Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals delivered the latest chapter in one of the national narratives about the Heat: The team’s inability, so far, to hit shots to tie or win playoff games on its final possession.
Udonis Haslem’s errant 17-foot jumper at the end of regulation — combined with Dwyane Wade’s missed three-pointer at the close of overtime — means the Heat is 0 for 7 during these playoffs on shots that would tie the score or put the Heat ahead in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. Wade is 0 for 3, LeBron James 0 for 2, Haslem 0 for 1 and Mario Chalmers 0 for 1.
According to ESPN, the Heat was 0 for 3 on such shots in the playoffs last year. But keep this in mind, too:
• James hit a clutch three to tie the score with 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter Sunday.
• According to ESPN, the 15 other playoff teams have made only 4 of 26 shots in that last-24-second scenario this postseason.
Though James Jones was in the game on the last play of the fourth quarter, ESPN’s Magic Johnson said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra erred by not using Mike Miller as well “so shooters would have gotten it instead of Haslem. Bad offense.”
ESPN’s Jon Barry said Spoelstra bears responsibility for “the inability of this team to get quality shots late in games. It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand what they ran. It’s mind-blogging to me to have two of the best players in the game and not get quality shots.”
On the play to end regulation, James did not attack quickly enough, allowing Kevin Garnett to double-team him. It was supposed to be “for LeBron on the run,” Spoelstra said. “The play broke down. Our spacing wasn’t terrific.”
James said Garnett “got a hand on my wrist when I tried to make the pass to U.D.” And Haslem said the “timing was bad.”
On the last play of overtime, Wade reportedly considered passing to Chalmers but did not have a good angle. Wade said his final shot “was on line. That’s all you can ask.”
The Heat managed just two points in overtime. “We had three shots go in and out,” Spoelstra said.
Reaction to Rondo
• Spoelstra dismissed Rajon Rondo’s halftime comment on ESPN that the Celtics were exploiting the Heat’s penchant for “crying and complaining to the referees in transition.”
Said Spoelstra: “I couldn’t care less what another player has to say about our team.” Spoelstra added: “We’ve managed that part of the game better than we have in the past.”
• Spoelstra said not using Miller in the second half of Game 4 was a “lineup decision” and unrelated to Miller’s back issues. Spoelstra opted instead for more of Norris Cole, “who gave us some good minutes,” and Jones. Spoelstra said Miller will play in Game 5.
The Heat had some success by trapping Rondo at times, but Spoelstra said “if we do that consistently, he’ll figure it out.”
• When James picked up his sixth foul with 1:51 left in overtime — while trying to post up Mickael Pietrus — it marked the first time he fouled out since April 2, 2008, and the first time ever in a playoff game. “If I’m going to foul out, I wish I would have earned it, and it would actually have been a foul on me,” he said. “I know how to play the game of basketball.”
• The Celtics, who were outscored 42-28 in the second half Sunday, became the second team to win a playoff game with as few as 28 second-half points since 1955, according to Elias. The other: the Spurs in 1993.
• ESPN’s 7.9 national rating for Game 4 was the highest for any NBA playoff game on cable, with records dating back to 2003. The game was viewed in 19.8 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets.