Surprised this adjustment has not gotten more attention, more discussion.
One thing that artest can do that Tinsley cannot is challange Wade's shot. Yes Wade can blow by Artest, but Artest can usually catch back up with him if the pacers help a little, and then Artest can disrupts Wades 12 foot jumpers.
Wade better find way around Pacers' Artest
By Greg Stoda, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 17, 2004
INDIANAPOLIS -- There's no secret.
It's no great mystery.
Indiana is coming after Dwyane Wade.
Maybe constantly. Maybe a lot. Maybe just when the Pacers deem it most necessary.
And, no, not strictly or even primarily in the rough-him-up sense (though there certainly will be large doses of that, too, given the player -- Ron Artest -- Indiana has assigned to implement its plan).
What happened through the first 4 1/2 games of the Heat-Indiana playoff series is Wade became the Pacers' biggest problem. The quicksilver rookie point guard cut too large a swath from perimeter to basket, and the Pacers were at a loss to do much about it.
It reached the point, in fact, at which Artest stated right out loud that Indiana was incapable of stopping Wade.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle listened, apparently, and he called on -- hey, lookee here, Artest -- to track and cover Wade sometime shortly after the beginning of the third quarter of Saturday night's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal round series in Conseco Fieldhouse.
And it worked.
Oh, man, did it work.
Wade scored exactly zero points during the 12-plus minutes Artest tracked him. That's more than a little significant considering Wade led the Heat with 16 points and had scored 22, 19, 25 and 20 in the previous four games.
Artest's time spent on Wade helped boost Indiana from a seven-point margin to a more comfortable advantage, which the Pacers protected well enough to win a third game -- to the Heat's two -- and gain an edge in the best-of-seven series.
Which is why there's sure to be more of the same coming Tuesday night when the NBA festivities shift to AmericanAirlines Arena where the Heat is unbeaten in its past 18 games but must now win again in order to extend its season.
"We should eat it up," Wade insisted when The Artest Plan was mentioned in the loser's locker room after the 94-83 loss dropped the Heat into gotta-win hole.
So he says.
But it was Miami coach Stan Van Gundy who said he "wasn't surprised" by Indiana's defensive adjustment except for the fact he "expected to see it earlier" in the series.
And still it rendered the Heat dysfunctional long enough for Indiana to lay the foundation for the important victory. His players, Van Gundy said, "weren't effective" exploiting other matchups created by the change of Artest's defensive assignment. Jamaal Tinsley, who had been guarding Wade, shifted to Eddie Jones and Reggie Miller shifted from Jones to Caron Butler in replacing Artest there.
Van Gundy's desire is to make better use of Jones and Butler "down in the post" if Indiana again goes to Artest against Wade.
Butler, too, remained firmly confident about Miami's possibilities should Indiana stick with sticking Artest on Wade.
"We have a lot of guys who can do things," Butler said. "If you don't know that, you don't get this team."
Get, he meant, as in "understand" the Heat.
The most important thing to understand about Miami at the moment, however, is that it had better figure out a counter move -- and fast -- to deal with Artest, who was the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year this season. He is four inches taller and much more muscular than Wade, and had an immediate impact against him by making the Heat use more possession-clock time getting into its offense.
And tick, tick, tick goes the Miami's series clock, too.
Carlisle, figuring it's best not to give away secrets, downplayed the strategy as nothing more than a method of giving Wade "a different look." So, in fact, did Artest by saying Wade played a "great" game and insisting "we didn't slow him down much."
Wade was downright dismissive of the tactic.
"There were times I could have run right by (Artest), but I was trying to run the offense and get guys shots (Van Gundy) wanted," Wade said.
Memo to Heat: Wade, if he really can run by Artest, should.
Otherwise, the Pacers soon enough will run all the way by Miami.