Keeping Wade away from the rim


Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info, here's a look at how Wade's production dipped in Game 3:

How did the Boston Celtics slow Dwyane Wade in Game 3? It looks like a simple recipe of challenging him to take low-percentage outside jumpers, coupled with good help defense to prevent him getting close to the basket, was enough to limit him to 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting (only 14 of those points coming over the first three quarters).

Despite regular-season shooting struggles against Boston, Wade erupted for 38 points on 14-of-21 shooting in Game 1. He was a pest in Game 2 as well, but more so because he got to the free throw line for 13 attempts (Boston as a team shot a mere 22 freebies that night).

In Game 3, the Celtics not only did a good job defending him in halfcourt sets, but only sent him to the line seven times, forcing him to make shots for his points. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the defensive effort started with Ray Allen, who after giving up 28 points to Wade on 10-of-20 shooting to start the series, held him to 1-of-5 shooting with six points in Game 3.

"I just thought in Miami we got different action, we didn’t settle as much," Wade said of Miami's offense in Game 3. "Obviously, we’ve got to look at the film and see what we can do better. I think they made us settle a little bit too much. I think they made us not give up the ball as much and hold it a little too much. In Miami we weren't doing that. We were moving it, getting to the second and third options, which is the only way we can beat this team.”

Let's look a little closer:

Help on Wade #1

Wade did nearly all of his damage at the rim, converting six of seven attempts near the basket. From beyond 3 feet, he was 2 of 12, misfiring on four of five trifectas. Wade's lone miss near the rim came in the first quarter (screenshot above) when Jermaine O'Neal stepped up to thwart him in transition.

Help on Wade #2

Wade settled for some poor looks from the perimeter, especially as the ball-handler in the pick and roll. Boston seemed OK with giving him space if he was willing to settle for those shots. The strategy worked with Wade connecting on a mere 2-of-7 shots beyond 16 feet. When Wade did drive, Kevin Garnett often stepped up with the help defense and, by avoiding fouls, the Celtics limited Wade's ability to hurt them going to the basket.

Help on Wade #3

One thing Boston has to be careful of moving forward is recovering after the help. The Heat did a good job generating numerous second-chance efforts off Wade misses because Garnett had left a big man to help.