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Ball Don't Lie

Miami Heat shooters complain they are too open

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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Ray Allen waits on the perimeter for minutes on end (Ron Elkman/ Getty).

NBA athletes are so fast that basic basketball ideas like a good or open shot mean something very different to them than to anyone at any other level. What that means, in practice, is that a player might feel lucky to have a very small window to line up his shot before the defender closes out. Eventually, that timing becomes second nature to a shooter, an aspect of their rhythm and preparation like any other.

Any change to that routine becomes problematic. When shooters come to the Miami Heat, they must face the difficulty of changing things up. Except, instead of getting less time, or having to shoot from different spots, they must deal with something that intuitively should help them: getting more time to shoot. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel explains (via PBT):

"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." [...]

"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." [...]

For his part, Ray Allen, the NBA's all-time leader in 3-point conversions, has long gotten over such concerns.

"A shot is a shot, really, for me," the Heat's prime offseason acquisition said. "It's not really just the wide-open shot. It's just really how the ball's delivered to you." Allen, in fact, said the toughest part of being left open might be the waiting game. "I think if you're waiting on the 3-point line, that's probably the toughest shot," he said. "You're waiting, you're waiting, you're waiting, and then you have to kind of reposition your feet. That to me is probably the toughest shot, because there's not really a rhythm shot.

"When you catch in a rhythm, you're learning forward. So if you don't get it, you got to make sure you kind of get your momentum going back into that shot."

Other players had thoughts on why it's tougher, too, including Josh "Jorts" Harrelson remarking that he has a tendency to overthink his options when he has more time to shoot. Every bit of reasoning, though, goes back to the idea that more time disrupts a shooter's typical rhythm. Even the legendary Allen, who first says it doesn't matter, ends up arguing that having too much time to shoot can complicate things.

[Also: LeBron James might be adding the skyhook to his offensive repertoire]

Of course, while this might be an issue now, it's ultimately a really good problem to have. If the new Heatles currently have a hard time with getting more time to shoot, chances are they'll eventually adjust their expectations and get more used to it. In the long run, getting more time to shoot is obviously a good thing, and one of the perks of playing with stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all on the floor at the same time.

While it's important not to exaggerate the amount of time the Heat get to shoot — it's not as if Ray Allen will be waiting on the perimeter for two seconds before someone closes out — this is yet another area where the Heat have an advantage on other teams. Two seasons ago, one of their biggest issues was figuring out how to play LeBron and Wade together in the best possible configuration. In the end, even their problems aren't really problems.

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