By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted May 23 2011 12:16PM
MIAMI -- In winning Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, the Miami Heat made the No. 1 defense in the league look rather mediocre, scoring 96 points in a slow-paced, 84-possession game. And that included an ugly, 18-point first quarter.
In the final 36 minutes of Game 3, the Heat scored 78 points on 61 possessions, a remarkably efficient rate of 128 per 100. After what we saw in the fourth quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday, it's hard to believe that either the Heat or Chicago Bulls could put together an offensive run like that in this series, but Miami broke through at home four days later.
And they did it with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combining for just 39 points. Chris Bosh, of course, almost matched James and Wade by himself, scoring 34 points, his second-highest total this season and also his second-highest total in 24 career postseason games.
Favorable matchup for the Heat
After the game, Bosh said that he doesn't think about who's defending him when he has the ball. But the numbers through three games clearly indicate that it matters. Later, in his postgame press conference, he admitted that he's motivated by Carlos Boozer's pre-series quote about the Heat having (just) two stars.
Bosh has scored 74 points in the series, and 60 of those have come with Boozer on the floor, at a rate of 34 points per 48 minutes. When Boozer has been on the bench, Bosh has scored just 18 points per 48 minutes.
|Chris Bosh's numbers with Boozer on the floor|
|Chris Bosh's numbers with Boozer off the floor|
Incredibly, Bosh is shooting 17-for-20 from within five feet in the series and 16-for-17 when Boozer is on the floor. On Sunday though, only five of Bosh's 13 field goals came within five feet.
In addition to getting to the rim, Bosh had his jumper going in Game 3. Bosh shot 46 percent from 15 feet and beyond in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but just 1-for-9 in the first two games of the conference finals. In Game 3, he was 6-for-10 from 15 feet and beyond.
Rose's role reduction
Miami's offense has improved each game in the series, but just as critical has been their continued ability to keep Derrick Rose under wraps.
Rose scored 20 points in Game 3, but needed 19 shots to do it. He had more field goals from within five feet of the basket (four) than he had in Games 1 and 2 combined (three), but three of the four came in transition. He still can't get to the rim in halfcourt situations. And on Sunday, he attempted just three free throws and dished out just five assists.
Once again, the Heat did a nice job of blitzing the Bulls' pick-and-rolls to get the ball out of Rose's hands. They want to force Rose's teammates to make plays, and they did that on Sunday. Rose's usage rate (the percentage of possessions he uses while on the floor) in Game 3 was easily his lowest of the series.
|Derrick Rose's usage|
Even when Rose gets into the paint, he's not finishing, now shooting just 11-for-28 (39 percent) from the paint in the series. His teammates haven't been much better.
• StatsCube: Bulls and Heat shooting in the series
For the series, the Bulls have attempted 30 more shots in the paint than the Heat have, but they've made 10 fewer. Chicago is 54-for-130 (42 percent), while Miami is 64-for-100 (64 percent) in the paint.
At a plus-22, Bosh is tied for the best plus-minus mark in the series, and he's tied with ... Ronnie Brewer, who has done a solid job of defending Wade.
In the series, Wade is shooting just 5-for-15 (33 percent) from the field, including 0-for-7 from midrange with Brewer on the floor. He's shooting 16-for-35 (46 percent) with Brewer on the bench. This is a continuation of Brewer's success in defending Wade in the regular season, when Wade shot 38 percent with Brewer on the floor and 54 percent with him on the bench.
A secondary lineup at last
After 94 games of his team's season, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra still didn't have a set rotation. The only lineup that Spoelstra played in both Games 1 and 2 was his starting lineup. No other five-man unit played together in both games, a clear indication that the coach was still mixing and matching his bigs and point guards.
But in Game 3, with Udonis Haslem now back in the rotation, Spoelstra had a secondary lineup he could roll with. After logging just two minutes together in Game 2, the five-man unit of Mario Chalmers, Wade, James, Bosh and Haslem played 10 minutes on Sunday, outscoring the Bulls 24-19 in that time.
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