Why The Miami Heat Should Worry as They Go Deeper in the Playoffs
By: Steve Rawnsley
After riding the historic game four performances by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the game four win, the Heat now have home court advantage, and have the momentum heading into what is now a best of three series against the Pacers. On the surface, everything is all good heading into game five. However, there are some major concerns for the Heat heading into the rest of the series, and beyond.
The biggest concern is the same concern that has been there since they formed their trio. That problem is the supporting cast. As great as Wade and LeBron are, they cannot win this series by themselves. The Heat’s supporting cast must play better than they have been playing.
Game one was tied going into the fourth quarter. Joel Anthony made a layup a minute into the fourth, and then made one free throw with about a minute left after a loose ball foul. Outside of those two events, nobody on the Heat scored other than LeBron and Wade in the fourth quarter.
In game four, it was the same story, only more extreme. This time Haslem made two free throws with 2:50 left in the second quarter. Only Wade and LeBron scored for the next thirteen minutes before Haslem again hit two free throws with 1:30 left in the third quarter. Then nobody on the Heat scored other than LeBron and Wade, until Haslem made a jumper with 5:56 to go in the fourth. For about twenty one minutes, the Heat’s supporting cast had a total of two points. Nobody on the Heat scored other than Haslem, LeBron, and Wade for the final thirty minutes. For the most part, in the two wins, LeBron and Wade have had to win it by themselves.
In game two, outside of LeBron and Wade, the rest of the team had twenty-three points on nine of thirty-four shooting. Mario Chalmers had a great game three, but that was in a blow out, so you can take that with a grain of salt. So far Shane Battier is shooting 10.5% this series. He shot under 40% for the year also, and he is starting in place of Bosh, as they move LeBron to the four. Mike Miller is not much better at 33%, and only averaging 2.5 points per game. These are the guys that the Heat decided to use the mid-level exception on to surround their big trio. They simply have to play better.
LeBron’s game four performances was simply historic. According to the Ellias Sports Bureau nobody has gone for at least 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists in a playoff game since Elgin Baylor in 1961.
Not to be outdone by LeBron, Wade made eleven straight field goals starting late in the second quarter and ending early in the fourth. As great as these guys are, they cannot play like they did in game four. It is just not sustainable. LeBron left Cleveland because he wanted help, but this looks like Cleveland 2.0 right now.
The other thing to be concerned about is the Pacers just gave game four away. The Pacers missed a lot of open shots in the first quarter. They went 3-11 from downtown and they were all open shots. They Pacers were sixth in the league in three point shooting during the season. The Heat dodged a huge bullet.
The Pacers tried outshoot the Heat to the brink of elimination, instead of going to their strength, post play. Roy Hibbert has been the best player for the Pacers in the series. The fact that the Heat have used a different starting center in each game tells you how much they are hurting in the post, and this is where the Pacers have a huge advantage over Miami. However, in game four Hibbert only got nine field goal attempts in thirty-two minutes. Meanwhile, Leandro Barbosa got ten field goal attempts in nineteen minutes. The Heat did not really double Hibbert all that much either.
David West was also silent, due to the fact that the Pacers fell in love with the outside shot. They did not feed him enough, especially with Battier guarding him. He only got eight field goal attempts in the game. Granger had more three point attempts then West had field goal attempts. This is a very easy fix.
The Pacers played into the Heat’s hands, and it still took unsustainable performances by LeBron and Wade to tie up the series.