The Miami Heat Need to Stop Shooting Three-Pointers
Through the first four games of their best-of-seven series, the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets have each won their two home games.
It make sense that a series between two teams that finished with the same record in the regular season would be tied at two at this point.
However, the individual games tell a totally different story.
Miami's Up-And-Down Play
Miami has been the Jekyll and Hyde team of the first round.
At home, they have averaged 119 points per game and 1.37 points per possession. In their road games, the Heat have averaged 82.5 points per game.
While Miami scored 6.3 points per game more at home and shot a better percentage from three at American Airlines Arena during the regular season, it is unlikely the change of scenery alone could make such a difference.
And while Charlotte's coach Steve Clifford is a defensive mastermind, it is hard to believe adjustments could account for a 36.5-point difference.
Miami started the series shooting uncharacteristically well from three, hitting 9 of 18 shots in Game 1 and 9 of 16 shots in Game 2 -- 53% overall.
Although the Heat improved their three-point shooting towards the end of the season with the addition of Joe Johnson and the emergence of Josh Richardson, they only shot 33.6 percent as a team for the season. Miami was sticking to their season-long Three-Point Attempt Rate, taking 21 percent of their field goals from three in the first two games. They just went in at a much higher rate.
Suddenly, in Game 3, three-pointers accounted for 28 percent of Miami's shots, and they only shot 7 of 22 (32%) while scoring 0.87 points per possession. Miami lost that game 96-80, while posting an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 38.6.
In Game 4, Miami played even more out of character offensively, hoisting a season high 38 percent of their shots from three, while shooting 38 percent. The 29 attempts tied a season-high for threes.
Hassan Whiteside and Defense
Another key difference between the two games is the offensive involvement of Hassan Whiteside. The increase in three-point attempts has a clear impact on Whiteside's offensive production. After scoring 21 and 17 points in the first two games, Whiteside only contributed 13 and 8 in the two games in Charlotte.
Since the pace has not gotten out of control and Charlotte has hovered around 1.07 points per possession throughout all four games, Miami's consistent efforts defensively cannot be pinpointed as a problem.
For the vast majority of the season, Miami was not a three-point shooting team. They ranked third to last in the league in three-point attempts for the season, and when they attempted at least the league average of 24 threes in a game, the Heat went 2-7 during the regular season.
If head coach Erik Spoelstra can figure a way to get Miami back to playing their style of offense, they can easily outscore a Charlotte team that has Kemba Walker putting the team on his back.
If not, they will be exiting the playoffs sooner than they would like.
According to our algorithms, the Heat have a 54.9% chance to advance to the second round.