Miami Heat shooters complain that they are too open

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O.J. Mayo wishes he had this problem. Actually, 99 percent of the league wishes they had this problem.

With defenses focused on keeping LeBron James from destroying them in the post and Dwyane Wade slashing through them into the lane, the kick-out, spread-the-floor shooters on the Heat get good looks at three. Too good of looks. They are so open (and not used to that) it is throwing off their timing, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Take this from new Heat shooter Rashard Lewis.

“Got to get used to it,” the veteran forward said as the Miami Heat continued training camp, “because that’s the hardest shot in basketball. I may have to hold it for a couple of seconds, so I can get somebody closing out to me.”

Shane Battier explained the problem best — it’s a rhythm thing.

“When you’re playing a game, you’re so used to playing instinctively,” Heat forward Shane Battier said, as he snapped his fingers to mimic the typical split-second timing of NBA decisions. “When you get a wide-, wide-open three, you’re naked. You have time to think and rationalize, and that’s counterintuitive to how we normally play. We normally play instinctively — time to think and time to react only. But when you have time to think in basketball, calculation often leads to miscalculation.”

I don’t want to speak for Erik Spoelstra here, but my guess is he’d say: “Stop whining. It’s going to be like this all season.”

He may not use those exact words, but I think that’s how we all feel. It’s like listening to the people who talk about how winning the lottery made their life hard. I don’t want to hear it. Deal with it.

And if you’re open, knock down the shot.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.