LeBron James is one of the best penetrators in the league. It helps that he's also one of the best passers. In Game 2 on Tuesday, James came off a high pick-and-roll from Chris Bosh in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter and as the Pacers' defense collapsed on him, James dished out an assist to Dwyane Wade for an easy backdoor dunk.
How could Indiana's staunch defense let such an easy miscue derail their chances at the end of the game? Let's take a look at the play.
The importance of being Ray Allen
The play is a basic set with Chris Bosh on the right block and Allen on the left arc. Norris Cole is beside Bosh in the left corner, guarded by C.J. Watson. It's a simple high pick-and-roll with Bosh and James on the right side of the floor.
Normally in this situation, Allen's defender would provide help defense from the "nail" or the middle of the free throw line. Since Allen is a Hall of Famer and deadly three-point shooter, George Hill doesn't leave him to slide over to the middle of the floor and help on the play.
Indiana's baseline weak side help
This forces Watson into helping from the weak side baseline, pulling the entire Indiana defense out of whack on the play. Meanwhile, David West has jumped the pick on James as he drives to the right side of the floor.
Lance Stephenson helps, Paul George gives up
On the jumped pick, Paul George gets so far out as he trails the play that he's barely even in frame (green arrow). It's clear he misplayed James and only managed to bat at his dribble before giving up on the play.
As a result of George being beaten, Watson has sucked all the way up to the middle of the key (yellow arrow). Without George giving backside pressure to James, Stephenson has to come out to meet him since West is the only player guarding both James and Bosh.
The play effectively turns into a four-on-five situation, and results in an easy backdoor cut for Dwyane Wade.
While this play went south as soon as LeBron got by George (possibly because of the concussion George received halfway through the fourth quarter) this is the kind of thing Miami can do late in games because they have one of the most deadly shooters in NBA history at their disposal. The Heat draw up a lot of lopsided plays like this, expecting the defense to anchor a defender on Allen as James, Bosh and Wade all cut and penetrate to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.