Game Time Start: 3:30 PM EST
Where: The Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Officials: M. McCutchen, M. Callahan, B. Kennedy, D. Guthrie
Media Notes: Indiana Notes, Miami Notes
Local Radio: WIBC 93.1 FM
NBA Feeds:NBA Audio League Pass (available free to NBA All-Access members)
NBA League Pass Broadband (subscription req'd)
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Series & Season Records: 2
Upcoming Games: May 22 May 24 May 26 at vs at
Projected Starting Lineup: C PF SF SG PG HIBBERT WEST GRANGER GEORGE HILL Projected Starting Lineup: C PF SF SG PG TURIAF HASLEM JAMES WADE CHALMERS
None to report
Chris Bosh - Lower Abdominal Strain (out indefinitely)
Eight Points, Nine Seconds Review: Jared Wade: Defending the Heat’s Pick-and-Roll and Flummoxing Dwyane Wade
I’m not sure when the pick-and-roll was invented, but it was probably about three weeks
after James Naismith hung a peach basket on a pole. It is among the most basic
offensive actions a team can run and it has been a staple play of virtually every NBA
team since the days of Bob Cousy. The reason: if run properly, it inevitably creates an
advantage, at least temporarily, for the offense.
There are many ways to defend the pick-and-roll. None of them work. Again, the offense
always gets an advantage and while different defensive strategies can limit that edge in
various ways, vulnerabilities remain. So the goal for the two defenders involved in the
play is to react to the screen and then recover quickly enough to ensure that both
offensive players are corralled into areas where they can do the least damage.
In recent years, the prevailing defensive philosophy used against the pick-and-roll has
been to blitz the ball handler and force him to give the ball up. I can’t say exactly when
or why this became the norm, but it probably has to do with players like LeBron James,
Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook being so adept at going by big men
in zero second flat and splitting any soft double teams. Players in the 1980s weren’t
doing it like they can.
Regardless of why, things done changed.
Tom Thibodeau is the leader of the new school. As an assistant in Boston and now as a
head coach in Chicago, he has implemented this “swarm the pick-and-roll” strategy to
help his teams play some of the best defense the sport has ever seen. It is the anti-
thesis of passively reacting to what the offensive team wants to accomplish in the pick-
and-roll. The defense becomes the aggressor, swarming the man with the ball and
rotating help defenders to stop the roll man from catching a pass and scoring at the rim.
Throughout the first three games on their series against the Heat, the Pacers have not
been doing this. They have instead done the exact opposite.
As the ball-handler (usually LeBron or Wade and sometimes Mario Chalmers) comes off
the screen, the big man does not run at him hard. He is barely even showing at all
actually. He is just hanging back and maintaining a pool-cue-length distance in between
himself and the guy with the ball.
This accomplishes two things that fundamentally alter how the rest of the play will likely
transpire. First, it makes it much harder for the ball-handler — no matter how fast and
crafty he is as a penetrator — from getting all the way to the rim. The big man hanging
back is essentially adopting a free safety mentality in which he won’t allow anyone to get
past him. Of course, the penetrator can just try to go over or around, but especially when
the defender is Roy Hibbert … good luck with that. He is 7’2″ and has been in a shot-
blocking zone for weeks now.
The other key difference with this strategy...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s
Heat Index Preview: 3-on-3 preview: Heat-Pacers, Game 4
In another installment of the Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes
on the storylines before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals (ABC, 3:30 ET).
1. Fact or Fiction: LeBron is right, Game 4 is a must-win for the Heat.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. The "must-win" meme is the worst thing to happen in
sports analysis since the basketball adaptation of the "closer" term. That may be a bit
strong, but our casual acceptance that a non-elimination game is a "must-win" has
gotten a bit out of control. If the Heat lose Sunday, they still have potentially two
games remaining at home. This isn't do-or-die. Yet.
Michael Wallace: Fiction. I know the point LeBron was trying to make, but I think
in a literal fashion, when it comes to this situation, it's not true. Elimination games are
must-win games. Neither team's season would end based on the outcome of Game 4. I
actually believe this game is bigger for the Pacers' psyche. The Heat can't go in thinking
this series is over if they don't win Sunday. Even if they're down 3-1, there's still a
game in Miami on Tuesday. Which means there's still a chance to start a rally.
Brian Windhorst: Fact. I think it is rather obvious that getting down 3-1 without
Chris Bosh and with the Pacers getting more confident by the minute is not a recipe for
victory. The difference between 3-1 and 2-2 obviously is vast, especially because it
would give the Heat back the home-court advantage. The Heat players have a lot on the
line here: reputations and futures and legacies. Way more than the Pacers.
2. Fact or Fiction: D-Wade came off worse than Spoelstra in Game 3.
Haberstroh: Fact. And that's a remarkable achievement by Wade considering that
Heat fans were calling for Spoelstra's pink slip after the Pacers went up 7-0 during the
Dexter Pittman Experiment of Game 3. And then sprinkle in the fact that Spoelstra had a
heated argument with the team's most beloved star. And still, there's no question that
Wade came off worse in Game 3. That's how awful Wade was in Thursday's game.
Wallace: Fact. I asked Dwyane on Saturday if he felt he made a mistake by
showing his frustrations in such a public fashion during that timeout blowup with
Spoelstra. He said it was just the byproduct of a heated discussion during an intense
time in the game. At the end of the day, I truly believe Dwyane was much madder with
himself than anyone on that Heat bench. His body just wasn't cooperating. He lashed
out. He looked bad doing it. Everyone insists it's behind them now.
Windhorst: Fact. Spoelstra's Dexter Pittman experience and revolving door of
subs was not exactly awe-inspiring. But Wade came off as petulant because of the way
he was playing, especially his hard-to-explain effort level. Combined with his inexcusable
flagrant foul in Game 2, Wade's attitude so far in this series has been has been poor.
Including snapping at his coach at a crucial part of the game.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Heat should still be favored in this series.
Haberstroh: Fiction. In light of the Wade injury stuff, I've moved from toss-up to
slight nod to the Pacers. I still think the Heat have a good chance of turning this around
and beating the Pacers, but I don't find it to be a likely scenario anymore. Not with Bosh
out. Not with Wade playing on one leg. I don't think this is an X's-and-O's problem as
much as it is a physical one. Does Wade still have the burst in his step to be himself?
I'm not sure. If he doesn't, it becomes a 1.5-on-8 ordeal.
Wallace: Fiction. Call me crazy, but I consider it a 50-50 series right now. Yes,
the Pacers have a 2-1 series lead. But I've seen the Heat rally from a 2-0 deficit in the
Finals to beat Dallas in 2006. And I've seen Miami hold a 2-1 series lead over the Mavs
last season in the Finals and squander it. I've always said the Heat seem to respond to
adversity far better than prosperity. But without Chris Bosh available and with Wade
ailing a bit, nothing less than their A-game will beat Indy.
Windhorst: Fact. If they split in Indiana, which is still possible, then they will
have done exactly what was expected of them and they will have control of the series.
Because this is still within reach, they are not yet desperate. They lose Game 4, of
course, then they become a heavy underdog. In short, it's a big game.
NBA Playbook Review: John Bennett: A Look at Roy Hibbert's Career Night
Hardwood Paroxysm Review: Eric Maroun: How Indiana Got Its Swagger Back
So that happened, huh?
I’d like to congratulate the Indiana Pacers on stealing a road playoff game against
one of the best home teams in the NBA. It wasn’t pretty by any means and it seemed
like both teams were giving the game away throughout the final couple minutes.
However, a win is a win in the playoffs and even the poor play by Indiana down the
stretch doesn’t change the fact that the series is now evened up at one game apiece.
Prior to Game3 of the Pacers-Heat series, my friend John who came to the game
with me asked who I thought would win. My political answer was either Indiana close
or Miami big. I simply did not see Miami winning a close game on the road, and I
certainlycould not fathom a reality where Indiana blew out the Heat. A little over
three hours after John asked me for my prediction, the Pacers had routed the Heat
94-75, and all of the sudden they find themselves up 2-1 in this series.
Some random thoughts from the game:
- Coming from someone who wrote an article months ago calling out the entire
city of Indianapolis for not showing up to games and finishing with the fifth
worst attendance in the NBA, the crowd last night absolutely brought it. The
18,165 fans in attendance clad in yellow “Gold Swagger” shirts served as the
poster child for the image the country should have when they think of Indiana
as a basketball state. From the very beginning, it was apparent to everyone,
fans and beat writers included, that this was going to be a playoff atmosphere.
- Roy Hibbert was an absolute monster. When Dexter Pittman was announced
as a starter, the gentleman sitting next to me, decked out in a white and black
LeBron jersey, declared the game was over and Hibbert was going to have a
big game. While the decision to start Pittman, a guy who had exactly zero
meaningful playoff minutes logged in his career coming into last night, was
curious, to declare even facetiously that the game was over before it started
was laughable. Three minutes later, the Pittman experiment was over, Indiana
was up 11-2, and I had stopped laughing. Hibbert’s final line ended up
resembling everything that Pacers fans could possibly want from their All-Star
center: 19 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks, and most likely one massive pay day
coming his way in the near future.
- Where do I even possibly begin with Dwyane Wade? The jokes have already
been made that he’s in the spirit of the Indianapolis 500 by bringing the
Brickyard to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse last night and how it was actually Miami
fans, not Indiana fans, who now wish he had been suspended for Game 3. But
there is something far more serious going on than his woeful five point, six
turnover, 2-13 from the field performance. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star
tweeted at halftime that Wade might be sick while Brian Windhorst reports that
Wade is being bothered by a lower leg issue that plagued him towards the end
of the regular season. Whatever the issue is, it needs to get resolved as soon
as possible because LeBron James simply cannot carry this team on his back
at this point...READ MORE AT HARDWOOD PAROXYSM