It seems each game and Miami Heat brings a new side from LeBron James opposing teams have to adjust to. In game 1 it was his driving to the basket when the opportunity came up. In game 3 it was his excellent work on the post against Paul George. In game 4, be sure it’s not going to be the same “old” thing.
All the talk after the impressive 114-96 win in game 3 was how good James was posting up, while comparing it to his struggles against the Dallas Mavericks in that aspect during the 2011 NBA Finals and his ability to play like a natural power forward if necessary. There isn’t just one thing James should stick to, because the biggest problem guarding and facing LeBron is he does so many things too well.
I’m much better than I was two or three years ago. I’ve still got a lot of things to improve, but I could work down there all game now. That’s something I probably couldn’t have done two years ago.
The Hear aren’t worried about the Pacers figuring out how to stop James in the post, because the Heat aren’t planning to use the exact same game plan for every game. Erik Spoelstra has taken a lot of criticism over the years, but that’s what you get for coaching on a team built on star power. No one is going to respect you & your staff’s coaching ability.
But the Heat have shown over the last couple of seasons and throughout their run as the Big Three, that they’re all about adjustments, peppered with that individual ability no other team has in this amount. James is either going to be guarded by someone else (David West maybe?) or double teamed and trapped more quickly. The Heat already have a different game plan to execute in case the Pacers don’t allow them to keep on going to the post.
And while all the credit went to the post-up play, the Heat actually used the Pick & Roll on more than 34% of their possessions, finishing with 0.94 points per possession. Yes, James scored 12 points in the post, but Miami had Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade combine to score 32 points on 60% from the field.
And those pick & roll problems the Pacers were facing also created the spot up shooting issue. Udonis Haslem simply found himself open again and again in the same spot as Roy Hibbert forgot to use his feet and cover the shooter. Haslem finished with 17 points on 8-of-9 from the field, while Chris Bosh, who was a little more varied in his scoring as the game went on, scored 15 points on only 24 minutes.
James is going to be the focus of everything. He’s the point guard, small forward, power forward and everything in between for this team. But the Miami Heat are much more than a one-trick pony that they try to carry with them from game to game. What’s been done is in the past, and game 4 presents new challenges against a very difficult team. The Heat hit shots at a rate that’s unlikely to return again. It’s more adjustments and fresh ideas that are needed, while a big game for James, who scored “only” 22 points in game 3, wouldn’t hurt as well.