The Indiana Pacers were the toughest team in the league to take three-point shots against this season.
That cannot be news to Ray Allen and the rest of Miami’s long-range shooters.
On Monday night, however, Allen was able to find a little space in the first half as he hit 3 of 4 three-pointers in the second quarter to help the Heat build a double-digit lead it wouldn’t squander en route to a 99-76 Game 7 win against the Pacers to close out the Eastern Conference finals.
Statistically, Miami didn’t fare much better against the Pacers from long range than it had in previous games in the conference finals.
It only felt that way.
The Heat hit 6 of 16 three-point shots in Game 7 after connecting on just 38 percent of them (43 of 113) in the first six games of the series.
Indiana held its opponents to 33 percent shooting from three-point range during the regular season — best in the league.
“When we play at the pace with the spacing that we need,” coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game, “everyone becomes a beneficiary of that ball movement. Really, the determining factor is getting good, clean looks. If they are getting good, clean looks, well, it’s just a matter of time.”
For Allen, that time came in the second quarter as he got things rolling with a 25-foot shot 1:44 in.
Miami and the Pacers were tied at 23 at the time of Allen’s first three-pointer. Indiana was never that close again as Miami held onto that lead for the remainder of the night.
The Heat hit 4 of 8 three-point shots in the second quarter — not bad considering Miami was 1 of 5 in the first 12 minutes as the Pacers held a two-point lead going into the second.
Allen wasn’t the only Miami sharpshooter who was slowed by the Pacers in the series — although his slump was perhaps the most pronounced based on his résumé.
Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and taken, was just 7 of 24 from three-point range in the opening six games of the series. In Miami’s Game 4 loss in Indiana, Allen hit 2 of 7 from outside the arc.
At least Allen got a chance to shoot his way out of his slump on Monday.
Spoelstra went with Mike Miller as he kept Shane Battier on the bench because he struggled with his matchups against the Pacers.
When asked whether Miller was going to factor into his plans before the game, Spoelstra didn’t flinch.
“We’ll see,” Spoelstra said before playing Miller almost 17 minutes. “Everything is on the table.”
Battier had played fewer than 20 minutes in a postseason game just twice before the Indiana series started. Now, Battier isn’t playing at all.
After playing 31 minutes in Miami’s Game 1 win over the Pacers, Battier’s minutes have gone down substantially. In the past two games, Battier has spent most of his time watching from the sidelines.
In Game 6, Battier played just 4:26; in Game 7, he didn’t leave the bench despite Miami holding a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter.
Battier was 2 for 15 (13 percent) from three-point range in the first six games of the series against the Pacers after hitting on a pedestrian 26 percent combined (12 of 46) against the Bulls and Bucks.
Miller, on the other hand, has filled in well as a reserve and had success from long distance against the Pacers when he took his shot.
On Saturday, Miller helped Miami’s brief comeback in the fourth by hitting back-to-back three-pointers to cut Indiana’s lead to six points.