Five Things to Know Heading Into Game 5
By Brian Martin
So here we are. After four games of the East Finals, the series is tied 2-2. The Heat and Pacers have traded wins back and forth, with each team having already won on the other's home court.
How tight has this series been? The cumulative series score (Miami 402, Indiana 394) is separated by just eight points, thanks in large part to Miami's 18-point win in Game 3. The series has had two games decided by four points or less and one go to overtime.
|Game 1||103||102||+1 MIA|
|Game 2||93||97||+4 IND|
|Game 3||114||96||+18 MIA|
|Game 4||92||99||+7 IND|
It's now come down to a best-of-three series to determine who will play for a championship against the San Antonio Spurs. That brings us to the first thing we know. In NBA history, when a best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the series 83% of the time. These two teams were in a similar situation a year ago in the Conference Semifinals. Miami prevailed in Game 5 and closed out the series in Game 6.
Here is the points in the paint breakdown through the first four games of the series:
The team that has had the edge in paint points has won three of the first four games. The outlier was Game 2, which saw the teams tie with 40 points in the paint and the Pacers getting the win.
After Game 3, we discussed how the Pacers had surrendered and average of 50.7 points in the paint to the Heat in this series, after holding teams to 33.5 points per game in the paint in the first two rounds of the playoffs. In Game 4, the Pacers locked down the paint once again, limiting Miami to 32 points on their way to the win.
The teams may score in the paint differently -- Miami using drives to the basket by the links of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers, and the Pacers feeding the ball inside to 7-2 center Roy Hibbert and second chance shots off of offensive rebounds -- but the importance of dominating the paint is key for both teams.
After finishing near the bottom of the league in rebounding this season, it's not a big surprise that Miami is losing the battle of the boards in this series. But even if they don't outrebound the Pacers, they have to be close in order to have a chance to win. Here is the rebounding breakdown for the first four games.
Rebounding -- Miami vs Indiana -- East Finals
|Game||MIA Off||IND Off||Margin||MIA Tot||IND Tot||Margin|
|Game 1||16||17||+1 IND||38||43||+5 IND|
|Game 2||10||11||+1 IND||32||39||+7 IND|
|Game 3||6||18||+12 IND||36||45||+9 IND|
|Game 4||12||15||+3 IND||30||49||+19 IND|
Roy Hibbert already had 26 offensive rebounds on his own, compared to 42 for the entire Heat team. The Pacers dominated the glass in Game 4 as both Hibbert and David West each grabbing 12 boards and Paul George chipping in eight rebounds of his own. The Heat's leading rebounder in Game 4 -- Ray Allen, who had seven rebounds off the bench.
The Pacers were already among the league leaders in rebounding -- their 52.9% rebounding rate led the league and their 30.3% offensive rebounding rate ranked fourth in the regular season. Their offensive rebounding rate has grown by nearly 10 percent in this series, with the Pacers grabbing an incredible 39.9 percent of all available offensive rebounds against the Heat.
During the regular season, no team attempted (719) or made (309) as many corner 3-pointers than the Miami Heat, who connected on 43.0 percent from the popular shooting zone. That shot has abandoned them at exactly the wrong time.
|Corner 3||Above Break 3||Total 3s|
|Round 1 (MIL)||44||38.6%||43||25.6%||87||32.2%|
|Round 2 (CHI)||39||43.6%||61||31.1%||100||36.0%|
|Round 3 (IND)||30||30.0%||47||36.2%||77||33.8%|
In the Conference Finals against the Pacers, the Heat are shooting just 30.0% on corner 3s, which is their lowest percentage on the shot during the playoffs and far below the 43.0% they shot during the regular season.
Against the Pacers, the Heat are shooting a higher percentage on Above the Break 3s than they are in the corners, which has not been the case for this team, which thrives from the corners -- the Heat were 13 percent better from corners in Round 1, 12.5% better from the corners in Round 2, and 5.4% better from corners in the regular season.
The key here is the shooting performances -- or lack thereof -- from Ray Allen and Shane Battier, the Heat's long-ball specialists.
Ray Allen -- 3-Point Shooting
|Corner 3||Above Break 3||Total 3s|
|Round 1 (MIL)||8-15||53.3%||5-13||38.5%||13-28||46.4%|
|Round 2 (CHI)||3-7||42.8%||1-10||10.0%||4-17||23.5%|
|Round 3 (IND)||2-6||33.3%||3-11||27.3%||5-17||29.4%|
Shane Battier -- 3-Point Shooting
|Corner 3||Above Break 3||Total 3s|
|Round 1 (MIL)||3-12||25.0%||1-6||16.7%||4-18||22.2%|
|Round 2 (CHI)||7-17||41.2%||1-11||9.1%||8-28||28.6%|
|Round 3 (IND)||1-8||12.5%||1-5||20.0%||2-13||15.4%|
Battier and Allen are shooting 12.5% and 33.3%, respectively, from the corner three during this season, far below their season averages of 46.1% and 42.5%. Battier's accuracy from beyond the arc plummeted as soon as the playoffs began; he has yet to break the 30 percent barrier for a series, after being a 43 percent 3-point shooter during the regular season. Allen shot the ball well in the opening round against Milwaukee, but has been in a cold spell ever since.
The Heat's top 3-point shooters in this series by percentage are: Mike Miller (1-1, 100%), who has played a total of seven minutes in the series; LeBron James (9-21, 42.9%) and Chris Bosh (5-12, 41.7%), who has spent a lot of time on the perimeter trying to draw the Indiana bigs away from the basket and space the floor.
The only problem with that strategy is that it takes a 6-11 player away from the rim for potential rebounds. In the regular season Bosh grabbed 1.8 offensive rebounds and 6.8 total per game. In this series, those numbers are down to 0.5 offensive rebounds and 3.3 total boards.
Miami 3-Point Shooting -- Season vs Conf Finals
|Player||Reg. Season 3FG%||Conf Finals 3FG%||Difference|
It shouldn't come as a total surprise to see the Heat struggle from the 3-point line against the Pacers. Indiana was the top team in the league in defending the three in the regular season, allowing teams to shoot just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc.
That stingy defense has carried over to the playoffs, as the Pacers held the Hawks and Knicks below their season averages during their meetings in the first and second rounds of the playoffs.
Pacers 3-Point Defense -- Playoffs
|Opponent||3FG% Reg. Season||3FG% v. Playoff Pacers||Difference|
Through the first three games of the series, Miami's Chris Andersen was proving to be a difference maker for the Heat. The Birdman averaged 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting a perfect 13-of-13 from the field. After Game 4, Andersen still has not missed a shot in this series, but that is because he did not attempt a shot on Tuesday. He finished with 0 points and 2 rebounds in 19 minutes on the floor.
Andersen scores nearly all of his points on hustle plays and assisted baskets. When James, Wade or Chalmers drive the lane and draw help defense, the Heat playmakers often find Andersen at the rim for dunks or layups. In Game 4, the Heat had 15 assists as a team, their second lowest mark of the series. The lowest (14) came in Game 2, the other Miami loss. When Miami has won, they have averaged 22.5 assists. When they have lost, that average drops to 14.5.
In addition to assists, the win-loss corollary for the Heat can be directly seen in the play of Andersen. In Miami's two wins, he has averaged 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. In Miami's two losses, he has averaged 3.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.5 blocks.
The Pacers have their own player whose individual success often synchs up with team success. When Lance Stephenson plays well offensively -- as he did in Game 4 when he scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting -- the Pacers are tough to beat.
Lance Stephenson -- Playoffs -- Wins vs. Losses
|Team Result||PPG||FG%||3FG%||eFG%||FG% Paint||NetRating|
|10 Overall Playoff Wins||12.0||51.1%||34.4%||56.9%||65.2% (30-46)||+18.3|
|6 Overall Playoff Losses||6.8||25.0%||19.2%||29.5%||33.3% (8-24)||-6.6|
|2 Wins vs Miami, Conf Finals||15.0||48.1%||42.9%||53.7%||57.1% (8-14)||+21.6|
|2 Losses vs Miami, Conf Finals||7.0||20.0%||20.0%||25.0%||12.5% (1-8)||-1.4|