“It’s huge,” said Allen. “We just soften up the defense. It gives LeBron room to attack. It gives Dwyane room to attack. It gives CB some space. We just have to trust it. Keep moving the ball around and getting those shots. They’re not always going to go in but you just gotta always be a threat with that ability to shoot the outside ball and that helps everything to work on all cylinders when you can attack and you can shoot the ball over it.”
LeBron James might have shot 7-for-17 from the floor and finished with just 17 points, but when he has shooters who are confidently knocking home triples from all angles, it makes the Heat nearly impossible to guard as a team because it pressures the defense into giving up a high percentage look to somebody to knock down.
A Miller triple from a shade to the right of the 3-point line off of a cross-court zip-pass from James with 11:04 in the 2nd quarter is an efficient play that forces San Antonio to respect Miller for the duration of the game, thus opening up the court for players like James, Wade and Bosh to penetrate or operate with more space.
“We want him on the floor,” James said of Miller. “As teammates, we want him on the floor. We know what he brings. He’s a 6’7″, 6’8″ two guard/small forward that can shoot the ball from anywhere and can rebound at a high clip. With the lineup we had in the late third to the fourth, me, Rio, Ray, Bird and Mike it spreads the floor. It spreads the floor for our attackers.”
Now that Miami has put together a 10-for 19 shooting display from distance, the Spurs will have to figure out how to help on James in the paint while also recovering to contest shots from the perimeter when the ball is moved.
How Gregg Popovich and his team adjust to this challenge and whether the Heat can continue to consistently knock down their perimeter attempts will go a long way in determining who hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy whenever this series is over.
But here we are, right where we thought we’d be, heading into the middle of the NBA Finals tied at 1-game apiece, anticipating adjustments and stellar play from superstar players and superior coaching staffs.
Jeremy Bauman is an aspiring shooting coach and scout who writes columns and blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.