Miami Heat: Game 2 Stats of Significance

22-20

Bearing a striking resemblance to the third quarter from Game 4 of the 2012 semifinals, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to stifle any hope of Indiana taking full control of the series.

Had the dynamic duo not come through then, the Heat would have faced a 3-1 deficit. This time around, it would have been a 2-0 deficit, with 94% of teams previously going on to win series’ when they win the first two games.

Wade and James wouldn’t let that happen. In a critical fourth quarter, which featured Miami outscoring Indiana 25-20, Wade scored ten points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, while LeBron dropped 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Norris Cole’s three, off a LeBron assist, with 10:45 left were the only Heat points in the quarter not scored by either Dwyane or LeBron.

Those two alone combined to outscore Indiana in the final frame. And with 7:18 left and the Pacers holding a four-point lead, it became the LeBron James show.

James, who had struggled to score ten points going into the final frame, would score nine consecutive Heat points, and then assist on a Wade dunk to give his team an 80-75 lead with 3:17 left.

For all the early criticism he was bludgeoned with for most of the contest, LeBron still ended with a well-rounded 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals on 50% shooting. He struggled from beyond the arc, but hit his only three of the night to cut Indiana’s four-point lead to one.

For as much attention as Lance Stephenson received for his five minute stretch of uncharacteristic brilliance, Wade was better, finishing with 23 points on 63% shooting, and also saving his best for last.

Stephenson, who had 23 points going into the fourth, scored two points in the final 12 minutes. You can thank Norris Cole, as well as the law of averages, for that.

58% 

Things certainly look your way when the uncontested shots you’re taking are actually falling.

While this wasn’t the case in Game 5 against Brooklyn or Game 1 against Indiana, it was in Game 2, with the Heat converting 58% of their 31 uncontested attempts.

Norris Cole, who finished with 11 points and his both of his three-point attempts, was a perfect 3-for-3 on uncontested shots. Mario Chalmers also hit both of open threes, while Dwyane Wade supported the squad with 4-for-6 shooting on uncontested shots.

Miami’s 40% shooting from three marked the first time they’ve shot better than 34% from three since Game 2 against Brooklyn. Bosh and James combined to shoot 2-for-9, but it was the supporting cast who led the way, with Chalmers and Cole combining to shoot 4-for-4.

Even Shane Battier entered the fray, knocking down one of his two threes.

The Pacers, meanwhile, who shot 60% on uncontested shots in Game 1, were only 41% this time around. David West and Paul George were a combined 4-for-12, while Luis Scola went 0-for-3.

Lance Stephenson and George Hill were the only players to thrive on their open makes for Indiana, going 8-for-14.

Indiana was no better on contested looks, shooting 38%, while Miami shot 44%. However, they still managed to shoot near 50% on 19 three-point attempts, converting on better than 40% of their threes for a second consecutive game.

The Pacers were a middle-of-the-pack shooting team in the regular season. One has to wonder how much they continue to rely on George Hill going 3-for-5, Stephenson going 2-for-4, and Rasual Butler going 2-for-3.

+25

The Heat were a travesty on the defensive boards last night. Although they somehow won the rebounding battle, they were annihilated going after defensive rebounds, and gave up 16 offensive rebounds, including eight alone to Roy Hibbert.

Roy had more offensive rebounds than the entire Heat team. He also had 12 points to go along with his 13 rebounds, furthering the now well-known anomaly of Roy Hibbert going completely insane when he plays the Miami Heat.

Naturally, it was his first double-double of the playoffs, and first since March 21st. The eight offensive rebounds was also a season-high.

But his numbers hardly measured up to that of Chris Andersen’s, who once again proved he deserved more recognition for Sixth Man of the Year. In 29 minutes, Birdman brought down a team-high 12 rebounds, the third-most he had this year.

Although he only scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting, he was a game-high plus-25 and was instrumental, alongside fellow bench member Norris Cole, in Miami’s fourth quarter run.

His 28% rebounding percentage was a game-high, as was his net-rating of 49.3 and defensive rating of 77.4.

In a season where apathy and malaise was a repetitive theme, Birdman has been the lone consistent source of energy, even at the age of 36, the second-oldest on the team behind Ray Allen.

It’s for that exact reason why he shouldn’t start, either. Miami needs that energy off the bench, and also doesn’t need him picking up cheap, early fouls against Roy Hibbert, either.

 

 

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

LeBron James, Miami Heat Playing Without Championship Identity

It’s nights like last night’s loss to New Orleans (the losses to Denver, Brooklyn, or Boston can be used in this scenario, too) that make you wonder just how content LeBron James and the Miami Heat are with losing these types of games.

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Miami Heat: Thoughts on the Buyout Market

We Heat fans get bored too easily. In the midst of LeBron James having his nose broken and the Heat having won the past five and eight of their past nine, we’re falling into the trap, once again, of being obsessed with who the Heat will sign to fill out the final roster spot.

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Video: Watch Every Miami Heat Dunk from Last Year

The Miami Heat are in a state of transition at the moment, leaving the team searching for an identity in the midst of continuity issues involving various injuries to key role players.

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Miami Heat: Greg Oden Makes his NBA Return

Video

Even when the Heat lose, they still win.

Let the Washington Wizards and the NBA critics own two days, because the Heat were the team who came up looking victorious in the long run.

With the Heat facing a 30-point deficit halfway through the second quarter, they inserted Greg Oden into the lineup, making it his first regular season action since December 5th, 2009.

Surely enough, his impact was immediately felt. On his first offensive possession, Oden rebounded a Dwyane Wade miss, easily going over the top of Marcin Gortat, and slammed it with authority.

It marked the first time in the ‘Big Three’ era that a Heat player was able to rebound over a center and then slam it home. It’s a dimension the Heat have yet to experience, until now.

Oden was spry in his eight minutes on the floor. He played excellent defense on Gortat, grabbed two rebounds, made a pair of free throws, missed a hook, and had another dunk off a pick-and-roll with LeBron James.

He was a plus-3, the only player off the bench to be in the positive in plus/minus last night.

It’ll be interesting to see what direction the Heat go in if Oden is able to stay healthy. Even with Chris Andersen set to return soon, Oden is still a special talent that could provide in areas that Andersen can’t.

Namely, one-on-one defense against opposing centers and just being a presence. Oden has the body type and the athleticism to go with it to always have an impact on both ends of the floor.

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Why this Year’s Miami Heat Team is the Best of the Big Three Era

Wrote this over at Dime Magazine. There’s been a great deal of criticism lately about the Miami Heat and the overall lack of effort they’ve exerted and shown this season.

But what if I told you that it’s on a far better pace than last year when they finished the season with a franchise record 66 wins? That it’s the deepest Miami Heat team yet and that its best players are averaging career-lows in minutes?

Most importantly, at 27-10, that it only has room to grow.