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NBA Miami Heat

Defending the 3-Point Line is Key For Miami Heat to Beat New York Knicks

James Anthony

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have been coasting through the regular season and have not showed the effort defensively that everyone is used to seeing from them. Part of the issue is that Dwyane Wade has been in and out of the lineup and he is their best perimeter defender. When Wade is not playing, he is replaced in the starting lineup by Ray Allen and more minutes go to Roger Mason Jr. and Michael Beasley. None of those guys are close to the defender Wade is and they seem a step slow on their rotations.

With Miami never knowing when Wade will play, it is difficult to make the proper adjustments to the defense for them to be successful. The Heat like to trap the ball handler on pick and rolls which leaves them susceptible to outside shots. Usually it forces the defender on the far side of the court to slide down and cover the guy that rolls which leaves someone open for three.

Against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, the Thunder went 16-for-27 from the three-point line. Derek Fisher went 5-for-5 and Jeremy Lamb went 4-for-6. Neither of those guys are really threats at doing anything other than shooting threes, so the fact that they were open shows the lack of execution for Miami. Oklahoma City ranks 16th in the league in three-point percentage and 17th in makes per game. Both of those stats puts them in the middle of the league and below what the New York Knicks do on average.

The Knicks, who play the Heat on Saturday, rank seventh in the league in makes per game and 13th in percentage from the three-point line. In their last five games, the Knicks are averaging over 112 points per game and have made and average of over 12 three-pointers. Miami now ranks 20th in three-point percentage against and has given up the fourth most amount of three-point attempts. Kevin Durant was able to score at will and set up his teammates during the game Wednesday and Carmelo Anthony has the ability to do the same.

If Miami wants to win this game, they need to worry less about Anthony scoring and worry more about stopping his sidekicks. Players like Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr. are all threats from behind the arc and containing them is the key to the Heat getting out with a win.