Culture of Hoops

Brooklyn Miami: The LeBron problem

The Brooklyn Nets got romped by the Miami Heat, fueled by a 20-9 run in the third quarter, turning a game that at one point was only 55-52 for Miami into a 75-61 lead that eventually ballooned to 21 points. The Nets were coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors while the Heat were rested from their sweep against Charlotte. From the eye test alone, it rarely ever felt that the Nets were close yet the score was only 46-43 at the half.

The Heat were masterful with their movement off the ball. They got LeBron James in different situations whether simply cutting to the rim or slipping the pick and using the aggressiveness of the Nets pick-and-roll defense against them:



The Heat shot 7-of-11 on cut situations via Synergy Sports. The Nets with their funky small ball lineups like to hedge rather aggressively in pick-and-roll situations, so the Heat ran counters to this by placing the likes of LeBron in different areas of the court in different scenarios. They even ran one play where LeBron was both the screen setter off the ball and eventually just made a looping cut off a Wade-Bosh pick and roll:

For the modest 22-assist total the Heat hit in Game 1, they moved the ball with fluidity and purpose, having multiple actions in every possession and getting whatever they wanted on offense. Miami shot 11-of-24 from the field in spot-up opportunities, a solid 45.8 percent from the field, and many of those possessions were where Miami had LeBron as a screen setter.

It’s one of the benefits of having someone like LeBron who’s passing and interior scoring makes him such a powerful weapon. LeBron by his standard was good but not otherworldly but his gravity as perhaps the best offensive tool in the NBA was heavily prominent. He was used as a screen setter, flashed to the paint on cuts, and was used in the post a couple of times. It was rather stunning to see LeBron do whatever he wanted despite Brooklyn having multiple assignments. Livingston, Pierce, and Teletovic were some of the individuals tasked with guarding LeBron.

The Nets themselves shot 47.4 percent from the field yet the turnovers in the first half didn’t help much in establishing flow within their offense. In contrast to the post-heavy offense that Brooklyn game planned for against Toronto, their actions were much more perimeter oriented. There isn’t a hard count on the amount of times Brooklyn ran horns action in comparison to their series against the Raptors, but even when the Nets ran horns, it didn’t have the desirable effects.

This isn’t to say that the sole reason the Nets gave Toronto fits was because they ran post-ups and horns actions. Deron Williams had success in semi-transition and Pierce had his way with the Raps big men. Williams had success against Mario Chalmers with his strength and ability to get shots off in transition with the Heat not having their defense set. Brooklyn does not want to turn any of the games into track meets, with live turnovers pretty much equating to two points for Miami. But even then, to leverage Williams’ strengths would mean risking this scenario.

Brooklyn will make their adjustments for Game 2, having more actions that’ll involve post-ups more than having pick-and-rolls in the half court, which plays into the Heat’s advantage with their blitzing schemes. The Nets should also improve on some of the cuts that the Heat pulled off simply by them moving one way and the Nets players forgetting where their assignments are. Despite this, what doesn’t change is Miami has the three best players in this series and if Miami keeps up the passing and the different ways LeBron was used, this series could end very quickly.

Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

To Top