After their disappointing 102-106 loss versus the Philadelphia 76ers in game 4, the Miami Heat now trail 3-1 in the series. However, is it safe to assume that the Sixers have the series locked up?
Despite the Heat’s inability to contain Philadelphia’s potent offense, Miami will not go down without a fight, and head coach Erik Spoelstra will draw up a great game plan. Only 11 teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs, and if the Heat are going to be a part of this exclusive club, they will need to make several key adjustments.
The first adjustment that the Miami Heat need to make is to slow down the Sixers’ offense in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve had a tough time finishing games against Philadelphia and that’s been the issue,” said Spoelstra.
It seems that every game this series, the Sixers have completely out played Miami on the offensive and defensive ends in the fourth quarter. However, not only had the Heat’s struggles been a recurrent theme throughout the regular season as well. In the fourth quarter this year, the Heat shot 40.7 percent from the field, which is second to last amongst all NBA teams.
Additionally, the Heat also must continue to try to get Hassan Whiteside involved on offense, as his energy is a huge spark for Miami. He was much better than before in game 4, scoring 13 points with 13 rebounds. For the Heat to be successful, Whiteside will have to continue to be aggressive.
As Whiteside said after the game, “Coach gave me some minutes out there and I tried to make the most any time I got,” he said. “Coach said no regrets.”
A third priority for Miami is to limit perimeter shots from the Sixers, and this starts with good defense and protecting the ball on the offensive end. Heat big men must continue to play solid defense on the perimeter to prevent 76er bigs such as Saric and Ilyasova from obtaining open looks.
Furthermore, without protecting the ball and preventing turnovers, the Sixers will continue to run in transition and get easy shots. The Heat had 19 turnovers in their previous game, and if they continue to lack care with the ball, there is no chance that they will be able to come back.
Finally, free throws will be another important factor in the Heat’s success in the rest of the series.
As Spoelstra stated, “They’re a very good team. I think we played very well. We’re a very good team. Sometimes unfortunately it might be as simple as missing 12 free throws and having that disparity on the free throw line. It’s a good opportunities vs. freebies there and we weren’t able to capitalize on it. They had 14 more makes than us.”
If the Heat can make these key adjustments, there is no reason why they will not be able to make this series more competitive.
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