While most of the problems in Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers were breakdowns on the defensive end, there were flaws on offense that hurt the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
“I don’t think we were moving the ball like we know how to,” said Josh Richardson, who scored only four points on 1 of 7 shooting. “I think they kind of flattened us out and we kind of played into that. It just starts there.”
The Heat’s inability to move the ball was one problem. The other was setting screens and scoring off dribble handoffs.
The Heat had only nine screen assists Saturday (Bam Adebayo 4, Wayne Ellington 2, Kelly Olynyk 2 and Richardson 1). Miami averaged 11.6 per game in the regular season, second most in the league (11.4 per game).
The Sixers, meanwhile, had 24 screen assists. Philly averaged 9.6 per game (11th in NBA) during the regular season.
The lack of good screens hampered the Heat’s primary ball handlers and rim attackers from getting to their hot spots.
“We were stagnant, nobody moved, the pick and roll was not even there, we didn’t set screens,” said All-Star point guard Goran Dragic, who was only 4 of 14 shooting from the field and 1 of 7 shooting inside the paint. “You know it’s tough to make something happen from there.”
Dwyane Wade said he spent several minutes during a timeout in Saturday’s game talking to rookie Bam Adeabyo about setting screens and trying to perfect them against the Sixers.
“If I played with Udonis, I don't have to tell him; he already knows. But I only played with Bam probably about 10 games since I've been here,” Wade said. “So it's just trying to teach him what to look for — the position of the defender. I told him not to look at me, don't worry about me. Just look at the position of the defender on the screen. So, things like that— just trying to teach him what to look for. He’s a quick study. Anything I've talked to him about he makes the adjustment immediately. So, guys like that you’re excited to tell him something.”
Adebayo finished with 199 screen assists this season, second on the team behind Olynyk (203).
What did Wade think of Adebayo's first playoff performance (6 points, 1 rebound, 1 block in 20 minutes)?
"I thought with the opportunity he had I thought he did OK," Wade said. "I definitely think he'll be better in the next one and the next one. I felt he did what we asked him to do and I think we all can help him a little better and each other. But Bam did OK. I was impressed by the way he focused on the game plan and what he needs to do. I think [Sunday] he learned something he can do better and how he can be more of a force on the defensive end of the floor. Hopefully that applies."
▪ Coach Erik Spoelstra said he has to figure out a way for Richardson going forward in the series.
“He's been a very important player for us. And it's not necessarily the play calls or box-score stats, but when you feel J-Rich's presence in a game, those are the games we're very difficult to beat,” Spoelstra said. “And we're going to try to get him a little bit more involved, but get him more active defensively where you feel his presence and feel his purpose and athleticism and his versatility, all those things, we've got to do a better job. I have to find a way to get him in spots to where he can feel aggressive.”
▪ Forward James Johnson scored 13 points in the first half on 5 of 7 shooting Saturday, but was scoreless the second half and took only two shots in 8:09 worth of work.
“They didn't do anything different to me that stopped me from getting to the rim,” Johnson said Sunday. “I think I just stopped myself.”
▪ What are some aspects Spoelstra would like to replicate from the Heat’s Game 1 performance?
“The second unit played well offensively and they were in a comfort zone,” he said. “They scored 60 points and it was pretty efficient, coherent to our strengths on offense for better or worse. Didn’t finish quarters well, but you could see that we were getting to our game effectively. Our starters have to do a better job with the details, the small things and execution because they’re facing a team that protects the paint very well. They have long-armed defenders and they’re very committed to getting that third defender in the paint. The ball has to move, the spacing has to be great. The open guy has to have the ball in his hands.”