Miami Heat 3-point shooting: the good, the bad and the ugly

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 13: Kelly Olynyk
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 13: Kelly Olynyk /
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MIAMI, FL – OCTOBER 21: Wayne Ellington
MIAMI, FL – OCTOBER 21: Wayne Ellington /

The Good: The Offense is Working

One of the main points of emphasis for a head coach Erik Spoelstra offense, is stashing shooters at various weak points of the defensive rotations to increase the opportunities for an open 3. Thus far, the Heat are executing well and getting those shots up. They’re currently sitting at sixth in the league in attempts per game (33).

That number is important because one of the catalysts to the Heat’s incredible turnaround last year was their increased volume from deep, with their average per game reaching 29 during that run. 33 in the first three games suggests an increased commitment to producing more 3’s this year.

The Heat are again leaning on core offensive principles to get an efficient 3, which in their system is the open corner. Here on opening night against the Orlando Magic, the man on the island is Aaron Gordon, who must decide whether to help on Hassan Whiteside rolling to the basket, or stay at home on Olynyk positioned in the corner.

Gordon isn’t given much of a choice as both Terrence Ross and Nic Vucevic both fail to apply enough pressure to Dion Waiters, leaving Olynyk in the corner wide open for the 3.

This is a bread and butter look for the Heat, especially with the option to simply throw a lob to Whiteside presenting itself as well. A couple of nights later against the Indiana Pacers, we see a similar look.

There’s a slight variation on this set as Richardson positions himself on the wing to pull another defender, this time the Pacers’ best defender in Victor Oladipo, out of the play.

Olynyk sets a solid screen and rolls to the basket completely untouched, as Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson don’t communicate a switch, Oladipo opted to pass the responsibility of guarding Olynyk on to the backline defender (Cory Joseph) who again was put in an impossible situation.

While Tyler Johnson missed the shot, the open look goes down as a positive for the Heat. The use of Richardson as a decoy in this set is interesting, considering he was on his way to a 10-point first quarter by this point and Oladipo had to stick by him at all costs. Thus, neutralizing the Pacers’ best defender.

The way defenses react when the Heat are hitting their 3’s consistently showed up in the game against the Atlanta Hawks, where they cashed in 13 in the first half alone. Late in the second quarter, the Heat were able to get a pair of point-blank layups off of a Dragic/Winslow pick and roll, due to the Hawks’ inability to leave shooters.

Dragic and Winslow are isolated on one side of the floor, with Olynyk, Tyler Johnson and Ellington (who made six 3’s of his own) on the other. Ellington, in the corner, is guarded by Taurean Prince, who cannot justify leaving him open yet again for another wide open three at this point. With two of the Heat’s best playmakers teaming up for a pick and roll, Atlanta’s Mike Muscala is in a difficult situation leading to the Winslow layup.

As the season continues, the Heat have to continue to pressure defenses with their outside shooting. On top of simply scoring more points, better shooting means more offensive spacing and more opportunities inside for Whiteside, Dragic and Waiters. So far, so good in this department.