Heat Players Are Worrying They’re Too Wide Open

Shooting is tough enough with a hand in your face. But wait just a second, Miami’s players are saying: try shooting with no one near you. The LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh trio is so good at bunching defenders together in one place that it’s leaving Heat shooters in a predicament few would consider a drawback. They’re simply too wide open. “You’re naked,” Shane Battier told the Sun-Sentinel today.

Of course the money quotes come from Battier. The NBA’s “brain” has studied this phenomenon extensively in his one season in Miami and will deliver his dissertation in front of his doctorate panel next week upon the Heat’s return from China.

“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.”

Joking aside about Battier’s analyst tendencies, the story is actually a pretty interesting and candid look into their minds. Call it, “Shooters On Shooting.” The NBA’s most prolific three-point shooter, Ray Allen explains the process he goes through for his jumper and how even a small wait can alter his shooting rhythm.

“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.”

What Allen says about the ball’s delivery is something everyone can relate to. You wait, knees bent, hands about at stomach height, for the perfect kick-out or skip pass. When it doesn’t hit your shooting pocket, the feet have to compensate to get back underneath the shooter. That can happen with any shooter, though, regardless if someone is barreling down on a close out. The most difficult part, they say, is having the extra beat — when a defender is recovering from a James or Wade drive, say — to think about your mechanics instead of using muscle memory alone. Even new addition Josh Harrellson is finding this out.

“It becomes,” Harrellson said, “a thought process. ‘Oh, I’m this wide open, should I take a dribble for a layup? Should I take one dribble in for a jump shot?’ There’s a lot of thought that goes into it.

“If you’re that wide open, you really don’t know what you want to do. A lot of people might think, ‘Why don’t you shoot a layup, you were wide open?’ So there’s a lot of different thoughts that go through your head at that time.”

It should be noted this problem is diametrically opposed to those of Kobe Bryant‘s Laker teammates, who have only a split second before knowing they’re about to be slammed on.


Is this even a problem?

Follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGreif.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.