Miami Heat: Who Should Miami Lean on to Fix 4th-Quarter Woes?
Only two losses for the Miami Heat so far this season, but the important aspect of those were fourth-quarter collapses.
A lot of this has to be blamed on the effort defensively, but for the most part, it is because of a fluent offense that eventually becomes stiff.
Miami must stop settling for jumpers and do what it does best: push the pace and get to the line.
With three stars to go to, Miami should not have a lapse in ability when it matters most. However, figuring out how to cure these obvious problems should be second priority behind staying healthy come playoff time.
Let's look at Miami's most logical options and what the Heat bring to the table late in games.
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Chris Bosh orchestrated possibly the most impressive win for the Miami Heat this season. Down two stars against the Atlanta Hawks, who beat them earlier in the season, Bosh hit a miracle three-pointer in the fourth quarter to force a triple-overtime game.
Not only that, he was Miami's best overtime player in a loss to Golden State, scoring six of his 16 points in the five-minute period.
He's not usually the go-to option at any point of the game for Miami, but he can certainly succeed in a bigger role for the team. I'll always say Bosh is a true star in the league, but he needs a chance to prove it more often.
At 6'11", Bosh possesses the best mid-range jumper of any member of the Big Three. Giving him the ball around the middle of the free-throw line only opens cutting lanes for Dwyane Wade or LeBron James.
While Miami is often forced to settle for jump shots during a brutal stint facing a zone defense, Bosh is one of the two keys needed to break the pressure.
The man isn't the most physical specimen in the world, but there is no doubt he is a great scorer in the league.
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Dwyane Wade has been the finisher for Miami this season. He already has two game-winners and seems to be the most confident option going into the fourth quarter.
No one ever questions Wade's confidence or desire while facing pressure-filled moments.
He was huge for Miami's first-ever title run in 2006 and hasn't been shy since. Wade scores in bunches and can easily be the best player in the NBA while on a hot streak.
That being said, it's logical to go to the confident and willing player down the stretch, right?
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Oh dear, LeBron—what happens to you in the fourth quarter?
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA in the first three quarters of the game but is often criticized for his ability in the clutch.
While that has some merit, he has samples of looking unstoppable in late-game situations. Just watch as he torched both Boston and Chicago in last season's playoffs in the midst of advancing to the NBA Finals.
That being said, we also have the negative evidence of the championship series, which speaks for itself.
James is sometimes passive in big situations and tries to hard to facilitate. Seeing him push the issue and attack the basket is a must for Miami to open up the court and set up opportunities for others.
More than ever in his career, James has stopped settling for bad jumpers and three-pointers, but he must keep true to this in the fourth quarter.
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Dwyane Wade can't do it himself. Neither can LeBron James. Same goes for Chris Bosh.
The key for Miami is simple: Mix it up.
No other team is blessed with as many star options that can take over a game at any time as the Heat. We have witnessed success for all three players throughout the stint, but we have also watched the failures.
Allowing defenses to focus on one player on a game-changing play must be avoided. So far the go-to guy has noticeably been Wade thus far in the season.
How long will it take before defenses catch on to that?
Spread the floor with two shooters on the wings like James Jones and Mario Chalmers, but mix it up with the three obvious options on the court.
Miami must learn to succeed in these situations if it wants to win; that was proven last year. With plenty of powerful options down the stretch, there is no excuse for constant collapses in the last minutes of a game.
This team is too talented to be plagued by this. We still have a long season ahead of us, so look for Miami to keep defenses guessing and finally work together to break zone defenses.