So how do the Miami Heat follow up a near perfect offensive game? By using one of the weirdest defensive strategies that they have rolled out in a while, that’s how.
For the previous three years of the Big Three era, coach Erik Spoelstra had mainly taken to playing opposing big men one-on-one or throwing them off with a faint double-team. That’s the way that they have played everyone from the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert to Dwight Howard — in the Joel Anthony years.
The goal has usually been to let Howard get his buckets while keeping his three-point shooters at bay. But Tuesday night the Heat decided to go with committing another man to the All-Star center, leaving a Miami cut casualty (Patrick Beverly) to burn them with five threes.
However, when they changed plans and began two-timing James Harden they cut into the score thanks to overplaying the passing lanes and causing turnovers. But I guess they had no other choice but to pile up on Howard with Chris “Birdman” Andersen in foul trouble and an undersized Udonis Haslem on the court.
Dare I say that the Heat missed Anthony. Okay, that may have been a little too far, but they definitely could have used the big body that Ira Winderman of the South-Florida Sun-Sentinel spoke of:
“Erik Spoelstra made it sound as simple as the Bobcats game came first, so that’s why Greg Oden was used in that half of the back-to-back set. But with Dwight Howard’s foul shooting… there at least would have been more fouls to go around in the power rotation.”
Maybe Al Jefferson’s 38-points and 19 rebounds spooked them into inserting Oden early or maybe it evoked them into double-teaming a night later. Either way, G.O. could have put them over the hump — regardless of LeBron James running out of gas and Chris Bosh having one of his yearly in-season vacations.