MIAMI – LeBron James established early on in this postseason that he would handle his business. He was focused and aggressive from start to finish. And though Dwyane Wade wasn’t at his best and Chris Bosh missed nine games, they were still about as good as you can get when it comes to secondary stars.
But as good as the big three were, the Heat needed more. Specifically, they needed guys to make shots from the perimeter.
“We need them hunting down shots,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said early in the first round, adding that he wanted Mike Miller taking 10 3-pointers per game. “We need our guys finding them in rhythm with timely passes, and for them to let it go, with absolute confidence. That helps our game, obviously.”
Simple concept. The shooters open up lanes for the attackers (James and Wade). The attackers create open shots for the shooters.
Miller never did take 10 threes in a game this postseason, but he came close in Game 5 of The Finals, shooting 7-for-8 from downtown to help James, Wade and Bosh win their first championship together.
“That’s why it’s fun playing with these guys,” Miller said. “They get a double and it gives you an opportunity. Tonight, I had some opportunities and fortunately I knocked them down.”
Miller battled back pain throughout the playoffs, couldn’t play more than a few minutes some nights, and seemed to hunch over in agony at every dead ball. He might need surgery in the next few weeks and didn’t rule out retirement after the game. But on the night his team had a chance to win a championship, Miller found the energy (flexibility?) to light it up and pour it on.
“Through the injuries,” Miller said, “I’m just glad they didn’t take me back to the barn and put me down.”
Miller’s 23 points (in 23 minutes) were the second-most he’d scored in his two season with the Heat. The seven threes were the most he’d made since January of 2010.
While Miller was struggling early in the series (he was 0-for-3 on threes through the first four games), Shane Battier was the guy knocking down shots. Battier shot an incredible 15-for-26 from 3-point range in The Finals, finishing with an effective field goal percentage of 85.5 percent in the series. EFG% = (FGM + (0.5*3PM)) / FGA
Mario Chalmers got into the act too, hitting five threes in the final two games. After shooting 32.5 percent from 3-point range through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Heat shot 42-for-98 (42.9 percent) in the Finals. Against their toughest opponent, they got the shots they needed.
James shot just 7-for-38 from outside the paint in The Finals. But it didn’t matter one bit, because he attacked the basket and his teammates made their shots.