Entering halftime of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals with Miami Heat On Wednesday, and Boston Celtics It seems to be in good shape. Not only were they ahead by nine home runs, but they forced nine heat turnovers while hitting nearly 55% of their shots. They were dominating the action on both ends of the field and looked poised to cruise to an easy victory.
Then came the first half. And everything changed.
Heat burned from the depths. Stop coughing up the ball. In the third quarter, they went on a 17-3 run and outscored the Celtics 45-25.
“[We] Boston coach Joe Mazzola told reporters Wednesday night after the game A stunning Heat win, 123-116It’s the third time they’ve taken Game One on the road this postseason. “They were allowed to go out in transition, have second chance shots, and not guard the three-point line.”
It won’t make Mazzola feel better, but he can take solace in knowing his Celtics aren’t the first team the Heat has dominated in the second half of a playoff game. In fact, being able to adapt during the break and beat opponents in the second half may be one of the best ways to define the vaunted #HeatCulture, illustrate Erik Spoelstra’s brilliance as a coach, and explain how the Heat – no. 8 seed won by regular season opponents – continue to defy expectations.
In this postseason, the Heat outscored their opponents by 10.5 points per 100 possessions after halftime. Last year, when he led the Celtics to seven conference finals appearances, he outscored his rivals in the second half of the games by 7.3 points per 100 possessions. Two seasons ago, during their finalists in the bubble, that mark was 7.4.
After the first match, the Heat Center Bam Adebayo He was asked what changed in the first half.
“We have a great video set,” he said, “and they put all the stats in half.” “[They] He basically showed us where we were wrong and how we can improve in the second half.”
That list was long. The Heat surrendered 40 points in the paint. The Celtics had their district defense on fire. Celtics star Jason Tatum It was very convenient (18 points). The Heat didn’t care about the ball. Also – and most disturbingly – their energy was deficient.
But identifying problems is one thing. The real skill – which Spoelstra clearly possesses – is the ability to get it to a team within the 15-minute first-half window while working out a plan for how to fix it.
For The Heat, that means relying on the collaborative environment fostered by Spoelstra.
After watching [the film] Speaking to the coaches, Adebayo said Wednesday night, “We’re honest with each other, looking into each other’s eyes and saying how we feel and what we need to accomplish.”
What was disturbing about the dominant second half in Game 1 was the number of tweaks the Heat were able to make. It wasn’t that their players were just starting to fall. They’ve upped their energy level (they fumble four out of nine times in the third quarter), and stopped throwing the ball all over the field (only three turnovers in the second half, compared to 10 in the first). They kept the ball out of Tatum’s hands (he didn’t attempt a single shot in the fourth quarter) and they kept the Celtics off the paint (they only surrendered 22 points in that area). They took the Celtics out of their game by slowing their pace.
Just look how Tatum described what happened to his team during the third quarter.
“We gave up some transition baskets, tuned in, and were comfortable,” he said. “We didn’t deal with the shooters. We gave up some offensive rebounds.”
Of course, this is the Heat, their players had a more succinct way of summing up their performance in the second half.
“It’s just a mentality,” the Heat guard Gabe Vincent He said. “Sometimes you have to get punched in the mouth to get up a little.”
Yaron Weitzman is a FOX Sports NBA writer and author Rise to the Top: The Philadelphia ’76ers and the Most Daring Operation in Professional Sports History. Follow him on Twitter @employee.
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