Miami Heat: Game 1 Stats of Significance

54 points in the paint

As poor as the Miami Heat played on the defensive end, their offense beat up on the Indiana Pacers’ interior as it rarely has before, dropping 54 of their 96 points in the paint.

56% of their total points came from the painted area, with both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scoring at least 59% of their points in the paint. Chris Andersen also thrived in the paint with 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting and a pair of free throws.

Miami shot an impressive 51% against Indiana, the best field goal percentage they’ve given up in these playoffs, and was getting plenty from their two slashers. Unfortunately, their shooters, for a fourth straight game, shot well below 35%, despite, according NBA.com/stats, getting a fair number of open looks.

The Heat shot 44% on uncontested shots, just days after nearly dropping Game 5 against Brooklyn thanks to 34% shooting on uncontested looks. Lowlights from Game 1 included 1-for-7 shooting from Chris Bosh, who struggled heavily finding his stroke from beyond the arc, and Mario Chalmers going 1-for-5, including a pair of wide-open threes from the same corner.

The Heat were 0-for-6 overall on corner threes. LeBron James, 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, shot a pedestrian 4-of-8 on uncontested shots.

Meanwhile, the Pacers, who only took 21 uncontested shots to Miami’s 36, shot 57%, with Lance Stephenson, David West and Paul George combining to shoot 9-for-14.

Plain and simple, the Heat are going to need their shooters to step up if they want a shot at winning another title. Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, James Jones, and Chris Bosh all had their moments in the past three playoff runs with their shooting.

The same obviously applies to this season. LeBron James already had to score 49 points for a below average shooting effort in Game 4 against Brooklyn. They can’t rely on him to be better than great every night. At some point, more of his passes need to turn into assists.

For a moment there, the Heat looked poised to begin shooting the ball at an elite level after such an uncharacteristic year from beyond the arc. Expectations certainly rose as the Heat crushed Charlotte with 43% shooting from three, with Bosh, Chalmers, Cole and Jones all shooting 44% or better.

The shooting kept up in Games 1 and 2 against Brooklyn, but has petered off with four consecutive games of sub-34% shooting. Miami shot less than 36% overall against Brooklyn, but, as stated prior, it nearly cost them Games 4 and 5.

Miami opened up the Conference Finals with 26% shooting in Game 1. Although Indiana has held the Heat’s three-point shooting at bay over the course of the season, Miami has also failed to capitalize on open looks in just about every meeting.

Needless to say, it’ll be tough to see the Heat’s uncontested shooting percentage continue to teeter around 40%.

26 bench points

More strong numbers from Miami, but from too few of names. Miami may have gotten 26 points from its bench, but all of those points were scored by two players, with Andersen scoring 14 and Ray Allen scoring 12.

Ray was the only Heat player with more than one three-point conversion, although he was only 2-for-6.

Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem were the only other bench players to play more than ten minutes, but both responded with no points to contribute to the effort. James Jones missed his only shot attempt and went scoreless in four minutes.

After hitting at least one three-pointer in his first seven playoff games this year, Cole has gone scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting in the past three games. He also has only two assists and is losing trust from the coaching staff, playing less than 15 minutes in the past three games with the team electing to go without a point guard entirely for stretches.

By comparison, Norris Cole scored a point in all but two games of last year’s playoffs, and those came in the NBA Finals. He was imperative in Miami’s semifinals victory over Chicago, shooting 9-for-11 from three, and played well in the Game 7 victory over Indiana, contributing eight points and four assists.

Without Mike Miller, and with Michael Beasley perpetually in the doghouse (as he should be), it’s going to be up to guys like Cole to step into a role that asks of him to occasionally make threes and make wise decisions.

Shane Battier, who will likely come off the bench next game in favor of starting Udonis Haslem, will also be asked to shake the malaise of the entire season. After failing to shoot 35% from three this season, the second worst 3-point percentage of his career, Battier has had his playoff moments already, but not nearly on a consistent basis.

He only has one made three-pointer, on only three attempts, in the past four contests, and is becoming increasingly more hesitant when it comes to shooting. Too many times has he already dribbled or passed out of a feasible shot, which only leads to a hitch in the team’s offense on that possession.

Even if the Heat aren’t shooting well, you have to believe something has to got to give in the near future. The team that was mediocre all year shooting from three, after finishing second in 3-point percentage last year, will need guys like Battier and Cole to begin making their shots if they want to get through Indiana, and then face off with the well-balanced, well-oiled machine of San Antonio.

Miami is still reluctant to unleash James Jones for too long to fully scrap any Battier minutes.

Cole, too, has yet to lose complete trust. Although he’s losing minutes, the Heat have not trotted out Toney Douglas in his place. There still hope that he’ll catch fire as he has done in the playoffs many times before.

 

The Benevolent King: Heat Need all 49 of LeBron’s to Take Control of Series

Paul Pierce asked for this. All of this.

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Heat Pull Away Late, Beat Brooklyn Nets to Take 2-0 Series Lead

If you thought Game 2 would be as easy as Game 1 was, you haven’t watched much Miami-based basketball.

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Game 1 Playoff Recap: Miami Heat Stats of Significance

52-28

That was the Heat’s points in the paint edge in their all-too-easy 21-point victory over a Brooklyn Nets team that had beaten them on all four occasions in the regular season.

Miami made a living in the paint, with nearly half of their 107 total points coming from that area. With the Nets failing to find any clear answer to guarding LeBron James, the eventual three-time Finals MVP feasted in the post, abusing the lanky Shaun Livingston, the smaller Joe Johnson, and the older Paul Pierce.

The Heat had 22 assists on their 42 makes, and shot an impressive 57% overall from the field. With the Nets attempting to match the Heat with a small lineup of their own, all the Heat had to do was feast on their individual matchups, and have constant player and ball movement until an open shot was found.

Although they were only rewarded with 16 free throws, including only a combined two between LeBron and Dwyane Wade, it had more to do with the Nets’ matador defense, and their lack of a physical interior defender.

Yeah, Kevin Garnett’s there, but he’s 37-years-old and barely playing over 20 minutes anymore. With the only other interior presences featuring the likes of Mason Plumlee, Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic (seriously), Miami had open season going over or around the Nets’ painfully small front line.

Ray Allen: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists

The Heat couldn’t afford a repeat of Ray Allen’s sub-30% shooting against Charlotte in the previous round. So, to say the least, what the Heat got out of Ray Allen in Game 1 is more than they could have ever asked for.

In 26 minutes, Ray, going against his former teammates in Pierce and Garnett, dropped 19 points, outscoring the former Celtics duo by 11, and hit on four of his seven three-point attempts. It’s the first time since April 6th that Ray hit four threes in a game, and only the seventh time all year he’s converted four three-pointers in a game.

Three of those makes came in the second half, where the Heat outscored Brooklyn 61-43.

It’s strange to say, but Ray looked as confident in his shot as I’ve seen this season. He took shots without hesitation and at any point he had a moment of breathing room. The prospect of going up against Pierce and Garnett in a playoff series for the first time may have spurred something.

Allen was actually the second-highest scorer in the game, trailing only LeBron and his 22 points. The 19 points he finished with was the most he’s scored since dropping 25 in a March 16th win over Houston.

The Nets shot 42% from three…

and still received one of the worst losses since the All-Star break. Excluding a season-finale blowout loss to Cleveland, where most of the starters sat, the Nets previous worst loss came in a 110-81 defeat to the New York Knicks back on April 2nd.

Heat fans knew they’d be due for some frustrating shot-making by these Nets, and, sure enough, they got it.

Deron Williams hit not one, but two buzzer-beating threes, including one that was shot over Chris Andersen and banked in from about 30 feet, while Joe Johnson hit three of his own. Paul Pierce hit two, although both came in the first quarter.

Brooklyn shot 46% on 44 contested shots, with Johnson going 5-for-8, Williams going 3-for-4, Teletovic going 2-for-3, and Marcus Thornton going 3-for-6. Paul Pierce was the only perimeter player who struggled on contested shots, shooting 1-for-4.

As a team, the Nets shot 30% against the Raptors from three, and were a slightly above-average three-point shooting team in the regular season.

If the Heat continue to play defense the way they were last night, limiting Brooklyn to a paltry 11 assists on 33 makes, they’ll soon see it pay off, with the Nets’ contested field goal percentage sure to drop.

First Round Recap: Miami’s Clean Sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats

For once, I was right on one of my predictions.

But selecting the Miami Heat in four games over the Charlotte Bobcats should have been what the consensus was predicting going into the series. Even had Al Jefferson remained healthy, the Bobcats simply didn’t have the offensive firepower outside of him, and spurts from Kemba Walker, to combat the Heat’s small lineup of shooters surrounding LeBron.

In an odd realization, the Heat were actually outscored by Charlotte when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were playing together. As a three-man lineup, their net rating of minus-9.5 and defensive rating of 107.7 points per 100 possessions actually hindered the team’s effort against Charlotte.

A lot of that, however, has to do with the slow starts Miami got out to in three of their four games. The starting lineup’s net rating of minus-19.4 was the worst lineup that played at least ten minutes Miami used. They only mustered 87.3 points per 100 possessions with the starting lineup, which was arguably limited by Udonis Haslem.

It was only when the bench hit the floor when the Heat were able to get things going. When Udonis, who finished the series with a team low minus-9 net rating, was on the floor, the Heat’s offense stalled, and failed to get off the type of shot they could have passed into had more shooters been on the floor.

Miami’s best lineup of the series featured Norris Cole, Ray Allen, LeBron James, Rashard Lewis and Chris Andersen.  Those five had a net rating of plus-27.9, scoring 127.7 points per 100 possessions and giving up 99.8 points per 100 possessions.

But that was only one of four Heat lineups, among those that played at least 15 minutes together, that had a net rating of at least plus-20.4.

Haslem also had a team-low 91.6 offensive rating. By comparison, no other player on the Heat had lower than an offensive rating of 102.9, surprisingly owned by Dwyane Wade, who trailed off after a stellar Game 1.

Meanwhile, the players with the top offensive rating all came off the bench. James Jones led the way boasting an ORTG of 130.5 points per 100 possessions, while Chris Andersen finished close behind at 125 points per 100 possessions. Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen and Norris Cole rounded out the top five.

Decently impressive numbers against a Charlotte team that ranked sixth in defensive efficiency in the regular season. With the team focusing all of its attention on LeBron James, on account of there being no individual who had a chance at stopping him, the shooters thrived, but not nearly as much as LeBron did.

What a welcoming change it was to see the shooters actually make their shots. After finishing the season in the middle of the pack in three-point percentage, the Heat shot as well as they did in the 2012-13 season when they were second in the league in that category.

Although Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis struggled, and combined to hit only three of their 16 three-point attempts, it was refreshing to see Norris Cole regain some confidence lost, James Jones to get some minutes and respond with quality play, and Chris Bosh to regain the stroke he had earlier in the year.

It’s only Charlotte, but guys like Cole and Bosh hitting shots is going to be huge in the long run. Ray Allen will eventually come around, because that’s just what he does, but someone’s going to have to replace Mike Miller when it comes to the team’s shooting, and Cole, who dominated in the first two rounds of last year’s playoffs, will be a necessity beyond the perimeter.

The same goes for Bosh, as he continues to push his game further and further away from the rim.

While the team shot 43% overall from three, led by Chris Bosh’s 69%, Mario Chalmers’ 45%, Norris Cole’s 50% and James Jones’s 44%, it was LeBron James that proved to be as overwhelming as we envisioned he’d be.

Without astute defender Jeff Taylor available, the Bobcats were forced to go with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is a good defender in his own right, but lacks the size and strength to combat LeBron. As expected, LeBron abused MKG, as well as Gerald Henderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts and whoever else was unfortunate enough to get the call from Steve Clifford, in the post, and on pick-and-rolls.

Near the end of Miami’s Game 4 win, with LeBron scoring with ease over Henderson in the post, two points were as close to a guarantee every time James went into the post. It truly is remarkable when you recall just how poor LeBron’s post game was as recently as the 2011 Finals, and compare it to what it has become today.

LeBron finished the series with averages of 30 points per game on 56% overall shooting and 35% three-point shooting, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2.3 steals per in 39.3 minutes per game. He didn’t make it look difficult, either. LeBron feasted on Charlotte’s lack of a sizable perimeter defender, as well as their reduced frontline.

With Jefferson already being limited, getting to the rim and scoring against the likes of Josh McRoberts and Bismack Biyombo was as easy as you could imagine for a player of LeBron’s caliber.

But that’s what we’ve come to expect from LeBron, which is why I didn’t expect Miami to drop a single game of the series. As many strides as Charlotte took this season, and as much of an All-Star Jefferson appeared to be, Charlotte didn’t have the all-around talent or depth to compete.

TOP THREE HIGHLIGHTS

3. The JAAAAAAMES JOOOONES Show

2. LeBron gets kneed in the thigh, immediately knees Charlotte’s playoff chances in the groin


1. LeBron stares into Michael Jordan’s cold, envious soul

2014 NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat Stats of Significance Through Game 3

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.

 

LeBron James Elbows Charlotte’s Title Chances in Throat, Leads Heat to Game 2 Win

Before we get into the seemingly endless, meandering event that is a Miami Heat playoff victory, let’s get one thing out of the way first.

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