Miami Heat: Concerns growing over 3-point defense

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors post up during the game against Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors post up during the game against Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat allowed franchise records in 3-point attempts made in back-to-back games. This is a flaw which could prove fatal down the stretch as the Heat aim for the playoffs.

Defense wins championships, or so the saying goes. For the Miami Heat, a glaring defensive weakness has revealed itself which could make just getting into the playoffs too tall a task.

Over the last two games, the Heat have set records twice. They allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to hit a then-franchise record 19 3-pointers on Friday night, and they followed that up Sunday afternoon with a defensive effort that allowed the shorthanded Toronto Raptors to hit 21 3s, a new franchise record.

The Heat are a storied organization, but these aren’t the accolades you’d like to see them pile up in such short order.

The NBA is a shooter’s league, with every team having multiple players capable of going off for at least a handful of 3s in any game. With the volume of 3-point attempts skyrocketing every season, it stands to reason that from to time these marks will fall.

Given the volatility of 3-point attempts, especially when comparing versus different opponents, we may find that the Heat’s defense is less responsible for these concerning developments than sheer variance itself.

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Generally speaking, the best defense of a 3-pointer is a defense which prevents the shot from even being attempted in the first place, as a 3-point attempt generally tends to be a shot taken in rhythm by a skilled shooter with the space to actually get the shot off with accuracy. With this being the case, the best indicator of 3-point defense can be shown as simply allowing as few of those attempts  as possible (in most cases, at least).

The Heat give up the ninth-fewest above-the-break 3-point attempts at 24 per game, which is good, but they give up the third-most corner 3-pointers at 8.2 per game, which is very (VERY) very bad.

Other than a dunk, layup or free throw from a good free throw shooter, the corner 3 is the highest value shot in basketball. It’s likely that teams are simply bypassing early opportunities at above-the-break 3s (which have intrinsic value because 3 is more than 2, but they are often longer, better guarded shots) and working harder to set up corner 3s, knowing that the Heat defense will give them up.

The Miami Heat’s rotation has been in flux through much of the season, and even more so in the last seven games or so. Considering the shifting of roles throughout the roster, it stands to reason that defensive cohesion may suffer.

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With only 16 games left to play this season, though, the Heat need to find a solution to offenses picking them apart from behind the arc.