FanPost

Erik Spoelstra did to Ime Udoka what the Bucks did to the Celtics in Game 1

It's easy to chalk this game up to various versions of inconsistency. It is much easier to blame yourself than to actually admit that the other team beat you. But, honestly, that is what happened. The Heat beat us and I think the biggest difference was the experience of the coaches. I can hardly blame Ime, I mean, this is his first season as a head coach at all and is faced up against the most decorated coach this side of the United States. I don't think Ime was prepared for just how good Erik Spoelstra can be.

Nash and Budenholzer have their good qualities, but they have a very rigid gameplan. Once you figure out the system, it's over for them. Ime figured then both out and to start the game, he figured out how the Heat like to play naturally. What he wasn't prepared for was the adaptation to his plan. The game started with the Celtics seemingly getting wherever they wanted. They scored a ton in the paint and utilized their size advantage to overwhelm the Heat defense. Then, in the mid-late second quarter, but in earnest in the 3rd, the Heat defense began to change. They were less interested in stopping the ball outright, but rather funneled players and the ball into traffic where other Heat defenders would dig and the end of that tunnel was DPOY candidate Bam Adebayo. Unlike most teams who pack the paint as a reaction, the Heat anticipated their man getting "beat" and started to hedge in before it even happened. They know that the Celtics love their paint touches, so Spo made sure that the second the ball hit the paint, the Heat defense would have hands in on the ball. Udoka's drive and kick basketball went from beautiful basketball to a risky move against the activity of the Heat. That led to a bunch of turnovers, which ultimately sunk the Celtics. So now, Ime is going to have to contend with a new level of counterplay within a single game. I think it is solvable, though.

The Heat, because of their lack of size, have to play a very committal kind of defense. Jeff Van Gundy made an excellent point that Tatum adjusted in the 4th by passing early before he got into traffic, but after the defense began to collapse, which cut his turnovers back down. This gave other players chances to work against Miami's slightly scrambling defense. However, Tatum has to do more once the ball is out of his hands from there. He needs to move on the perimeter to stop the defense from hedging in on the paint again, which will allow a quality paint touch. He has to trust his teammates that if he is the right guy for the play, he will get the ball back if he just keeps on moving.

Ime has to make those kinds of adjustments about a half-quarter quicker. In the Nets' series, he didn't have to adjust at all. In the Bucks series, he really only had to adjust from game to game, especially on offense. Here, against the Heat, he is going to have to turn up the speed yet again if he wants to win this chess match against one of the league's best coaches. I think he is up for the challenge.

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