For the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, The Miami heat they dealt with Boston Celtics defense. A major part of Boston’s struggles was their inability to hold back straight-line Miami urges, especially when they came out of quick pick-and-roll action.
Fortunately, Joe Mazzulla implemented a fix that helped limit Miami’s effectiveness in attacking in the middle of cover, while limiting Bam Adebayo’s effectiveness around the elbows. This adjustment involved positioning a defender around the nail (center of the free-throw line) during half-court action.
First of all, this nail defender was a big man playing drop, but there were times when Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum took on the role, using their length and athleticism for closure, stunts or lightning when needed.
You can see the schedule in the video below.
True, keeping the player so far from the perimeter while Miami was throwing fire from the depths was a bold strategy. However, like Boston, the Heat like to generate a perimeter attack by kicking or passing the ball, so by limiting the feasibility of both actions, the Heat’s perimeter attack was stuck and suffered as a result.
Let’s hope the Celtics are able to make a similar impact with their nail defense in Game 5. If the Celtics can continue to disrupt Miami’s main offense while also delivering their own high-level offense, there should be no reason why they can’t roll things back to how they were 3-2 before heading to the Kaseya Center in hopes of leveling the series.