned by Chris Andersen, and it shows. The Heat are far more efficient on the offensive end when Jones is on the floor, stretching the floor and spacing Charlotte’s top ten defense, and obtaining quality shots for their sharpshooter.
Although Jones was 1-for-6 overall in Miami’s Game 3 win, three of those looks were categorized as uncontested, and he finished the night a plus-18. Only LeBron James, who went off for 30 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists, had a better plus/minus rating.
You can only wonder how much longer the Heat can continue getting away with playing him, though. He’s a good fit against Charlotte because the Bobcats don’t have the shooting guard or small forward that’s capable of dropping 25-plus on any given night, rendering Jones a liability on the defensive end.
If Brooklyn makes their way out of the first round, one has to wonder how much time Jones would see playing against the likes of Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson.
For now, we’ll revel in Jones shooting lights-out, and allowing us to momentarily forget about Mike Miller.
The starting lineup has been less than impressive
While lineups featuring Jones have been extremely productive, the starting lineup has been an absolute bust. Featuring Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, the starting lineup has a net rating of minus-28.4, and is garnering only 77.5 points per 100 possessions.
They’re no better on defense, giving up 105.9 points per possessions, and it’s been resulting in a slew of slow starts against a Charlotte offense that ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency in the regular season.
In 33 minutes together, their true shooting percentage is a paltry 40.5 percent, and they’re shooting 36 percent from the field. The second-most used lineup, meanwhile, featuring Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Wade, Bosh and Andersen, is shooting 50 percent and has a net rating of plus-26.4.
The three players with the lowest plus/minus rating on the team are a part of the starting lineup, including Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem. Wade and Bosh, however, thrive in the other, more productive lineups, while Haslem, who is seldom-used after his first and third quarter stints, has the lowest plus/minus rating of any rotation player.
The starting lineup’s problems are palpable. There’s little spacing, because of Al Jefferson’s lack of respect for Haslem’s capability of being a consistent shooter, and the lane doesn’t open up nearly as much as it does when guys like Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, or James Jones are on the floor.
Udonis is a good fit for the right series. If you need a physical matchup that can help beat up on guys like Carlos Boozer or David West, Haslem is your guy. Putting a shooter in there, however, forces Charlotte to make significant adjustments in their defensive gameplan.
In previous games, they’ve been hiding Jefferson’s lack of mobility by placing him on Haslem, and McRoberts on Bosh. Put a shooter in there, however, and Jefferson would have no choice but to either be matched up with either Rashard Lewis or Jones or even Shane Battier, or go one-on-one with Bosh.
Either way, this is all rendered moot by Jefferson likely not being available for Game 4, and the fact that Miami’s up 3-0 and should have the series wrapped up by the end of the night.
Chris Bosh is shooting lights out from beyond the arc
Hopefully the law of averages doesn’t hit Chris Bosh in future series’.
These aren’t forced shots from Bosh, either, as they’re all coming in the rhythm of the offense. The only worrisome part of the lucid shooting display is how comfortable Bosh can get shooting from far out. That shot’s not always going to be there, and the Heat will need the prince of the mid-range and post-player at some point over the next month.
Then again, the playoffs have belonged to Bosh, especially in big-time moments. In the 2011-12 postseason run, Bosh shot 54 percent on 13 attempts, including a big 3-for-3 performance in Miami’s Game 7 win over Boston in the Conference Finals.
Last year, he shot 41 percent on 37 attempts, which was on par with Ray Allen and Mike Miller’s shooting prowess in the same postseason run. Fully transitioning in attempting to move his mid-range game further out beyond the three-point stripe, Bosh shot a respectable 34 percent on a career-high 218 attempts.
He had taken no more than 74 three-pointers in a season prior to this year.