Heat vs. Knicks: LeBron Should Be Concerned

April 18, 2012

LeBron James has done everything he can do to keep this Heat team near the top of the Eastern Conference. But he’s battling some obstacles that might leave the Heat short of their goal of even one title. Erik Spoelstra is still tinkering with his lineups from game to game, and hasn’t been able to settle into an offensive rhythm. What you may not understand is that at this level, with the sophistication of NBA defenses, there needs to be an offensive consistency to ensure good shots. Imagine working at a job where you have to separate mail according to zip code one day, city another, and last name on yet another. And then imagine that those criteria rotate randomly. This is what the Heat offense look like most nights, and why they have trouble getting good shots.

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What saves the Heat is their vaunted defense, which forces turnovers and run outs at a very high rate. In fact, the team relies on these turnovers and run outs to generate a significant part of their offense. According to Synergy Sports, transition is the 2nd most offensive play they execute. Problem is, in the playoffs, as have time to prepare, they will certainly turn the ball over less and provide less opportunity for the Heat to get those easy shots.

The Heat defense has been exposed this week on two specific plays. Both the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls used down screens and curls to goad the defense to over extend. The curler would simply slip a pocket pass to the down screener for an easy 15 footer. Spoelstra never adjusted and the Heat lost both games. Had the screener’s man simply stayed a little closer to his man, they would’ve thwarted many of those Kevin Garnett jumpers.

The Knicks showed they can run a screen and roll with a weakside pin down, in order to take advantage of the Heat’s over pursuit of the ball. Time after time, the Knicks freed up 3 point shooters with a simple back screen on the weakside, and a skip pass got them wide open shots. I can guarantee teams playing the Knicks in the playoffs will run both of these sets ad nauseum and if they limit their turnovers, the Heat become vulnerable.

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Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown and a former high school varsity basketball coach. Follow Coach Nick on Twitter, @BballSource.

Comments (7)

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  1. Howiy20h2345 says:

    I think part of it is because the heat won’t be able to go to low post in the paint since Bosh can’t play physical and doesnt have a strong post up move other than face up jumper.  For some reason I dont see lebron posting up deeper as much, he kinda goes back to driving in. and d-wade is too short in low post when help-D come.  I believe Bosh shud work on his inside game more rather settle jumper on the outside

    • Ignarus says:

      I expect that Lebron will post up more frequently down low as he continues to develop his hook shots, but I still don’t think he’s going to be posting up big men like this a whole lot. 

      The biggest thing for Lebron’s post game (IMHO) might not be getting closer to the bucket as much as just executing it all faster without giving the D as much time to set up or letting his man figure out his options.  

      Posting and getting off a baseline turnaround has been significantly more reliable than trying to drive and pulling up from the same spot. Not even Iggy can consistently mess with him on the new go-to move.  

      This didn’t get much mention, but I’ve been impressed that he’s added a floater to his arsenal that simply wasn’t there last year. Now he doesn’t risk barrelling into defenders who are trying to take charges as much, which was something that limited his ability to drive sometimes.

      • bballbreakdown says:

         No question LeBron’s post game has been vital to the Heat’s success and dominance. He needs to get back to doing it more, and they need to cross screen for him more to get him open down low…

  2. coach says:

    Most NBA players dont have a really good concept of defensive weak side help and neither how to box out in some cases,neither how to overplay,neither how to  defend a P&R.I think its quite a pitty that in players with so much talent those tactical things arent so well dominated.

    • bballbreakdown says:

      Unfortunately, not many college programs ingrain those concepts either.

      • coach says:

        I also reckon that european basketball is more developed in this sense.What do you think about this Nick?

  3. WillyWerner says:

    I must say that looking at Bosh’s problem, when you talk about left or right block, is that Bosh will use his “quickness” (certainly he’s lighter than Chandler) to get his shot off, knowing he’s not very strong. So left block, he’ll settle for 1-dribble fade pull-up (1:17 on the video) or hop shots as he’ll enter the paint on the jump then shoot it. He’s not very good at it, but on the right block he shoots fadeaways easily cause his balance is great when using his right leg as set. And guess what? He’s ranked very good on that area. So the problem is his balance (and the plays set by Spoelstra) so he should better his balance or gain weight so he can pound the ball inside more.

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