After an extremely disappointing loss in game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-finals match up against the Bulls, the Heat regained their championship form and embarrassed Chicago in game two. A major catalyst in how the Heat pulled away from the Bulls was Dwyane Wade getting back on track about mid-way through the second quarter.
Here’s Wade’s shooting chart from game 1:
Eleven of Wade’s sixteen attempts came in the restricted area, which is a good recipe for success and the type of aggressiveness Wade needs to show because his mid-range jumper has been off for most of the playoffs. He only converted five of those eleven attempts, but eventually those shots are going to start falling. A big reason for the low percentage on those shots was the masterful pick and roll defense of Joakim Noah who, even with lingering plantar fasciitis, is still able to play good half-court defense on most possessions.
In game 2 it was a much different story:
Wade was an efficient 7-11 in just over 28 minutes played. Most of his shots once again came in the restricted area. Except this game, a ton of Wade’s attempts came in transition where, usually, Joakim Noah isn’t as much of a factor. In the open court running the break with such a fantastic passer and scoring threat like LeBron James, Wade can focus on using his smarts to find good angles towards the basket and use his crafty athleticism to finish at the rim.
Wade’s always been the king of off-ball baseline cuts, and shows it here sneaking behind Carlos Boozer (because, of course) for a reverse slam.
Turnovers against the Heat can be disastrous. Even with a bad knee Wade can out race most down the floor, especially when he receives a spot-on outlet pass — which is a routine play for LeBron James.
Since Wade’s mid-range jumper isn’t falling, Miami is going to have to find a way to break him out of that slump. And a good way to do so is by getting him easy shots at the rim early and often to try to help him find his offensive rhythm. During the regular season Miami was 2nd in the league in points per possession in transition at 1.21 , per synergy. In game 1 Chicago did a good job of holding Miami to just 9 fastbreak points. The Bulls defense deserves credit for displaying their expertise in that phase of the game, but as we saw in game 2, in the cases of both Wade and Miami in general — you can only keep the best down for so long.