When the Miami Heat signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade, they knew they would need to sign some perimeter shooters. None of the “Big 3″ are above-average shooters from outside, although James has improved every year. In year one they signed Eddie House, Mike Miller and re-signed James Jones to be those guys.
However, injuries to Miller and the terrible defensive play of Jones and House led to Miami losing in the NBA Finals and searching for more help.
Before their second season, Miami signed Shane Battier to be that additional threat. He was a big difference-maker in the Finals and the Heat won their first title in the “Big 3″ era. At the end of the season, Miami made it their priority to continue to add to their perimeter depth. They signed the all-time leader in three pointers in Ray Allen and also another one in the top-10 in Rashard Lewis.
This gave Miami more shooters than they could play and the ability to match up against their opponent.
Miami won their second straight ring last year, but unfortunately had to amnesty Miller. They replaced him with Michael Beasley, another very good perimeter player, to continue to build depth on the bench. With James and Wade attacking the basket, the key for Miami to beat good defensive teams like the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs was their ability to knock down 3-pointers.
Last week, the Heat lost to Chicago 107-87. Miami combined to go 6-of-22 from behind the 3-point line, which is just 27.3 percent. That was one of the worst percentages Miami has had since the Big 3 came together, and they shot a minimum of 20 threes. The team has shot over 20 3-pointers over 100 times in the three plus seasons they have been together, but was never as bad as Tuesday night.
Against the Indiana Pacers, Miami went 4-of-21 from the 3-point line, which is 19 percent. The starting frontcourt for Miami — James, Battier and Bosh — combined to go 2-of-13. This allowed Roy Hibbert to play off of Bosh and protect the basket. He finished with only one block, but the 12-of-30 that Wade and James shot shows how difficult it was for them to score around the rim.
Miami executed their game plan perfectly by turning Indiana over 21 times and being able to get out and run. They also started off well, leading 30-19 at the end of the first quarter. Miami did not make a 3-pointer in the second or third quarter and for most of the fourth. James hit one with less than three minutes to go and Allen hit another in garbage time.
Even though they lost to Indiana, Miami should be encouraged knowing that they won’t shoot this badly four times in a seven-game series, and were missing Beasley on Tuesday. A win would have been nice, but the fact that they executed their game plan and should have won will be seen on film and gives them a reason to be confident in the postseason.