Following the Heat’s loss to the Pacers on Sunday, the Big Three will need changes to their game plan if they want to beat their conference rival in the series. Though LeBron James scored 25 points and Dwyane Wade put up 27, the team will need to focus on three major changes to pick up a win Tuesday in Indiana.
Chris Bosh Will Need to Step Up His Game
Chris Bosh had a disappointing game Sunday afternoon, scoring just nine points in the contest. With Wade and LeBron contributing heavily to the effort, Bosh will need to keep up with his teammates to avoid becoming irrelevant. According to Bleacher Report columnist Stephen Babb, Bosh’s main deficiencies in Game 1 were shooting 0-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc and not playing aggressively enough on defense to slow down the Pacers offense.
If Bosh wants to elevate his team and take the win Tuesday, Bosh will need to focus on improving his three-point accuracy and score from inside the paint. Defense will be another key area for Bosh to improve along with the rest of his team. Tim Reynolds, AP writer, may have put it best in his tweet.
Spo: "Chris has a great way of figuring things out as the series goes on and what's needed &what adjustments to make &I anticipate he will."— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) May 18, 2014
The Heat’s Defense Needs to Improve to Win in Game 2
It wasn’t just Chris Bosh who played poorly last Sunday; the entire team will need to focus heavily on improving its defense if it wants a chance at beating the Pacers. According to an article by Chris Schumerth from The Miami Herald, the Pacers were dominant on offense all afternoon, and the Heat couldn’t find a way to stop them.
Whether it was David West cleverly slipping inside for layups, Roy Hibbert backing Chris Bosh down, Lance Stephenson slashing to the basket, or Paul George and George Hill spotting up for three-pointers, the Heat simply had no answers.
With all five of the Pacers starters putting up double-digits last weekend, the Heat will need to avoid breakdowns in their pick-and-roll coverage and focus on increased rebounding—an area in which they were also beat out by the Pacers, 38-29.
Avoid Getting Distracted by Rivalry Trash Talk
The Heat-Pacers series has become one of the more heated basketball rivalries over the last few years, and Indiana guard Lance Stephenson took some cheap shots at Wade, who is suffering from a knee injury, prior to the game, according to USA Today writer Jeff Zillgitt.
Lance Stephenson: "D-Wade I think his knee is kind of messed up so I got to be extra aggressive & make him run…make his knee flare up."— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 17, 2014
More Lance on D Wade: "...Tell coach to run ‘floppy,’ make him running around, make his knee flare up or something."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) May 17, 2014
When asked for comment, the Heat players maintained that they wouldn’t respond, and their game on the court would speak for itself. Given the Heat’s play last Sunday, they didn’t respond well, and perhaps Stephenson’s comment got into their heads more than Wade let on, even though he said his knee hasn't been an issue. The Heat will need to prepare mentally, and not let any trash talk affect their play if they want to win Game 2.
Check out the Game 1 recap video to see how Indiana outpaced the Heat.
If the Heat Fall Short...
Who Will Take Game 2 of the Series?
If the Heat don’t win in Game 2, they will have home-court advantage in Game 3, which will allow them to feed off the fan energy in Miami. They will still need improvement on defense, Bosh’s contributions and mental clarity from distractions to win, but they will thrive at home, where they’ve only lost nine games this season. Even if the Heat go home 0-2, they have a good shot at Game 3, but will it be enough to win the series? Only time will tell if the team is able to come together and make the necessary adjustments to advance toward a third NBA championship.
Stats obtained from ESPN.com.