Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Everyone knows that Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is the single most important star the team has to have on the floor. But it might surprise you who the second most important player the team needs on the floor to be successful.
Using the NBA’s +/- system, which looks at the point differential when players are both in and out of the game, the Heat are a +8.9 when Lebron is on the court in the 2012 postseason. That means the Heat score on average nearly 9 points more per game with James on the floor.
The first hunch would be that fellow Big Three member Dwyane Wade would be the second most important player, but the hunch would be wrong. In the 2012 playoffs, Shane Battier is a +6.4 per game for the Heat when he’s on the floor, which just edged out Wade who is +6.3 in the playoffs.
The next most important player for the Heat during the 2012 playoffs is Mario Chalmers who carries a rating of +5.7 in the 2012 playoffs. Chris Bosh would be number two at +7.7, but he’s only played in six of the Heat’s 15 playoff games.
So which lineup the Heat rolls out is the best? According to NBA.com’s stats, during the playoffs it’s been Battier, James, Wade, Chalmers, and Udonis Haslem. That lineup is +6 when it’s on the floor at the same time. The next best lineup for the Heat subs out Joel Anthony for Udonis Haslem.
Miami’s opponents in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics, don’t have their best five lineup available after Avery Bradley was lost for the rest of the playoffs. Before that, a lineup including Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were +5.5.
As for the best three-man combination, the Heat’s best group includes Chalmers, Wade, and James while the Celtics’ best group includes Rondo, Pierce, and Garnett.