It would be an understatement to say that the Miami Heat had a rough go of it in Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals, losing 111-76 to the San Antonio Spurs. Fortunately for Miami, the blowout only counts for one game in the series, and they have a great shot to turn it around in Game 4 to knot the series at two games.
The keys to a victory for Miami will be pushing the pace more, playing less small-ball and always playing at least one shooter at all times.
Pushing the Pace
But surprisingly, they don't get out in the fast break that much. They have played the slowest pace of any team in the playoffs this year, according to ESPN's Pace Factor.
The Heat rank 10th among the 16 playoff teams in percentage of points that are of the fast break, as well. But when they have pushed the pace against the Spurs, it has worked to their advantage.
In Game 1, the Heat kept the game very close despite the Spurs committing an NBA Finals record-low four turnovers. Part of this reason? They scored nine fast break points to the Spurs' four. Nine fast break points is actually a lot considering the miniscule amount of live-ball turnovers they had to work with.
In the Heat's Game 2 creaming of the Spurs, they held a superb 20-11 advantage in fast break scoring.
But when the series shifted to San Antonio for Game, the Heat scored only three fast break points to the Spurs' 13.
If the Heat are to win, they must run every chance they get and remember that the ball always moves faster than players.
Playing Less Small-Ball
In Game 3, the Spurs out-rebounded the Heat by a margin of 52 to 36. The Spurs recorded 19 offensive rebounds to the Heat's nine.
And the Heat let this happen to a team ranked second-to-last in offensive rebound rate in the regular season. Part of the solution is simply playing with more effort. The Heat were visibly outworked by the Spurs in Game 3.
Hardwood Paroxysm reported a Mario Chalmers quote from after Game 3:
Rio on effort: "It's the little things. We do the big things well, it's little things like rebounding, boxing out. " REBOUNDING NOT SMALL.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 13, 2013
But Erik Spoelstra can help remedy the rebounding problem further by playing fewer small-ball lineups. Arguably the three best rebounders on the Heat (Udonis Haslem, Chris Anderson, and Joel Anthony) combined to play just 27 minutes in Game 3. You aren't going to win too many games by making coaching decisions like that.
I realize that playing these bigs won't help much in the fast break, but the Heat don't usually get on the break with more than three players anyways.
If the Heat give Haslem, Anderson and Anthony about 15-20 minutes apiece, they will not be out-rebounded like they were in Game 3 again.
Playing At Least One Shooter at All Times
The Heat starting lineup is as follows: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh.
If you're the Spurs, are you really worrying about the long-distance shooting with that lineup on the floor? Not really.
Chalmers is shooting under 32 percent from three in the playoffs, Dwyane Wade is not a good shooter outside of 15 feet and the Spurs would rather have LeBron James beat them from the perimeter than from the paint.
My proposition for the Heat would be to play either Mike Miller or Ray Allen at all times (or close to it). With one or both of those guys on the floor, there will be one or two less players that will come to help on LeBron James when he penetrates. And once LeBron is more successful on his drives, Spurs defenders will inevitably start to sag off Allen or Miller, at which point James can hit one of them with a pass for an open three.
What will be the biggest key for the Heat in Game 4?
Mike Miller has actually led the Heat in plus-minus in their two losses in Game 1 and 3, with a plus-seven and a minus-three, respectively. So why not play him more?
If the Heat capitalize on all three of these keys, they should win Game 4. If not, a win in San Antonio will be much harder to come by. Heat fans had better hope that Spoelstra and the Heat players come more prepared to take down the Spurs in Game 4 than they did in Game 3.
And knowing the Heat, I think they will be prepared.
Note: All stats are from ESPN, unless otherwise noted or linked to.