Many Miami Heat fans will feel optimistic that a wacky lineup with LeBron James playing center got them back into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals before they finally succumbed. They shouldn’t.
Sure, the lineup performed well, bringing the Heat back from a 24-point fourth-quarter deficit, but the most meaningful part of that run came in a two-minute, 19-second stretch where Kevin Garnett was on the bench. Once Garnett was inserted back into the game, the tide was stemmed.
Essentially, here’s how things broke down.
-From 12:00 to 8:51, the Heat cut a 24-point lead to 19. Garnett went out at this point.
-From 8:51 to 6:14, the Heat cut a 19-point lead to 11. Garnett then came back into the game.
-From 6:14 to 1:39, the Heat cut a 11-point lead to 10. Garnett was in the whole time.
If you’re keeping score, over half of the points the Heat made up were in a 2:37 stretch where Garnett was out of the game. If the Heat try this small lineup again, you can bet Doc Rivers will immediately put Garnett back in to stem the tide.