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Don't get it twisted, the Heat can shoot (in front of the 3-point line) and are just shooting more now

The Miami Heat had the best shooting night in franchise history Tuesday against the then-No. 1 field goal percentage defense in the NBA.

Yes, the Bulls are no longer the dominant defensive team they were under Tom Thibodeau and were short their two best defenders in Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah.

But Chicago, which fell from first in the league (43.2% opp. field goal percentage) to second behind the Spurs after the Heat lit them up for 129 points Tuesday, is still no pushover. And that only makes what the Heat accomplished even that more special.

Here's a look at where the Heat took and made its shots against the Bulls in its record 67.5 percent shooting night. 


Now, any team in the NBA can have one great shooting night.

For example, the only team to shoot better than the Heat in a game in the last 18 years were the 1998 Los Angeles Clippers, who shot 69.3 percent against the Toronto Raptors on March 13, 1998 in a 152-120 blowout.

You remember those loaded Clippers, don't you? That scary lineup of Darrick Martin, Lamond Murray, Rodney Rodgers, Isaac Austin and Eric Piatowski. They finished 17-65 and shot 43.8 percent for the season.

Well, this Heat team might be a little more talented than those Clippers. The impressive shooting performance Miami had Tuesday night wasn't an abberation. 

Even before the Heat went wild against the Bulls, Miami was already the 7th best shooting team in the league (46.0%).

Now, tied for 5th (46.3%) in the league after Tuesday, Heat fans really shouldn't be surprised why the team looks and feels like its playing a lot better.

All coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat have done is speed up the pace of the offense and take more shots. That's why the Heat is scoring more.

Sure, if you look at the stats, the Heat still rank 28th in the league in scoring (97.5 per game). But since the All-Star break, Miami is averaging 108.3 points per game (9th in the league) and 88.3 field goal per attempts game (9th in league).

Before the break, Miami was averaging an NBA-worst 79.5 shots per game and just 96 points per game (29th).

So, it's pretty simple: if you can already shoot and just starting shooting more you score more.

Playing fast isn't something Spoelstra wasn't already asking his team to do earlier in the season. It's just that now -- minus Chris Bosh -- his players are actually listening to him and doing it.

This isn't an indictment on Bosh. But his disappearance after the All-Star break forced Luol Deng to move to the power forward spot, forced Goran Dragic to make his teammates get out and run with him, and forced the team to accept an 'everyone gets involved in the offense' approach.

So, the Heat, essentially has figured out after the break that it has a pretty good collection of players who know how to finish around the basket and a few who can knock down a midrange jumper (even Hassan Whiteside). They also figured out that when a defense doesn't have time to get back and set itself up in the halfcourt that only helps an offense execute better.

So, Spoelstra, who spent the first half of the season yelling at Dragic and others to push the pace, finally has believers in what he's been preaching.

"The only thing I don't want to see us do is walk the ball up the court," Spoelstra responded when asked last night if the Heat can be this type of up-and-down paced team the rest of the season. "So whatever that leads to..."

"There were a couple times [Tuesday night] Goran walked it up and I said to him, screamed at him. 'No you be you. Make them run with you. Let's get this ball up court,' " Spoelstra said before delving deeper into his offensive philosophy.

"Even if it's in the halfcourt and we're getting into a set, I want to execute it with time on the clock," he continued. "We want to put constant pressure on the defense, be able to attack and do it while they’re -- hopefully more time than not -- on their heels. If we face someone when a defense gets totally set and they're waiting for us -- even with great spacing -- our execution would have to be at another level, which we're getting to. But I want to play with pace and make sure guys are getting to their spots and sharing the ball.”

Sounds simple enough doesn't it?

Even if the Heat don't have great three-point shooting (they are dead last at 31.9%), this approach of taking high percentage 2-point shots and being able to convert at a higher rate than many other teams in the league can be a successful formula if the Heat continue to play a high level of defense. 

After all, there's only one Steph Curry in the league and only so many Warriors and Spurs to go around.




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