"It's not all of these great ideas or things that we have to change, or that "this plan is terribly wrong". Sometimes the other team just makes shots, okay. So that's really what's going on."
Those are significant words from coach Steve Clifford's long response to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh following Game 2 of the Charlotte-Miami series. In his monologue Clifford preached process over results and discouraged the notion of there necessarily being something to change before the next game just because of the points given up.
The Hornets countered Hassan Whiteside's freedom and success on rim runs by making him see weak-side defenders much more early.
Hornets wings were ready to be in front off Whiteside with their whole body, especially off questionable long range shooters in Dwyane Wade and Justise Winslow.
Bigs weren't blitzing or coming up to the level of the screen on as many pick-and-rolls either. Guards mostly went under the screen when Goran Dragic or Dwyane Wade were the ball handlers.
When blitzing it, they seemed a bit more locked in on diligently fighting over the screen.
It was a sound game plan, on par with the expectations expressed after Game 1.
Moreover, the process itself mostly worked. Miami's number of attempts at the rim dropped from 29 to 14, per NBA.com shot charts. Meanwhile, Heat also took eight more looks in the desired area between the 3-point line and the restricted area, making a couple of laughable shots while they were at it.
Those are numbers on which Clifford can hang his hat on. Because there isn't much for him to do when the following happens:
Rightful help off Justise Winslow turns into points
Nicolas Batum does the right thing by using this opportunity to jump in Luol Deng's path.
There's no reason not to exploit bad shooters in the postseason by making them hurt their team's offense.
It just so happens that Winslow unexpectedly turned such situations into made mid-range jumpers.
You can especially chart the last one under the "other team just makes shots" category.
Miami's rookie made only 14 out of 48 pull-up jumpers during the regular season, per SportVU data. That's exactly the shot with which the Hornets want Miami ending their possession.
Too bad they went down...
Goran Dragic making threes when defenders go under screen
The Slovenian point guard effectively used blitzes to his team's advantage in Game 1. However, Dragic only made 31.2 percent of his 3-pointers during the regular season. The 29-year-old was only 29.0 percent on 3-pointers off the dribble, to boot.
It's not a bad idea to dial the coverage back on such a guy and go under some pick-and-roll screens.
The Hornets were forced to switch up the way they guard Dragic from that third 3-pointer on.
Josh Richardson burning the Hornets a bit too much
The rookie Richardson probably benefited the most from Charlotte's weak-side defenders entering the paint early to make Whiteside see a crowd in front of him.
During a vital third quarter run he helped Miami build an 18-point advantage with three made jumpers within three minutes.
Coach Clifford knows that you're bound to give up such looks when having your weak-side defender help so much (Kemba Walker probably went overboard on the first attempt and could have left the obligation of helping to Marvin Williams).
It's too bad that the first-year guard stepped up and continued his hot shooting by capitalizing on all three opportunities in a row.
The Heat continued to make contested looks
According to SportVU data, the Heat made 34 out of 56 contested field goal attempts (60.7 percent) in Game 1 of the series.
There are good news in this regard. That percentage went down.
The bad news, however, are that the percentage still remained at a very high level. This time around Miami were good for 55.6 percent (25-of-45) on contested field goal attempts.
Whether it's skill or bad luck, the Heat have kept on making tough shots.
What can you do though? Sometimes the other team just makes shots.