LeBron James gets it.
The Miami Heat have tried to compensate for their rebounding deficiencies against the Indiana Pacers in other areas of the game, but LeBron understands he and his teammates cannot get pummeled on the glass.
"We can't afford to get beat on the glass by 20 [rebounds]. Can't happen," he said following Miami's Game 4 loss (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com). "As a collective group, we can't allow that."
Indiana out-rebounded Miami 49-30 in Game 4 and holds a 176-136 advantage on the boards for the series. The Pacers have also managed to grab an offensive rebound on 39.9 percent of their missed shots.
Pacers are grabbing the offensive rebound on 39.9% of their missed shots against the Heat this series.— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 29, 2013
South Beach simply can't have that.
Closing the gap on the glass isn't going to be easy for the Heat, though. They ranked last in the NBA with 38.6 rebounds per night in the regular season and are grabbing just 37.7 during the playoffs. Size is an issue for them.
The Pacers have no such problems. They ranked first in the league in boards hoarded per night during the regular season (45.9) and are bringing down 46.5 in the playoffs.
Offensive rebounds are actually killing the Heat more than anything. Roy Hibbert and David West combined for 10 in Game 4, and the Pacers had 15 as a team, which is slightly below their series average (15.3).
Which team will advance to the NBA Finals?
For the Heat to win, they have to find some way to limit the Pacers on the glass and bring their current rebounding deficit down.
Miami is still struggling from beyond arc (33.8 percent clip for the series), and Dwyane Wade remains an offensive wild card, so its usual avenues of dominance aren't as readily available. Simply shooting its way into the NBA Finals is no longer option. Not with Hibbert averaging 22.8 points and 12 rebounds per game in the series.
"That's always our game," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Kill the offensive glass."
Rebounding has never been the Heat's game or even a strong suit of theirs. But it now has to become one. And fast.
*All stats in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference and ESPN.com unless otherwise attributed.