Dwyane Wade, LeBron James in Search of Perfect Symmetry
The team collectively has had success from beyond the arc despite the loss of injured sharpshooter Mike Miller, but the Heat haven't necessarily won when their best players have launched them when they should be taking advantage of their strengths inside.
Wade is averaging 3.2 attempts beyond the arc and has attempted five or more in four games already this season with the Heat losing all but one of those games, a win over the Orlando Magic. James is also averaging three attempts from 3-point land and the Heat have lost both games in which he has attempted more than five 3-pointers. Bottom line, regardless of how many actually go in, too many 3-point attempts from their two best players doesn't seem to be a successful strategy.
Was this sudden aversion to the 3-point line something coach Erik Spoelstra had brought up, or simply just a conscious decision to get better shots?
"I think we're both attackers," James explained to FanHouse with Wade sitting next to him on the podium after the win over the Raptors. "Anytime we get a ratio of 25 free-throw attempts between the two of us and two threes, that means we are in attack mode. That helps out our team tremendously. We have enough 3-point shooters on our team that can spread the floor.
"So it's games where me and D-Wade, we both look at the stat sheet and say, 'We took too many threes and didn't get to the free throw line.' But tonight wasn't one of those instances. We got to the free-throw line and were aggressive. When we are aggressive then it trickles down to the other guys."
The Heat strung together points when they attacked the soft interior Raptors defense early on and late in the game instead of taking long jumpers with little off-the-ball movement like they did during some stretches of the game.
Having two of the best attackers in the world on the same team has at times looked redundant when they're just taking turns attacking while the other looks on. Getting high screens on the top of the key has proven effective, and both penetrating constantly has forced defenses to contract, in turn freeing up shooters like James Jones (currently shooting .500 from both inside and outside the arc this season) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (with a team-leading 62.7 percent overall from the field and 58 percent of shots made coming from 16-to-23 feet away) to get wide open. When Wade and James choose to head to the rim, they have either had a path to the basket or have gone to the free throw-line and put their opponents in foul trouble.
"I think that was a real beneficial fourth quarter for us and for them," said Spoelstra about the final push by his two superstars to put away the pesky Raptors. "What they need more than anything right now is time. Their IQs are so high they'll be able to figure it out. They're both unselfish and they're able to read each other more and more each time they play together. Both of them were aggressive threats tonight but also willing decoys when they needed to be."