What else can I say about this game that is more to the point than “too much Dwayne Wade”?
Forty eight minutes of deep shooting brilliance by the Heat, offset by mini runs and mini slumps by the Thunder. This game never really seemed like a game that the Thunder were going to win. It was close for most of the first quarter until the Heat took the lead at 22-19 late in the first, and never relinquished the lead.
The Thunder did many of the things that they’ve done successfully in the last 9 games, like getting to the line quite a bit, and win the battle of the boards, yet still the Thunder turned the ball over too much, and couldn’t seem to do anything about guarding the perimeter. The Heat just let fly from deep all night long, and the Thunder could only seem to counter that with average field goal shooting and a lot of free throws. The Heat launched 21 three pointers and hit 11 of them (52%). It’s tough to win countering that with one point free throws.
Tonight’s game was a bit unusual even for the the Heat. The Heat go to the line an average of 23 times per night. Against the Thunder, they didn’t bother with attacking the rim too often and only got to the line 14 times. Dwayne Wade averages 10 free throws alone, yet only got 2. He had twice as many three point attempts as he did free throw attempts. He also averages 21 field goal attempts, but tonight had 28. Why attack the basket? That’s a lot of work, and you get knocked around when you get there. It’s much easier to jack up shots if you can make them like Wade does.
The Heat are a big time jump shooting team. They shoot 70% of their field goals from beyond what is considered “close”. In other words, they take a lot of deep jumpers, both two’s and three’s. It seems to work for them, which it did tonight.
- I think it’s fair to say that Desmond Mason did about all you can do against Dwayne Wade. It’s not that he wasn’t all over him, because he was. He was bodying him up, daring him to drive, talking to him, bumping into him away from the action (which caused the two to have a little confrontation) and everything else you can imagine. Dwayne Wade is just “that good”. Tonight Wade just had one of those nights where he was even a little better than normal.
- One of Presti’s top priorities for trades, free agency or the draft from this day forward should be on acquiring a three point shooter. We shoot .368% from three which is above average, and would be about #14 in the NBA, yet we are dead last at thee point attempts. We attempt little more than 10 per game. I love our focus on getting to the basket and getting easy shots, but when you get there, and the lane is all bottled up, the drive and kick is a powerful weapon if you spread the floor with deep shooters like Orlando does. When you are behind by 10 points in a game, and have say three minutes left, it is a legitimate strategy to bomb away. Three point shots that are made will catch you up a lot faster than getting to the line, if you can get there.
- Tonight we see both sides of the equation. On one side, we have Nick Collison and Desmond Mason. Two great team guys who play stout defense and do all the dirty work that a team needs to have done. On the other side, you have Nads Krstic and….well, the player that we need Presti to acquire. These guys can maybe do 70-80% of the dirty work that their counterparts do, yet they can stretch the defense out deep. Collison and Mason aren’t jumpshooters, and I cringe when either tries to be. We have Krstic and Joe Smith to shoot deep in place of Collison, now we need somebody who is lights out from downtown to pinch some of D-Mase’s minutes and crank up the deep ball.
- We saw Miami put on the shooting clinic tonight. Besides Wade (who really doesn’t shoot for high percentage from three point land), the Heat have Dequan Cook, Chalmers and Diawara who shoot 42%, 36% and 34% respectively. We’ve got Durant and Green (whom defenses are always all over) and little else. Westbrook is shooting 29% from three. Joe Smith shoots a good percentage but has only shot 4 all season. Kyle Weaver has only taken 13 this year, and everybody else is out of the rotation (D-Wilk).
- I loved how Jeff Green repeatedly attacked the basket. He was rewarded with 9 free throw attempts.
- With Dwayne Wade out of the game, Brooks used a lineup for Wilcox, Collison, Durant, Green and Watson. That meant that Durant would likely guard Wade when he came in. Wrong! The second Wade came in, Mason came in to counter.
- I am not sure how to quantify it yet, but the defense just works differently when Collison is at center as opposed to Krstic. Krstic got more defensive rebounds but got no offensive rebounds. Collison got two offensive rebounds but only four defensive rebounds. He did get two blocks and only one foul. Krstic got 7 defensive boards and picked up three fouls. I think that Collison just puts his body on people a bit more, and is a much more instinctive offensive rebounder. Krstic has the longer arms and is taller and does more of the straight up defense with his arms up in the air. Krstic has a defensive rating of 105 in very small minutes, while Collison has a defensive rating of 107 (meaning that Krstic allows 2 fewer points per 100 possessions to his opponent) but Collison has a much higher offensive rebound percentage and total rebound percentage than Krstic. So, Krstic is slightly more likely to prevent his opponent from scoring than Collison is, yet if the ball doesn’t go in the hole, Collison is much more likely to get the ball off the rim, or get it back for us if we miss.
- We really need to address the rampant turnover situation. Mason and Westbrook each had 4.
- I mentioned that the Heat take 70% of their field goals from deep. By way of comparison, the Thunder take about 62% of their field goals from deep.
- Dwayne Wade spends a lot of his time trying to draw fouls. I saw him blatantly jump up into Mason’s arms and then launch the ball after the contact at least 4 times.
By the numbers
- The good defense we’ve been playing the last two weeks took a step backwards tonight. Our defensive rating was 111 tonight, but we had been holding our opponents to about 106 over the last nine games. Similarly our offensive rating was a low 100, where we had been going for about 107.
- The offensive efficiency differential can be easily seen tonight. We had 102 scoring opportunities (field goal attempts plus free throw attempts) yet only put 94 points on the board. The Heat had 99 scoring opportunities and put 104 on us. Those made threes by the Heat add up faster than free throws.
- Every Thunder player had a negative +/- except Kyle Weaver who was +4, and Wilcox who was 0.
- Green and Durant both had nice nights offensively, and were mostly mistake free. On defense however, Green didn’t do a good job of keeping Udonis Haslem off the boards. Haslem had 15, Green had 6.
- Daquan Cook, Diawara and Chalmers were a combined 9-16 from three.