Miami Heat v Orlando Magic

Heat’s love affair with the long two-pointer strangling offense


Miami got back in the win column Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. But the numbers from the winning box score are still jarring.

The Heat took 31 shots from 16 feet out to the three-point line — those are long two pointers, the least efficient shot in the game — and another 16 shots from beyond it. That’s 47 long jumpers.

They got 9 shots at the rim.

How is that possible with the incredible driving abilities of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, with the inside game of Chris Bosh? But the game against the Sixers was not some one-off phenomenon, as Surya Fernandez pointed out at Hot Hot Hoops recently.

The only two games where the Heat attempted more field goals closer to the basket than 16-23 feet away was the first two games. Since then, every game has featured more field goal attempts from that distance than any other area of the court. Most games the ratio of long jumpers compared to short or midrange jumpers is not even close.

Part of the issue is pace — The Heat are averaging 93.1 possessions per game, 23rd in the league. Only seven teams are playing slower. This is with Wade and James —two of the most devastating open court finishers in the game, and two ball handlers on the break — on the team. The Heat should be creating turnovers with their defense (they are very average at this) and running. Not running at a Don Nelson pace, but the Heat should be getting points in transition and on secondary breaks off turnovers and misses.

They are not, they are coming down court and setting up a very stagnant, isolation-heavy half court offense.

As has been pointed out here before, James is at his best in the half court when moving off the ball, catching the ball as a cutter and getting into the middle faster than the defense can adjust. Sure, isolate him on the wing on a clear out and he’ll do well, because he has the talent to do anything well. But have him catch the ball on a Rip Hamilton curl route at the elbow and the opposing defense will be close to helpless. We see precious little of that in Miami.

There is not a lot new here — everyone seems to have been screaming this for weeks. Including Erik Spoelstra. But sometimes the numbers jump out at you, as they did after Friday night’s win, to say that they cured the symptom (losing) and not the underlying cause.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”