In completely destroying the Boston Celtics Thursday night behind LeBron James‘ all-time great performance, the Miami Heat regained control of the series.Much of the credit for Miami’s Game 6 win is going to LeBron’s complete takeover, as it rightfully should be.
But if you look closely at how the game transpired you realise the Heat’s defensive adjustments should be given just as much credit for the big win.
ESPN’s Beckley Mason looked at the tape and noticed the Heat completely changed their defensive schemes, disrupting the flow of Boston’s offence.
Basically, Miami switched individual defenders as much as possible to hurt Boston’s continuity.
And although that led to size and athleticism mismatches favouring the Celtics, it forced them to abandon the pick-and-roll that worked beautifully in their three previous wins.
This forced Boston to score through isolation plays they’re not as accustomed to relying on (Boston led the league in assisted made baskets this season).
- Rajon Rondo exploded for 19 first half points, but looked gassed in the second half (only 2 points) and turned the ball over 7 times, mostly on forced pick-and-roll plays
- Paul Pierce could only settle for mid-range jumpers, going an abysmal 4-for-18 from the floor
- Kevin Garnett looked lost without being fed by Rondo on pick and rolls (the difference in Game 5) and only put up 12 points
So can Boston adjust?
Don’t ever count out a Doc Rivers-coached team, but as Mason explains, “[Coach Eric] Spoelstra and the Heat are trusting the numbers and hoping that the Celtics’ old legs will succumb to the challenge of scoring on their own.”
In other words, whether LeBron blows up again or not, Boston will still be hard-pressed to pull off a Game 7 win on the road if they can’t muster much more than the 79 points they put up Thursday.
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