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

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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.

When Lance Stephenson gets a traveling call, he earns it (VIDEO)

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Yes, guys get away with traveling in the NBA. James Harden on the step back (sometimes, not always), or guys sliding left/right to avoid a closeout at the arc and not bothering to dribble while they do it.

Lance Stephenson got called for traveling Sunday in the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers. In a game where Stephenson got under the skin of LeBron James and drew a technical (and tied him up for a jump ball at one point), this was the best Lance highlight of the game. Because if you’re going to travel, you should go all in.

Never change Lance. Never change.

Matthew Dellavedova steals pass, hits wild scoop shot at buzzer (VIDEO)

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Matthew Dellavedova is a hustler. Everybody knows that. Well, unless you want to argue he’s more about grit. It’s really your call.

But against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dellavedova came through with whatever you want to call it — hustle, grit, moxie, gumption.

As the first quarter wound down and the Celtics tried to inbound the ball, Dellavedova spied his opponents rolling the basketball in order to save time on the clock.

That allowed the Australian native to fly in and do this:

That’s a steal, a scoop, and a score all within 1.2 seconds.

Milwaukee won Game 4 and evened the series with the Celtics, 2-2.

Cavaliers tie series with Pacers in Indiana, 2-2

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Sunday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was raucous. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking, and despite Indiana’s best effort to put back seemingly every offensive board it encountered, LeBron James‘ 32 points was just too much to overcome.

Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers pulled out the win, 104-100, and sent the series back to Ohio for Game 5.

The game came down to the final period following a surge by the Pacers to end the third quarter. The teams were tied several times midway through the fourth, but a tip shot by Thaddeus Young wth 6:13 left gave the Pacers the lead as fans in Indiana went wild.

Cleveland then came roaring back. At the three-minute mark, James drove to the basket and scored. Thirty seconds later, Kyle Korver hit a big-time 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by four points, a mark the Pacers couldn’t recover from.

LeBron scored again with 1:52 left, and despite some weird late-game antics — featuring none other than Lance Stephenson — the Cavaliers were able to remain resolute down the stretch.

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep, and Kevin Love had five points with 11 boards.

Victor Oladipo struggled for Indiana, scoring 17 points but shooting just 25 percent from the floor. Seven Pacers finished in double-digits, with Young notching an impressive double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Game 5 will be played in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 25.

Wizards beat Raptors in Game 4, tie series at 2-2 heading to Toronto

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The Toronto Raptors were far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. The Washington Wizards were … well, very Wizard-y.

So considering their regular seasons, the fact that Washington was able to tie the first round series between the two teams at 2 games apiece on Sunday is pretty astonishing.

Bradley Beal had 31 points and five rebounds for the Wizards while teammate John Wall added 27 points to go along with a whopping 14 assists. Washington shot an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range as four of five starters finished in double-digit scoring.

Despite Beal’s performance, it was Wall who saved the day for the Wizards. Beal was disqualified after fouling out with around five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Beal didn’t agree with the call, and could be seen throwing a towel near the Washington bench.

For his part, Wall either scored or assisted on 10 of the Wizards’ final 14 points of the game. That helped stave off the likes of DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 35 points.

The series heads back to Toronto for Game 5, which will be played on Wednesday, April 25.