LeBron James' final numbers in the Miami Heat's 114-96 Game 3 victory over the Indiana Pacers were not all that impressive. The MVP finished with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, while only grabbing four rebounds and handing out three assists.
What was impressive was James making a key adjustment that helped the Heat offense run better than it did in each of the first two games of this series: he took advantage of his size in the post against Paul George.
James made a concerted effort to operate down low on the block against George, doing some of his best work at the outset of the second quarter when Miami first opened up a double-digit lead. Indiana did not double James in fear of giving up too many open looks from three-point range, so he went straight at George and was able to set up some easy baskets.
The Heat scored a postseason franchise record 70 points in the first half. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said James' work in the post was a big key to that.
"It was something we wanted to get to," Spoelstra said. "To help settle us and get us into a more aggressive attack. We wanted to be a little more aggressive, a little more committed to getting into the paint. LeBron was very committed and focused to not settle."
Seven of James' eight made field goals came in the paint, with three of those makes coming in the second quarter. And according to ESPN Stats & Info, James went 5-of-7 when posting up George. The Heat dominated the battle down low all game long, scoring 52 points in the paint compared to just 36 for Indiana. James echoed Spoelstra's thoughts about the importance of working in the post.
"I made a conscious effort to sit in the post, to put more pressure on the defense," James said. "Coach Spoelstra wanted me to do that and my teammates allowed me to do that."
Considering how much success James had in the post, expect to see much more of that as the series goes on. Pacers center Roy Hibbert said that he and his teammates must adjust in order to slow the Heat offense down going forward.
"He (James) was in the post putting in a lot of work," Hibbert said. "We have to do a better job at helping Paul (George) out. LeBron can't get five, six dribbles to get a post move. They really spread us out, so I wasn't able to get down there as much as possible. We have to make adjustments."
Quotes via NBA.com.