The Search For a Third Option
Throughout the past two years, the role players for the Miami Heat might be the most scrutinized unit in basketball. Without the services of Chris Bosh, that search for players to play a supporting role on offense became even more magnified.
In Tuesday’s 78-75 Game 2 loss, Miami got 52 points combined from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, but just 23 from the other eight players that saw action. All told, guys in the lineup not named Wade or James shot 9-34 (26%) from the field.
No one believes that the Heat can continue to produce numbers like that and win the series.
“It’s very important,” said Mario Chalmers on replacing Bosh. “That’s 18 points per game in the playoffs. One of us has to step up. It’s just about people getting into their rhythm and finding their shots early.”
The lack of those third and fourth options hurt the Heat most late. They got only two field goals in the second half coming from outside of the team’s two leading scorers. With the lack of options, Miami’s offense went through long periods of stagnation including a 3-17 shooting slump in the third quarter and getting shutout in the final 2:41 of the game.
Despite how bad things looked, head coach Erik Spoelstra believes his team will find the right guys to fill the offensive void.
“We will,” said Spoelstra on players stepping up. “We’re going to have to do it collectively. We’re not going to have someone to spell Chris Bosh, but we have enough and we had opportunities today. We need to make some open ones or move the ball and hunt down for better ones when you’re playing against a tough defense.”
Can Miami Buy a Long Range Game?
One statistic that goes hand in hand with tonight’s supporting cast struggles is three point shooting. Pat Riley and Co. have worked hard each of the last two offseasons to surround the “Big Three” with perimeter shooters, but results on the court have been mixed.
Through two games against the Pacers, pundits have another example of Heat failure beyond the arc. For the series, the Miami is just 1-22 from long range after a 1-16 showing in game two.
However, Spoelstra has preached that he is ok with missed shots from deep as long as they are good attempts. Most everyone seemed to be buying into the coach speak as they sounded almost immune to their shooting woes postgame.
“Keep shooting,” said Wade’s about breaking out of the funk. “That is all you can do. We’re getting good looks. Just keep shooting.”
Indiana head coach Frank Vogel says his team was prepared to guard the three-point line after their series with Orlando, a team that predicates their offense on outside shots. How Miami adjusts going forth will likely be another contributing factor to their overall success in the series.
Shane Battier believes that staying within the game plan and doing what has got them this far is the best solution for the Heat.
“We’re getting looks,” said Battier. “So we’re not going to overreact. If those shots present themselves again next game we’re going to take them. Take them with confidence. It’s been a great weapon for us all year.”
Each coach opened his postgame press conference with a version of the phrase “Welcome to playoff basketball”. Indeed, Game 2 was not pretty in part because the physicality associated with the postseason was in full form.
Now, things shift to Indianapolis for Game 3 Thursday and Game 4 Sunday. The heightened intensity will undoubtedly follow both teams to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Vogel will be preaching to his team not to get too high on the win that tilted home court in their favor.
“We just have to understand that the way we felt after game one is the way they’re feeling right now,” said Vogel. “They’re going to come and bring everything they have in game three. We can’t think about winning two at home, or trying to get something back here.”
Just like Vogel, Miami knows what they can do on the road. Despite only an 18-15 record away from the American Airlines Arena in the regular season, Battier remarked that this Heat team has, “a game that travels”.
It is supreme belief like that that will carry Miami while competing amongst a fiery Indiana crowd hungry for even greater postseason success.
“Every night we take the court we expect to win the ball game, no matter where we are,” said Wade. “We are a very confident team and we can get home court back.”