In the days leading up to the Eastern Conference finals, Heat big man Chris Andersen worked constantly on spacing the floor inside the paint to provide an extra option for driving teammates.
On Wednesday in Game 1, Andersen’s extra work paid off.
The Heat scored 60 points in the paint in its 103-102 overtime victory against the Indiana Pacers, and Andersen set a career-postseason high with 16 points. In addition to the personal milestone, Andersen also set a Heat postseason record for most field goals without a miss. Andersen went 7 of 7 from the field, breaking Alonzo Mourning’s record of six field goals without a miss.
“To be mentioned with Alonzo Mourning, it’s an honor, but at the same time my main focus is the Indiana Pacers and trying to get to that championship,” Andersen said.
Andersen was signed midseason mainly for his defense and tireless work ethic, but his ability to catch the ball in traffic has been a significant aspect of the Heat’s overall offensive game.
Andersen is 29 of 35 from the field this postseason, with the majority of his points coming on drive-and-pass situations near the rim.
“It’s been engrained in my head from the coaches the last two weeks to stay on the baseline and keep the paint open for whenever our drivers get into the lane, and they’re able to make the decision to dump it off, score or kick it out [for] the three-pointers,” Andersen said. “I just try to find the right space and the right position to be in to be able to get those easy baskets.”
As for his efficient numbers, Andersen said he wasn’t even aware of his offensive statistics until a reporter pointed them out Thursday.
“Is that what I’m shooting? OK then,” Andersen said. “I don’t even think about that. I just basically take what the defense is giving me.”
LeBron James was named to the All-NBA first team for the seventh time in his career Thursday. James was a unanimous selection to the first team, receiving 119 votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Clippers guard Chris Paul, Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Spurs center Tim Duncan rounded out the team. This is Bryant’s 11th selection to the first team, which ties the all-time record held by Karl Malone.
Dwyane Wade was selected to the third team. Wade has been named to an All-NBA team eight times in his career. He has two career first-team selections, three second-team selections and three third-team selections.
NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks was named to the All-NBA second team along with guards Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker, center Marc Gasol and forward Blake Griffin. Along with Wade, Houston’s James Harden, Lakers center Dwight Howard and forwards Paul George of Indiana and David Lee of Golden State made the third team.
This and that
Game 1 marked just the third time since the beginning of the season that James received two fouls in the first quarter of a game. James said the two fouls forced him “to take the foot off the pedal a little bit. But I was able to finish the game with five fouls and ultimately come up big for us.”
• Pacers coach Frank Vogel said he would never second-guess himself about a coaching decision but conceded Thursday “you always evaluate your decisions and what you would do next time.”
Vogel removed center Roy Hibbert from the game on two critical defensive possessions late in overtime, both of which ended with layups by James.
“It was a sound plan,” Vogel said. “When you have five three-point shooters on the court, to have a switching plan out there with five guys that are great ball containers, and ask your team to try and force a jump shot, that’s a sound plan.”
• Pacers forward Paul George, on not having Hibbert in the game: “It was different. I’m used to being aggressive. That’s the reason why I was aggressive. I’m used to having Roy back there. But, again, me being in that situation, I’ve got to know who’s on the floor with me and know what we want from LeBron.”