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Prized Possession: HEAT-Pacers

Tuesday night was defined by the magnificent. Dwyane Wade’s layup bonanza on his way to 22-first quarter points and 41 overall. Wade’s turnaround rainbow jumper that reached higher than the shot clock. A 90-foot alley-oop from Wade to a streaking LeBron James. Chris Bosh going around his back and taking the ball coast-to-coast for an and-one finger roll. James losing his dribble at the free-throw line, then lobbing the ball off the backboard to himself for a dunk.

The superlatives were all deserved and, sometimes, not enough. The alley-oop in particular is worthy of historical status. But even with all those highlights against the Indiana Pacers, for large stretches of the game, the Miami HEAT were lacking as an offensive unit.

It may seem counterintuitive considering the HEAT attempted their second-most shots at the rim of the season (30), but from the final minutes of the first quarter on, things began to backfire.

Indiana made its defensive adjustments, particularly using Paul George on Wade, but as will happen in the period after an extraordinary individual effort, it can take some time for the offense to start clicking again once those one or two heat-checks strike iron.

This time, the lapse in execution – and predisposition to quick shots that allowed the Pacers to leak out off misses – lasted until the fourth quarter. Then, Erik Spoelstra went with a lineup of Wade, James, Bosh, Eddie House and Erick Dampier, and the HEAT turned to their three-man corner offense, with Bosh anchoring sets from the left elbow. Sets that gave us this quick hitter:

Bosh immediately sets up on the elbow and receives the ball from Wade, with James waiting in the corner. House spaces the floor from the weak corner, and though Miami often runs corner sets with another shooter on the wing, here they are using Dampier as a weakside rebounder and cutter option.

Wade slow-cuts past Bosh, which is actually the sets first option. At another point in the fourth quarter, James set up Bosh at the elbow and quickly received the handoff, taking the ball in for a layup – something you also see James run with Zydrunas Ilgauskas early in games.

But with George playing close enough to disrupt the handoff, Wade moseys on through to the left block. Wade sees Danny Granger playing James chest-to-chest, which is a good opportunity to free a teammate with a screen since the defender won’t have enough space – especially in the corner – to avoid Wade’s contact and defend the passing lane.

So, Wade sets the pick, Granger jumps behind it, and James dives to the rim over the top. Bosh feeds James, who finishes with the left hand.

At other times in the quarter, either Wade or James posted up after either the initial cut, or after setting the back pick, one replacing the other as they move. Once, they drew the weakside defense and Dampier received the ball with an open lane to the rim, where he finished. Or the defense sagged onto the perimeter players and Bosh was left with the jumper from the elbow.

This is not a set that just any team can run. It requires players with the ability to read different situations and react accordingly, but they also have to have the passing and finishing skills to capitalize on the opportunities created by the movements – the same skills necessary for Los Angeles’ triangle sets. And when the HEAT were failing to pressure Indiana’s defense – as opposed to Sunday when Boston was simply disrupting the well-intentioned halfcourt sets – it was the perfect offense to manufacture new opportunities.

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