Prized Possession: Grizzlies - HEAT

The following is part of an ongoing series that features a single HEAT possession, one which may not result in points but gives the team the best chance to win. It is impossible to duplicate an individual shot, but it is possible to re-create the same opportunities, and the effort that went into earning them.

Despite nearly perfect results – a 30-point win, All-Stars playing under 35 minutes, distributed scoring and a 67.5 assist percentage – the Miami HEAT did not play a perfect game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Some possessions lagged, there was over-dribbling, poor shot selection and rushed execution, but the percentages were kind and the HEAT continued to score at an astronomic rate of over 1.3 points per possession.

A team can be consumed that that sort of success, however brief it actually was. A few off-balance jumpers fall and things start to feel a little too easy. Execution becomes an after-thought. Even as the offense continues to produce, the foundation begins to crumble, sinking lower and lower into the abyss of probability.

The HEAT are no strangers to this issue, but in two consecutive wins, they’ve sidestepped most threats to their own execution. The results are plays that, due to some rhythmic inconsistencies, will never be put in a time capsule, but because of the principles at play, are imperfectly perfect.

Even as the possession begins, the spacing is not ideal. As Joel Anthony sets a pick for Dwyane Wade, he rolls in the direction of the rim and almost tramples Wade, who is trying to split the defenders. And despite Mario Chalmers having been hot from the perimeter the past couple of games, both his and LeBron James’ defenders are shading into the lane to deter Wade.

This leaves four possible defenders in Wade’s path, which leads to his first jump pass. It’s a habit that has led to turnovers in the past, but with both weakside defenders sagging in, it was likely clear to Wade that he had two immediate outlets, the closest of which was Chalmers.

With his confidence at a season-high – most have noted his past few games, but Chalmers has been increasingly more steady at the point over the past month – Chalmers does not hesitate in reading the available space and splitting two defenders to get to the rim, where he is met by a big man.

During all of this, Anthony has subtly continued his dive to the rim, where he latches on to Zach Randolph to free Chris Bosh at the weakside elbow. Had he flashed to the ball for Chalmers – presenting a difficult passing lane – Bosh may have been covered, but by sacrificing his own offensive positioning for Bosh, Chalmers has his kick-out option.

Just as Chalmers could have forced a three on his initial catch, Bosh could have easily settled for this jumper. Instead, he waits to see which defender will react to his being open. The defender is Wade’s, who, instead of spotting up for three, cuts to the rim. Bosh hits Wade, but with the spacing still a little jumbled, he’s again thwarted by a wall of defenders. Thus, jump pass No. 2.

Because of the movement of his teammates, Wade has two fantastic options. He can either hit Chalmers, who continued through the paint after his pass and spotted up in the left corner, or, if James cuts baseline, drop the ball behind the defense. And with each defender effectively out of position thanks to the quick decisions of each player, James’ quick cut earns a perfect payoff.

Could things have been better? Sure. So too could have been Memphis’ defensive rotations. But here Miami was so unselfish, and the process so overwhelming with its speed and angles of attack, the results can speak for themselves. If results could talk.

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