USA TODAY Sports
Miami adjusted their talent at both ends of the floor to create a punishing advantage over the Pacers.
When preparing for the Miami Heat, Frank Vogel doesn't talk about the Big Three but instead the Big Four. He considers the supporting cast, often found lurking around the three-point line, as a factor that can burn any team if they focus solely on slowing down LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
At least when Miami was on offense on Sunday, the Pacers kept LeBron and Wade from taking over the game. This isn't to say that LeBron and Wade didn't have a big impact on the win, since their disruptive, aggressive defense was lethal. Plus, as Mike Prada displays, the two Heat stars drew plenty of attention from Indiana's defense. But at the offensive end the Heat knocked out the Pacers thanks to Chris Bosh and the supporting cast, led by Mario Chalmers, taking and making the open shots the Pacers were allowing in the half court.
A big factor in Bosh's success was his ability to knock down his patented mid-range jumper which can be streaky at times. Bosh was barely part of the playoff series last year, but as Heat.com breaks down quite nicely, the power forward playing center for the Heat, rose up to burn the Pacers on Sunday night by taking what the Pacers were giving.
Mid-range shots may generally be the worst shots in basketball, but there is always - always -- necessary context involved in a scheme. If the Pacers give up less than 100 points per 100 possession but are going to give up wide open mid-range looks, then if you can make half of those open shots you'll be scoring more than a point per possession and therefore outperforming Indiana's defense (in the general sense).
Fortunately for Miami, Chris Bosh fits the bill.
It's easy to forget that Bosh barely played two quarters in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, but when Erik Spoelstra committed to playing Shane Battier and LeBron James at power forward the team was without its safety valve. As a result, the HEAT shot 13-of-48 between the paint and the three-point line in their Game 2 and Game 3 losses.
Now, the HEAT have Bosh back in the equation. And the equation is adding Bosh, the league's best high-volume mid-range shooter at 51.5 percent, to the Pacers defense, which gives up more mid-range shots than any team in the league (28.7 per game). On Sunday, the result was 24 points and nine made jumpers for Bosh and a 15-point victory for the HEAT.
So yeah, if Bosh has that mid-range jumper rolling and the Heat get big contributions from their supporting cast, the Pacers (along with the rest of the NBA) are at Miami's mercy.
Bosh was available in the two losses in Indy but didn't make nearly the impact. On Sunday on his home court, Bosh made eight of 11 mid-range shots which also drew the Pacers bigs away from patrolling the lane. In Miami's Jan. 10 loss at the Fielhouse, Bosh made four of nine mid-range jumpers and finished with 14 points. In the Feb. 1 loss, he scored 13 points and made three of seven jumpers.
In the first two games, the Pacers won by playing at a high level on both ends of the floor, but even with Bosh contained, had to fight like hell to secure the Ws. On Sunday, Bosh took advantage of the same shots the Pacers are always willing to concede and became the difference maker for the Heat on the offensive end.
Those depth of options Miami can tap into from game to game along with the variety of ways they can attack a defense are what separates the defending champs from contenders like the Pacers who need to play their game and play it exceptionally well to consider beating the Heat on a given night.
Anybody else ready to see Minnesota at the Fieldhouse? Yep, time to move on.