- Tom Haberstroh
Halfway through the first quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, LeBron James called for the ball.
He had Paul Pierce sealed near the right block on an island. Chris Bosh fed James the ball from the 3-point arc where Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier also stood on the perimeter. With four defenders on the perimeter, help wasn't coming. James took two dribbles to his right, rose up from the paint and splashed a right hook over the top of Pierce.
This may not have happened three years ago. James was blasted then for not having a reliable post game, but now it's a veritable strength. A couple of possessions later against the Brooklyn Nets, James dribbled the ball up the left side of the floor and noticed he had the smaller Marcus Thornton on him. So he turned his back on the left block, posted him up, turned left and dribbled by him to the rim. Easy bucket.
This is pretty much how it went in Game 1. The Heat outscored the Nets 52-28 in the paint, but they didn't get there through highlight-reel transition buckets. Interestingly enough in this series against the veteran Nets squad, the Heat are showing off their "old-man game" in the post.
Tom Haberstroh writes that the Miami Heat have quietly shed their offensive image and now increasingly go to the low post. In fact, both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade rank as two of the most effective post-up weapons in the league.