The Heat are one of the best teams at adapting to their opponent. While many teams thrive and put their stamp on making opponents mold to their type of game, the Heat are happy to move their pieces around to beat their opponent at their own game.
It's why Shane Battier was moved into the starting lineup against the Brooklyn Nets after playing only 2 minutes in the entire first round. It's also why in the rotation, Rashard Lewis is playing over Udonis Haslem. The Heat have enough players that fit different molds, that when another team dictates a play style, the Heat beat them at their own game. So don't be surprised when Udonis Haslem returns to the starting lineup in the Eastern Conference Finals against a bigger opponent.
What you may have noticed in Game 2 was the inefficiency of Dwyane Wade for the first three quarters. It had most of us calling for Ray Allen to get more time because it seemed as though Wade just didn't have it. Wade came around in the fourth, but what became clear was that Ray Allen is very effective against the Brooklyn Nets.
In both games, the Nets have been able to dictate the pace for most of the games, slowing it down, making less possessions. They have limited the Heat in transition and turned them into a half court team. And Miami is most effective in the half court when Ray Allen is moving around.
Kevin Garnett said, "We've got to slow down Ray Allen." Brooklyn is starting to see that Allen is having a huge impact on the game. It was Allen's 13 points and 8 rebounds in Game 2 that helped push the Heat ahead in the closing minutes against the Nets. In a half court setting, Allen is such a dangerous player.
When Allen is hitting his shot, you have to respect his shot and stay close. In fact, you should always respect his shot. But what happens when you stay close is Allen has been given the freedom to go on the dribble. He's getting to the hole, and he's taking screens and giving the ball to the right people. Allen not only spaces the floor for Wade and LeBron James to have room to work, he spaces the floor for himself, always thinking one step ahead.
Sure, Allen sometimes dribbles too much and gets himself in trouble. But you can't deny the fact that Allen has been near the center of the game plan for the Heat in their success in Games 1 and 2. Ray Allen is the antidote to the Nets slow-ball style for the Heat, and it's been clear that they are more effective when he is in the game. Allen as a +14 in Game 2, only behind Mario Chalmers. And he was a +10 in Game 1.
Allen also started the three rebound possession for the Heat late in Game 2 by beating Paul Pierce to the rebound.
Keep your eye on Ray Allen for Games 3 and 4 as he will surely be more of a focus for Brooklyn, but still crucial for the Heat, especially if Wade isn't going to score 20+ points.