NBA Finals 2013: Maximizing LeBron James in the Heat's offense

Kevin C. Cox

How can the Heat get LeBron James better looks in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals? Here are some ways.

With the Miami Heat facing elimination in Game 6, they will need to rely on their leader, LeBron James, to lead the team if they want to reach Game 7 and win another NBA title. Specifically, the Heat need James to control their offense with quality possessions.

James shot 36 percent in Game 5, made only five of his 14 shots around the rim and just one out of his four mid-range jumpers. It's important for James to take advantage of the space that the Spurs are giving him, but when the Heat's offense consists of him dribbling and shooting a contested shot, it's a wasted possession. He, and Miami, need to do better.

Here, James takes the ball upcourt and stops on the perimeter. He dribbles for about four seconds, then takes a shot without the ball ever leaving his hands. This is a terrible offensive possession for Miami:

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The Heat need to trust their ball-movement to break the Spurs' defensive rotations down. Here, the Heat run multiple actions in a single offensive set and eventually find James with the mismatch of Tim Duncan on the perimeter. James takes Duncan off the dribble and scores:


It's still a James dribble drive, but it works because it's at the end of a possession, not the beginning.

The Heat also need to solve the issue of Boris Diaw, who has been effective for the Spurs by using his size to push James out of the post. Miami is trying to put James in the low post, but the Spurs have taken that away by putting a larger defender on him.

Here, James is already pushed out to several feet outside the paint:

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By the time James catches the ball, he finds himself on the 3-point line. Diaw has found success at challenging James on the perimeter because of his size and reach:

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James is struggling with Diaw's size in the post and isn't able to get deep position on him when he tries to establish himself. James is much more effective when he's cutting to the rim from the perimeter rather than fighting for position while stationary.

Here, James takes advantage of the space Danny Green has given him on the perimeter to dive into the post:

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James is better at using his speed and size advantages on the move rather than waiting for the ball in the post and fighting for position.

Using James as the roll man in the pick-and-roll is another way Miami can get him possessions in the paint against mismatches. Hot Hot Hoops had an excellent breakdown of how the Heat ran the James-Mario Chalmers pick-and-roll to this effect earlier in the series.

Here, Chalmers draws the Spurs' defense as the ball-handler after taking a screen from James. The Spurs contain Chalmers, but this will force Gary Neal to switch onto James:

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Miami should run pick-and-rolls for James not only to get him into the paint, but also get him away from Diaw:

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James for a fadeaway jumper here, but a simple fix can solve for that problem:

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Poor spacing by Miami allowed the Spurs to have three players in the paint to defend James. When using James in the pick-and-roll, the Heat should have their other four players on the perimeter to give James more room.

This is the value of Chris Bosh; he can space the floor when he is the lone big man on the floor for Miami. If Bosh lines up in the corner, the Heat can more easily move the ball to spread the Spurs' defense thin if they pack the paint. This creates potential open looks for the Heat's perimeter shooters:

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Miami should look to run the James-Chalmers pick-and-roll while spacing the floor to find cracks in the Spurs' team defense.

***

The Heat host the final two games of the series at home and will have to execute at a high-level for the next 96 minutes in order to become back-to-back champions. The Heat's execution must begin with James, the Most Valuable Player and the ace up Miami's sleeve to win two straight against the Spurs.

More from SB Nation:

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Doc Rivers trade to Clippers is dead, says Danny Ainge

Flannery: Finally, The Manu Game | How the Spurs won

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