The Miami Heat evened their series against the Indiana Pacers 1-1 with Tuesday night’s 87-83 victory. The Eastern Conference Finals now shift back to Miami where the Heat are a perfect 5-0 this postseason. Having home-court advantage for the remainder of the series will certainly benefit the Heat, but it does not guarantee them a trip to the NBA Finals. Miami has struggled in several key areas of play in their series against Indiana that may eventually lead to their downfall. One important area Miami will have to improve upon in order to advance is their three-point shooting.
During the regular season, Miami shot 36.4 percent from three-point range and made 8.1 three-point field goals per game. The Heat improved upon their regular season outside shooting statistics in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Against the artist formerly known as the Charlotte Bobcats and the Brooklyn Nets, Miami shot a combined 38.7 percent and averaged 9.1 made threes per game.
Coming into their series against the Pacers, the Heat expected to use their three-point shooting as a weapon to put Indiana in vulnerable defensive positions. Miami hoped to use small-ball lineups featuring at least four quality three-point shooters on the floor at all times. The Atlanta Hawks used a similar approach against the Pacers in the opening round and caused Indiana fits, nearly resulting in an upset.
Through two games against Indiana, Miami’s strategy has not gone according to plan. The Heat’s three-point shooting numbers have dropped off in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami is shooting 32.6 percent and averaging just seven made three-pointers per game in the series. The Heat’s inability to hit from the outside has limited their ability to space the floor and clogged their offense for long stretches.
Chris Bosh, in particular, has struggled from three in the first two games of the series. Bosh has shot just 1-of-9, down significantly from the 33.9 percent rate he made during the regular season. While two games is a small sample size, his poor outside shooting against the Pacers extends beyond this series. Bosh has hit just 3-of-14 threes against the Pacers on the season.
Part of the reason why Bosh is shooting so poorly against Indiana is likely the load he carries on the defensive end. Bosh’s primary defensive assignments against the Pacers are Roy Hibbert and David West, two physical players that wear down their defenders. The same issue is plaguing Shane Battier, who has attempted just three three-point field goals in the first two games of the series. Battier is one of the players Miami thought could space the floor against the Pacers and pull one of their bigs away from the basket. His inability to hit from three has left him nearly unplayable in the series.
Look for Miami to run several plays for Bosh early in Game 3 to get him in a groove offensively. If Bosh is hitting outside shots, Miami’s offense becomes extremely dangerous. If he cannot hit from three, the Heat risk losing the precious home-court advantage they just gained.