After passing up game-closing shots in the All-Star Game and against the Jazz, Lebron James made big plays on both offense and defense to force overtime versus the Pacers. Let’s take a look at how the final two plays of regulation were so successful for Lebron.
Down by three, Miami’s play starts with Dwyane Wade circling around Shane Battier and Chris Bosh screens looking for a lob. I don’t think the play was designed to get the quick two-pointer via lob. Instead, Wade’s sprint to the rim was meant to attract help from David West or Tyler Hansbrough, who would later be involved in the play at the top of the key.
Instead of throwing the lob, Lebron passes to Battier at the three point line. He gets the quick return pass, and Bosh sets a pick on Danny Granger. If David West or Tyler Hansbrough got sucked in by Wade’s decoy lob, they could have been late helping on the Battier and Bosh screens. However, West and Hansbrough are able to hedge on Lebron. The Pacer defense breaks down because Granger doesn’t get past Bosh’s screen in time to prevent Lebron from spinning around Hansbrough’s help. Bosh’s solid screen gives Lebron the extra split second to perform his spin move. (Lebron’s move versus Hansbrough shows why I thought that he could have easily attacked Paul Millsap in the Jazz game.)
Lebron splitting the Pacers’ pick and roll defense leads to the scramble to recover on shooters and eventual open three for Lebron. Indiana’s recovery defense wasn’t bad; they forced the Miami shooters off the three point line. But Miami showed great patience to by not forcing contested runners in the lane. The full video is below.
On the ensuing Indiana possession, Lebron matches up with Darren Collison. Miami likely expected Collison to be the ball handler/initiator on the play, so putting an overwhelming defensive presence on him creates problems for the Pacers. Indiana had a timeout remaining, so perhaps it would have been wise to adjust the play after seeing how Miami planned to match up.
It appears as if the Pacers were planning on running a Collison-West pick and roll. However, Chris Bosh switches onto West and bumps him way off of his path. Bosh’s off-ball defense on West blows up the play that Indiana wanted to run.
With time running out, Collison is left to go one-on-one against Lebron, the matchup Miami wanted. It looks like Danny Granger realizes the futility of the situation and tries to get the ball. Collison loses control of his dribble and is forced into a jump ball. The full video is below.
Lebron answered some of his critics with his clutch play versus Indiana. Chris Bosh’s plays won’t be as heralded, but they were crucial in forcing overtime.
Tim Donahue of Eight Points, Nine Seconds pointed out that the Pacers’ previous possession was similar to their final possession. Lebron started the play matched up with Collison. Instead of Paul George cutting across the court, he came to get the ball from Collison and proceeded to run the pick and roll with David West. I’m not sure if the Pacers went away from this or if Collison declined the option to pass to George on the final possession. You be the judge. Video is below: