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.