Can Crowder Thrive With The Most Difficult Task Possible?


On Feb. 5, 2020, the Miami Heat shipped off Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters to Memphis and James Johnson to Minnesota. In return, they acquired three-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, as well as Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill.

When the trade occurred, it was thought that Iguodala was the main piece in the deal. While Iggy has played well, it is clear that Crowder has been the most valuable of the three guys brought in.

A 3-Point Threat

Through 15 playoff games, Crowder is averaging 12.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.1 APG and 0.8 SPG. The seven-year pro is the Heat’s starting power forward, plays about 31.4 minutes a night and has started all 15 postseason games. He’s averaging 8.1 three-point attempts per playoff game and is making 2.8, a 34 percent clip.

Crowder has made 42 three pointers in 15 games during the playoffs. That is tied for the third most all-time in a Heat playoff run, despite playing fewer games.

  1. Antoine Walker had 48 three pointers in 23 games.
  2. Duncan Robinson has 44 three pointers in 15 games.
  3. Jae Crowder has 42 three pointers in 15 games.
  4. Shane Battier had 42 three pointers in 23 games.
  5. Tim Hardaway had 42 three pointers in 17 games.

Defensive Leader

Crowder has been an unexpected surprise for the Heat while being a vital part of their playoff run. He was the primary defender on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second round series vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. He helped hold the reigning MVP to 20.1 PPG, a drastic drop from his season average of 29.5 PPG. Crowder guarded Antetokounmpo for 18 minutes of game time and held him to 25 points on 9/22 shooting and forced three turnovers.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, Crowder had the task of guarding Celtics guard Jaylen Brown. Crowder guarded Brown for 20 minutes of game time, allowing 20 points. He also guarded All-Star Jayson Tatum, whom he limited to 10/29 shooting from the field.

Crowder has clearly gained the trust of Coach Erik Spoelstra in such a short amount of time. It is evident that Coach Spo has confidence in  the 30-year-old on defense and wants him to alternate guarding the opposing team’s most dominant player with Jimmy Butler.

The Most Difficult Task Possible

With a championship on the line, Crowder will most likely be tasked with guarding one of the best players in the NBA, LeBron James. This will be a task like no other for Crowder, as LeBron is averaging 26.7 PPG in the playoffs. In a limited matchup during the 2020 regular season, Crowder guarded LeBron for 11 minutes of game time, allowing 15 points on 7/14 shooting but forced four turnovers. If Crowder can hold James to under his average, that will be the x-factor for the Heat.

This isn’t the first time that he has been tasked with this responsibility. In the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, as a member of the Celtics, Crowder was the one who guarded LeBron. The King got the best of him then, but it will be interesting to see how Crowder does on the biggest stage possible. Being a former teammate of LeBron could serve as some extra motivation for Crowder, as well.

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About Blake Malick

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