The Miami Heat don't expect to get much scoring beyond the troika of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; the Heat need roleplayers like James Jones, Mike Bibby and Mike Miller to hit open shots, and need their big men to defend and pull opponents away from the rim. They certainly don't expect someone like Jones to drop 25 on the Boston Celtics in the NBA Playoffs. But that's just what Jones did on Sunday in Miami's 99-90 Game 1 victory.
The Heat made Boston pay for its attention to Miami's star by rotating the ball and hitting Jones before the Celtics' usually excellent defensive rotation was able to catch up. As a result, Jones hit 5-7 from the floor -- all on three-pointers -- to rack up the game's second-highest point total. Jones didn't break 20 during the regular season, and his previous playoff career high was 19.
Jones is one of the league's very best three-point shooters, and a solid defender; while Mike Miller was more heavily touted (and more expensive), Jones has filled the back-up wing role quite well, playing tough defense despite his lanky frame and hitting more than 40 percent of his threes in the regular season. Against Boston, making the defense pay for heavy commitment to the paint is key; the teams that beat the Celtics hit their threes. Miami is chock full of specialists, and finished No. 7 in the NBA in three-point percentage this season; Jones and Eddie House were the only regulars who took a good portion of the Heat's three-point attempts and hit well above league average.
It'll be interesting to see whether Boston adjusts by attaching fewer defenders to Wade and James; it's difficult to imagine that the Celtics will consider Wade, who scored 38 points in 37 minutes, a lesser threat, and James deserves multiple sets of eyes. Boston could pay special attention to Jones over Bosh, Joel Anthony and the point guard on the floor, and also hope he stops hitting almost everything he takes. But a new challenge most didn't expect to be considering on Monday morning.