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In overtime, though, despite scoring 1.55 points per possession, a small limitation of the line up cropped up, mostly due to shot selection. The Blazers had Camby on Bosh and Aldridge on Jones, both HEAT players drawing their men far outside the paint, and with bigs on the outside, Portland’s rotation slowed, making it easier for Miami to earn open looks just from perimeter ball movement.
But, other than a pair of free throws, every single one of Miami’s shots was a jumper after the Blazers had a break to slow down and adjust. Most fell, and the HEAT won, but taking perimeter shots with the middle of the floor wide open can defeat the purpose of the small lineup, and enlarge the defensive risks a team takes in using it. Basically, why have James guarding a center if the HEAT aren’t going to fully utilize the spacing they’ve manufactured?
Against a skill five, or one that can throw his size around, things get tougher, because going small does nothing to change that Miami depends on getting stops in order to activate its transition offense.
But the broader point is that playing James at center is not intended to work every game or become the starting lineup. It’s intended to be a weapon, one that can maximize the assets the HEAT already have by pulling opposing big men out of the lane, giving James, Wade and Bosh free range to work as they please in the middle of the floor.