Miami's Big 9 Hosts Block Party
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It all came down to this: 15 possessions that led to 33 points.
In other words, the Miami Heat, in an 8-minute, 36-second third-and-fourth-quarter stretch encompassing 15 possessions, scored a massive 33 points.
To show how ridiculous that number is, both the Heat and Spurs average an NBA-leading 1.09 and 1.06 points per possession.
That means 16.5 points-or-so is expected with 15 possessions.
That's double the expected value.
Now can you see how 33 points in 15 possessions is downright ridiculous?
But that's what happened Sunday in NBA Finals Game 2 when LeBron James teamed with starter Mario Chalmers and subs Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Chris "Birdman" Andersen to go on the wildest ride of the night, a rally that helped the Heat overtake the Spurs, 103-84, to even up the 2013 NBA Finals at one win apiece.
I think it's safe to say Miami's Big 3 now has given way to a Big 9.
And that, by no means, is a knock on the injured Dwyane Wade, who played OK, providing 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting, 3 rebounds and 6 assists, or Chris Bosh, who played bigger, scoring 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, with 10 rebounds and 4 assists.
But it was LeBron James' supporting cast that capitalized on the four-time MVP's all-around skills during that 15-possession span that broke this game wide open for the Heat.
Take a look at each possession.
LeBron may not have scored the bucket every time, but he was instrumental in creating the points, via shooting, passing or screen-setting.
Nothing illustrates that better than his +29 plus-minus score, though his box-score line does point out overall proficiency: 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and 2 turnovers.
Still, the following possession breakdown of the Heat's 33-5 run also paints a clear picture of just how dominant LeBron and his supporting cast truly were.
1. CHALMERS SCORES OFF LEBRON SCREEN
It all started when Spurs shooting guard Danny Green--in the midst of a picture-perfect 17-point, 6-for-6 shooting performance with 5-for-5 on 3s--picked up two bad calls and his second and third foul, forcing him to sit the bench. This happened moments after Green pump-faked LeBron at the three-line, then drove on the Heat for a layup to put San Anton' up 62-61 with 3:49 to go in the third quarter. The second Green foul was on a driving Chalmers, who beat Gary Neal off the LeBron screen, and-1'd Green then made the free throw as the Heat took the lead back. Miami, 64-62, 3:11, 3Q.
2. LEBRON THROWS TURNOVER TO GINOBILI
After Neal loses on a Manu pass through his fingers out-of-bounds, LeBron loses an iso challenge of Leonard off a Chalmers pick, losing the ball to Manu Ginobili, which leads to a Birdman foul.
3. LEBRON PENETRATES, PASSES TO CHALMERS, SWINGS TO ALLEN FOR 3
Substitutions were made after the Chalmers free throw, with Ray Allen and Chris "Birdman" Andersen replacing Miami Big 3 founders Wade and Bosh. Allen, who has been showing off his "He Got Game" stroke in the NBA Finals (6-for-9 on 3s) got set up nicely on a 25-foot three-pointer, on a fast-breaking swing-passing assist from LeBron to Chalmers to Allen. The break was et up when Chalmers tied up the ball when Manu Ginobili was driving to the hoop. Miami 67-62, 2:25 3Q.
4. CHALMERS GIVES-&-GOES TO SLIP-SCREENING LeBRON
After Duncan missed a 11-foot baseline post-up on Birdman, Chalmers pushed the pace on the rebound, went into an immediate screen-roll with LeBron. Bucket. Miami, 69-62, 1:50 3Q.
5. CHALMERS & LEBRON SCREEN & ROLL, THEN LEBRON KICKS OUT TO MILLER FOR 3
Duncan tried to exploit the mismatch on Birdman, up-and-undered him on a 5-footer, but Birdman fouled him before Duncan could get the ball to the rim. He made one of two free throws, Spur Kawhi Leonard got his 14th and final rebound on the second shot, a miss, setting up Tony Parker with a new 24 shot clock, and allowing Parker to get a teardrop off in the lane. When Miami gets the ball, Chalmers and LeBron try to run the pick-and-roll again, but Parker and Leonard cut it off, while Gary Neal takes a swipe as Lebron crashes the lane with the ball. But for some reason, Neal stays in the key to watch LeBron, who sees this, passes it to Neal's man Miller at the three-wing spot and--swish--Miller drains it. Miami, 72-65, 0:59, 3Q.
6. CHALMERS GETS THE AND-1 OFF LEBRON SCREEN & ROLL
Parker uses screen to get in lane, but misses shot on Birdman. Ball knocks back out to Parker, who drives, but loses when ball is tipped out of bounds by Heat. Duncan takes inbounds and miscommunicates pass to Manu Ginobili as ball sails out of bounds. On the other side of the floor, Chalmers uses LeBron screen to challenge Leonard and gets the and-1. For those of you scoring at home, that's 11 points on 4 possessions since Allen and Birdman came into the game at the 3:11 mark. Miami, 75-65, 0:09.
7. SOMEONE ON HEAT FINALLY MISSES SHOT
LeBron deflects a Neal lob to Leonard, Leonard fouls LeBron, Heat ball. Chalmers finally misses, on a 17 footer off a LeBron screen. It is countered by a Parker 15-foot airball over the outstretched arms of Birdman and Chalmers.
8. LEBRON SCORES ON ISOLATION
LeBron goes iso on Leonard and nails 17-footer at the left elbow. Miami, 77-65, 10:56 4Q.
9. LEBRON POSTS UP AND SPOTS MILLER FOR 3
Manu tries to lose LeBron on screen-and-release with Leonard, but LeBron reads it and challenges Manu three-point attempt at top of the perimeter. Birdman grabs the rebound. On the flip side, LeBron posts up Manu, Splitter comes to help, Neal sinks into the lane, LeBron reads Miller slipping to the right corner 3 and bullets a pass from his left block post-up spot. It's good! Miami, 80-65, 10:30 4Q.
10. CHALMERS & LEBRON SCREEN & ROLL YET AGAIN, LEADING TO CHALMERS SCORE
Neal misses a wild 27-foot 3-pointer (it's getting to that tipping point, people) and Birdman rebounds. Subsequently, Birdman gets a left block post-up feed from LeBron--at the top of the key--after losing Leonard on a pick-and-roll switch and sealing off Neal, who is forced to foul him, with the Spurs not in the bonus yet. On the inbounds, Chalmers uses a LeBron screen to get in the paint and score a 9-footer over Leonard. Miami, 82-65, 9:42 4Q.
11. LEBRON SCORES BREAKAWAY OFF STEAL
After a pair of fouls on Birdman and Miller fighting over screens--Neal actually pushed Birdman into his foul--Splitter loses the ball to Chalmers, who strips the Spurs big man up high in the paint. on a Green-and-Splitter pick-and-roll (yes, Green finally re-entered the game for Manu at the 9:55 point). After the strip, LeBron tips the loose ball to Miller who flips it forward for a LeBron coast-to-coast run-down layup. Miami, 84-65, 9:18 4Q.
12. ALLEN COLLAPSES PAINT, LEADING TO BIRDMAN FREE THROWS
After a Spurs timeout and a Neal bucket to break the long Spurs drought, Miami gets a couple Birdman free throws, following an Allen roll off LeBron's body, leading to a paint penetrate and pass to Birdman. Miami, 86-67, 8:44 4Q.
13. CHALMERS & LEBRON SCREEN & ROLL.
Preceding Allen's trey was the game's most memorable play, when Splitter slipped a screen, received a bounce pass from Parker, took it to the rim with impunity, only to have LeBron throw it back in his face for the best rejection since Hibbert stopped Melo. After preening for a second to admire his gigantic feat, LeBron caught up with the rest of his teammates, set a slip screen for Chalmers, received the Chalmers pass at the left elbow and found a wide-open Allen in the right corner spot for a 3. Miami, 89-67, 8:06, 4Q.
14. LEBRON STEAL-&-DUNK COMBO
Parker penetrates and tries to kick out for a Green 3, but LeBron gets his hand on the ball, which bounces to Miller, who flips it down court, where LeBron races, retrieves and flies in for the rally-ending, game-capping dunk. Miami, 91-67, 7:43 4Q.
15. LEBRON'S 3 COMES FROM BOSH KICKOUT
Pop calls timeout. Subs his team out. Puts the third-stringers in. DeJuan Blair misses 10-footer. LeBron rebounds. Team passes it around. Bosh attracts a double-team, kicks out to LeBron. Three-pointer! Miami, 94-67, 7:13 4Q.
But what made this so great, from the Miami Heat's perspective, was that everyone was involved in a monumental run that will be talked about for days.
Game 2 will be remembered as the time when LeBron James had only 6 points and 3 assists in the contest's first 30 minutes, and he left it putting up 11 more points on 4 shots along with 3 assists in an 8 1/2 minute span, while his teammates added 22 more points during that time.
That's about as big as a Big 9 gets.