Heat have become raisers of the lost arc against Celtics in NBA East finals

Tribune Content Agency

The goal this season and in these playoffs has never been a 3-for-all. It’s simply a factor of the composition of the Miami Heat roster.

But for an offense so reliant on the long ball, the misses tend to be magnified, as they are now in the Eastern Conference finals.

“Our game is deeper than us just making threes or not,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “I know that’s probably what everybody’s looking to right now. And that’s fair.”

After going the entire season and two-plus rounds of the playoffs without shooting below 30% on 3-pointers in consecutive games, the Heat now have done so in the past three against the Boston Celtics, going 1-2 in that span.

“They’re very good at defending the 3-point line,” Spoelstra said. “They’ve taken us off of some of our normal rhythm threes. We’ve also missed some open ones. We just need to work more persistently to get the type of shots we want, in our wheelhouse, which we’re very capable of, even against a very good defense like Boston.”

The downturn started at .273 (12 of 44) in the 117-106 loss that drew Boston within 2-1 in this best-of-seven series. It continued at .270 (10 of 37) in the 112-109 victory that pushed the Heat to a 3-1 series lead. Then, Friday night, it went off the rails, at .194 (7 of 36) in the 121-108 loss that cut the advantage down to 3-2 going into Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. Game 6 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

“Our guys are extremely ignitable. It can happen just like that,” Spoelstra said, snapping his fingers. “But we have to do a lot more things defensively, where we’re not just hoping that we make a bunch of threes and a bunch of shots.”

As it is, the past two games mark just the second time this season the Heat have gone consecutive games without converting more than 10 3-pointers.

To appreciate how dramatic the shift has been, consider that with their next 3-point conversion, the Heat will break the franchise single-postseason record of 186, set when they went to the 2014 NBA Finals.

Among the most dramatic struggles has been that of forward Jae Crowder, who is just 6 of 33 from beyond the arc over the last four games, including 0 for 6 on Friday night. As a matter of perspective, consider that with 41 3-pointers this postseason, Crowder is one shy of Tim Hardaway (1997) and Shane Battier (2012) for the second-highest total in a single postseason in franchise history, and just seven from the record of 48 set in 2006 by Antoine Walker in the Heat’s roll to the franchise’s first championship.

“It not necessarily about calling plays for him to shoot threes,” Spoelstra said of getting Crowder back on track. “But I love it when he shoots 10 to 12 of ’em. That means our offense is functioning properly.”

The Heat nonetheless have now scored 100 or more points in a franchise-record 10 consecutive playoff games. Still, 3-pointers accounted for a franchise-record 35.9% of the team’s regular-season offense, showing the need and value.

“They’ve done a good job of defending the 3-point line, as they’ve all year long,” Spoelstra said of the Celtics. “They have really good habits there.”


At one point during the Celtics’ Game 5 surge, veteran forward Udonis Haslem took over the Heat huddle during a timeout, which Spoelstra embraced.

“I can’t even imagine being in a locker room or in a game without UD,” Spoelstra said of the 17th-year Heat veteran. “It was hard enough adjusting this year, not having Dwyane (Wade) in here. But I’m so used to UD and his leadership and his voice.

“It does matter. He does move the needle, from where he is. It didn’t last night, but it just brings this head coach great comfort when he’s leading the huddle.”


Celtics coach Brad Stevens on Saturday brushed aside the notion of momentum, with his team still one game from elimination.

“Every game is hard,” he said. “Every time you play a playoff game, it’s its own entity. It’s not as much about momentum as it is making sure you do what you do best as much as you can and create a momentum in that game and create a play that is suited for your team in that game. Every game is unique. Every game is different. Every game is hard to prepare for. It’s hard to win an NBA game.

“I just think just generally this team has good resolve.”


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