Heat Smart Coaching and Experience Won Game 6

Eric Spoelstra (Spo) was masterful in his game plan for Game 6 in orchestrating 97-90 road win. The Heat simply wanted the game more, came up with big shots and hustled more and Clifford did not adjust well to Spo’s tactic.


So how exactly did Spo and the Heat do it?

1.Stop Hornets balanced attack with Lin/Kemba penetration and teamball
  • Spo realized the Hornets guard penetration was the reason behind Game 3-5 Hornets wins. Lin/Kemba were responsible for 59 FT attempts in the 1st 5 games, of which 61% (36 out of 59) resulted in 3 straight Hornets wins.
  • Spo failed to stop Lin in Game 5 with double-team because Lin found a way to pass to open teammates to finish with 11pts/7asts/6rebs. He got smarter by throwing different looks with Dieng as a big defender, trapping on the 3pt line and the absence of Hawes impacted Lin’s efficiency (Hawes-Lin lineup was ranked #2 in producing 6.5 Net Points). Hawes also appeared in 6 out of Top 10 2-man lineup so the Hornets missed his presence due to his injury.
  • As a result, Lin was hesitant to attack the rim and impacted his offensive efficiency with 1-8 shooting although he managed to contribute with a perfect 6-6 FT shooting
  • Only Kemba and Al Jefferson can contribute offensively with ISO-heavy offense with 22-44 shooting but it was not enough as other Hornets struggled. Marvin had 0-7 shooting, Frank and Lee had a combined 3-7 shooting but did not shoot enough.
  • Heat game plan was to stop Jeremy Lin and Hornets teamball to force the Hornets to play ISO-heavy offense. Kenny “The Jet” Smith (TNT Analyst) said Lin was the key to the team offense in Game 5. Kemba and Lin would need to play exceptionally well if they hope to win Game 7
  • Kemba almost single-handedly win the game with his electrifying performance with 37pts/5asts but Dwayne Wade stepped up the game to hit 2 huge 3pt shots

2. Masterful Wade/Dieng/Johnson performance
  • Wade/Dieng/Johnson shot exceptionally well with a combined 22-41 (54%) to finish with 55pts. Dragic started slow but he heated in the 2nd half to finish with 14pts/7rebs/2a
  • Credit should be given to the veterans and championship heart of Dwayne Wade.Dwayne Wade hit 2-2 on threes after missing 16 threes in 2016. They simply played better and executed well to stave off the elimination game.
3. Lack of trust by Hornets coaches in Lin
  • Despite struggling offensively, Lin earned praise for his defense on Dwayne Wade from Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN Analyst) in the 2nd half who was at 1 point 0-6. But with 5 fouls and after committing 2 offensive fouls, Clifford benched Lin with 6:47 left in the 4th quarter. He felt more comfortable to play Lee who usually played good defense but was not a factor offensively last night. Perhaps he hoped Lee’s offensive rebounding would help.
  • Several times in the season, Cliff inserted Lin with 14 seconds-2 min left for his ability to draw fouls and FTs to ice the game. It’s unknown if Lin would make a difference last night but as noted by JVG, Kemba needed Lin’s help since only both of them presented threat to the Heat off their dribble-drives
Game 7 Strategy and the Hornets Best Lineup
  • Both Kemba and Lin would need to play exceptionally well. Lin would also need to solve the Heat’s defense in order to penetrate and help team offense.
  • Lin is not as great as Kemba in ISO offense but he’s equally important to run PnR offense to involve his teammates. Will Clifford run some plays to give Lin a hot start in the 1st quarter? Only time will tell
  • The best 5-man lineup for the Hornets are Lin/Kemba/Lee/Zeller/Kaminsky with +11 but it is unknown why Cliff has not used a lot of them. Perhaps Cliff does not like this small lineup or he does not want to start Jeremy Lin as he is not part of the Hornets future starters

But Game 7 is a do or die situation. How would Clifford counter the Heat’s plan to stop Lin and rest of Hornets if they were content to let Kemba and Big Al thrive?

Would Jeremy Lin dig deep and find a way to beat the Heat the same way he powered the Hornets in Game 3-5?

Without JLin, there is no Game 5 or 6. He already gave the Hornets a historic playoff win in Game 3 after losing 12 consecutive playoff games. Plus a road playoff win since 2002.

But knowing JLin, he will not go down without a fight to give the best for his teammates.

In less than 20 hours, we will find out how JLin and the Hornets will adjust to the Heat game plan.

We can only hope and pray that they would be given the wisdom and strength to pull the difficult-but-not-impossible Game 7 win. Say a prayer for #7 to help the Hornets to win Game #7

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