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Six things Miami needs to do to win Game 2

Jun 13, 2012, 5:31 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James pauses during a break in play against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals in Oklahoma City Reuters

This series is not over. From the Memorial Day Massacre to the Heat winning Game 1 last season, there is a long history of Game 1 of the NBA finals not mattering.

But Game 1 also gave hints of what could be the Heat’s undoing. They can no longer just expect to be the most athletic, fastest team on the court and overwhelm teams. They need to execute.

Here is a list of six things that need to change for Miami in Game 2.

1) Stop coasting. What we saw in Game 1 is what the Heat do all the time — they had a good first half with Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers stepping up, and they got comfortable. They took their foot off the gas and coasted for a while. Every time they do that this series the Thunder will pounce — to use Erik Spoelstra’s word, the Thunder are relentless. Miami is going to have to play its best basketball of the season for 48 minutes a game, not just in spurts. There are no more possessions off, no more quarters off.

2) Transition defense — try it. There was a moment in the second half of Game 1 where Derek Fisher — 37-year-old Fisher who has make a career out of being solid in the half court — led a fast break, beat every Heat player down the court, attacked the rim with Dwyane Wade there and scored over him. Lakers fans everywhere laughed. Fisher leads about three successful breaks a season and if he beats you down the floor and scores it’s on your defense. Miami was terrible in transition.

The best way to slow the break is to score more. But you’re going to miss and you need to get back, communicate and find your guy. The Heat didn’t do that in Game 1.

3) Defend in general, and stop switching everything. In the first half, the Heat trapped a lot off the pick-and-roll and that worked pretty well. But near the end of the first and at the start of the second half the Thunder started to adjust, so the Heat went to switching every pick. OKC ate that up and destroyed it. No more LeBron James on Kendrick Perkins (even if you are thinking about the switch).

And more energy on defense for the full 48. Please see item No. 1.

4) A couple guys from the bench needs to play quality minutes. That was essentially a six-man rotation for the Heat, who need to expend a lot of energy at both ends against the one team that can match them athletically. Scott Brooks could sit Sixth Man of the Year James Harden most of the fourth quarter because guys deep off the bench were playing well. LeBron and Dwyane Wade will wear down if they have to be the best players at both ends for 48 minutes.

The problem for Erik Spoelstra is: Who is that? Mike Miller is so injured he can’t play near the level needed. Joel Anthony doesn’t exist on the offensive end. A rookie in Norris Cole? Eddy Curry? When you sink all your money into three players it’s hard to get quality around them. (Don’t laugh Thunder fan, your cap/tax issues are just about to kick in big time.)

5) Get more out of LeBron James. This is a bit unfair as he was one of the few Heat players to show up ready to go for Game 1, but this is the reality of Miami right now — LeBron needs to have a legendary, epic game for the Heat to compete. That doesn’t mean he needs to score more — Erik Spoelstra needs to put him on Kevin Durant and have him defend. LeBron isn’t going to shut Durant down, nobody can, but you can make him less efficient, make him work for it. The problem is if you expect LeBron to expend that kind of energy on defense, somebody needs to step up the offense.

6) Get Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh involved in the offense. Nobody with the Heat will come clean about it, but does Wade look healthy to you? He shot 7-of-19 from the field and was just 1-of-5 at the rim — he can’t elevate and finish like himself. Spoelstra needs to find a matchup he can still win — get Wade matched up on Derek Fisher off a switch — and get him going.

Bosh — start him. Stop playing around. Next, get him in the paint. He took 10 of his 11 shots from beyond 10 feet — he has value stretching the floor, but he’s also a 6’11” post player. He can score on Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka from the block. In the regular season Bosh was about 50 percent in close, 50 percent from distance and Miami needs that balance again.

  1. trybe29dr - Jun 13, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    You could have stopped it at stop coasting…part of being talented is fighting off the feeling that youre so much more talented that you dont need to work hard

    • passerby23 - Jun 14, 2012 at 2:02 AM

      Kind of hard not to “coast” when you play 6 guys. What kind of energy expenditure can they give guarding an up-tempo, high octane offense and then try to score against a tough, athletic defense?

      The other points are well taken. Yes, they need more Bosh. They need to get to the rim. They need role players. You’re kinda asking subpar to average bench players to do more against a better cast. Much like the Lakers had nothing to give off their bench, asking the Heat bench to give them more isn’t realistic.

      “Be more productive, guys.” And I would like a million dollars.

  2. mungman69 - Jun 13, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Yes, why is Bosh playing so far from the rim so often? And how about a little help from Chalmers and Haslen. They are not superstars but they have to help.
    Look what Collison did for OKC. He isn’t a star but he was a thorn in Miami’s butt all night.

    • pmd5319 - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:09 PM

      Agree with you about Haslem, but Chalmers had a nice game (12 pts, 6 ast, 70% shooting). Not sure what you want from him? He had a better night than Harden (5 and 3), Fisher (6 and 1), and Sefolosha (9 and 2).

    • kings2014 - Jun 14, 2012 at 1:57 AM

      Bosh is playing far from the rim because that takes out kendrick perkins from the paint so it can open up more space for Lebron and Wade.
      And what more can you ask from Chalmers and Haslem. Chalmers had 12pts and 6ast and Haslem is asked to rebound and defend, he had 11 rebounds

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    The LeBron Worshiper is worried, I see.

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 13, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    And they didn’t “coast”. The first half was a fluke and the Thunder were playing tight. Once they loosened up, the 2nd half was more indicative of what you will see for most of the remaining four games of this series.

    • lmoneyfresh - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      I’ve got to agree with you there. Miami was shooting an ungodly percentage from 3 in the first half. Once both teams settled into their normal games, OKC rose to the top. Which I expect will continue to happen.

  5. franchiseplaya - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    I get wanting bosh to post up but they pull him away to open up driving lanes for wade and james, if he’s there he’s in the way. I think that would be worse because then if bosh passes out of a double team then that will make wade and james jumpshooters. i think most teams would want that, rather than have them creating havoc driving on defenses and living at the free throw line.
    miamis bench is a lost cause. they should expect nothing from it.
    miami doesn’t like getting a taste of its own medicine in terms of defense to offense. their transition D is brutal and it won’t improve with chalmers, haslem and battier. chalmers is completely lost on D and battier and haslem just don’t have the tread on their tires to rundown the gazelles on OKC. miami has to score to set up its D.
    DWades knees must be trash because he is awful right now. his knees must be filled with the same stuff that fills adam morrisons entire body and they need to be drained ASAP.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      Throwing yourself to the floor when no one touches you tends to have that affect on knees and backs. Hope he looks back 15 years from now and found it to be worth it.

      • lmoneyfresh - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM

        Not sure how many other people caught it, but the heat (Chalmers and Wade I think?) flopped pretty hard on two of the late 4th quarter inbound plays by the Thunder. It was pretty funny seeing the refs completely ignore their pathetic attempts at drawing fouls.

      • delius1967 - Jun 14, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        That last flop, near the very end on the inbounds to Durant, past beyond pathetic into surreal. Durant put out his arm to create space and the defender (I missed who it was) went flying like an extra in a Bruce Lee movie. It looked like he was jumping off a trampoline.

  6. censoredpost - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    As a Laker Fan I don’t care ( other than to say were #2 if okc wins lol). But in all reality all OKC did was hold at home in game 1 (68% of home teams win games) and still must do so in game 2. Or they have dug a hole. If James goes all Labronicus in game 2 OKC will be in that hole. If I was the Heat I go old school Pistons again and see if a bench warmer takin a run or two at these guys gets em off their game.

    • iknowzeroaboutsports - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      Thumbs down for not posting in English.

  7. gmen4life33 - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    1) Wade has to put up a Superstar stat-line, in terms of points, FG% and assists.

    2) Lebron has to take more shots in/around the paint then he does outside.

    3) Bosh needs to start, and try to post up OKC, to create his own shot or get open jumpers for team.

    4) Spo has to play more than 6 players (like he did in Game 1). OKC is too deep and play with too much energy for 6 players to match that.

    5) Lebron has to cover Durant himself for the majority of the time. If that means giving Lebron more minutes to rest, so be it.

    6) Whole team has to play with more energy then they did in 2nd half of Game 1.

  8. Louis Tumblin - Jun 13, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    OKC is going to make the Heat earn their wins in this series. OKC is younger and faster than the Heat. Miami will need to defend better if that’s possible.

  9. joeksnuffy - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    7) Develop mental toughness. The heat get rattled when the going gets tough. They seem to need to be worshiped and patted on the back. They seek the spectacular play, rather than hustling and playing sound team basketball, and they love basking in the glow of the adoration of their followers when they do. They feel entitled and believe the championship should be awarded to them just on the basis of their individual athletic abilities. All this hubris distracts them from the task at hand: winning. The problem with mental toughness is you either have it or you don’t.

  10. oldmanbasketball - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    The Heat weren’t coasting – they just stopped hitting their shots. Everyone should’ve known they couldn’t keep hitting 3’s the way they did the first half. The Heat will have to play perfectly and have monster games from LeBron to have a chance in this series. They may pull it off for a game or two – but I don’t think they can do it for 4. I’m still hoping for an epic battle between LeBron and Durant the rest of the series!

  11. dgbk - Jun 13, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    problem is the heat need lebron to have great a night all around. he was good on offense and so so on D in game 1. The heat need him to drop 40 plus and slow durant down some.. i honestly dont think its going to happen the man is or will wear down playin 46 mins a game will do that.

    i see others mention wade floppin. one play i remember was him losin the ball jumpin in the air like he was karate chopped then lookin at tge ref . the result was bosh runnin the ball down, this lead to a back court but showed a lot to me.

  12. daniel10017 - Jun 13, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    1-5) Fire Erik Spoelstra
    6) Put Pat Riley back on the bench.
    The Thunder will have answers regarding Bosh, everyone knows that Spoelstra will start Bosh tomorrow. How Brilliant! Pleeaasse. Just fire Spoelstra already.

  13. redblue560 - Jun 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    How about the 6 things Oklahoma Thunder needs to keep doing to sweep the Miami Heat ?

    The best thing that could happen is for the Thunder to sweep the Heat. Enough said.

  14. Miami305 - Jun 14, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    All the Heat players need to accept Jesus and ask Him for help.

  15. delius1967 - Jun 14, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    “Long history of first games not meaning anything” ? Did I not just see a stat on ESPN that stated that ~70% of the teams that win the first game go on to win the series? No statistical significance there.

    There’s no way that Miami goes 8-19 from 3-point range again. Definitely no way Battier goes 4-6 from the same. Without that anomaly, they would never have even had that early cushion. They are not going to win a shootout with the Thunder, so they better find an outlandishly great defensive scheme or they are cooked.

    Here’s hoping for the cooked! It would almost be worth having the Heat make the Finals just to see them get swept. That would make James, the reigning MVP and supposedly the greatest basketball player in the world, 2-12 lifetime in Finals games. Hee! How does someone become the MVP when he isn’t even the best player on his team?!?

    • cullenand99 - Jun 14, 2012 at 5:03 AM

      “How does someone become the MVP when he isn’t even the best player on his team?!?”

      Do you even watch basketball? Or do you just like hating on LeBron? You have to be a major idiot or a, God forgive me for saying this, “hater” to think that Dwyane Wade is better than LeBron.

  16. labratre - Jun 14, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    You people need to just sit back and watch the game. I bet none of you could guard D Wade or Lebron! Why so much hate for them? You people suck, have no lives to live, and are quick to criticize, and more than likely have no kind off athleticism, talented bone in your bodies. This is why you hate so much on the couch with your family sized bag of chips and killer can of soda! Yeah, you can get your tub of a person up and do what any athlete does. Just shut up, sit back and enjoy the finals. This is going to be one of the greatest, not because Miami loses, but more because it’s a great match up! Come on, you guys are bigger sports geeks than that!

  17. fanz928 - Jun 14, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    Stop playing haslem so much you need Turaif anthony bosh playing more and why not use eddy curry?

    • letangusespertplus - Jun 14, 2012 at 7:11 AM

      because miamis bench would get ruined by the thunders. harden and collison work so well off of each other

  18. Great Caesar's Ghost - Jun 14, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    The Heat are a creaky, old team. OKC is the future.

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