Miami Heat and the Art Of the Spot-Up

Mar 13, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) shoots a jump shot under pressure from Philadelphia 76ers center Lavoy Allen (50) during the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Heat defeated the Sixers 98-94. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have been an offensive powerhouse this season. They rank among the NBA leaders in a great amount of offensive categories, and they are the best in the league when it comes to spot-up shooting.

According to mySynergySports, the Heat shoot 43.2% when they take spot-up shots, which they do in almost 25% of all their possessions. The shooting percentage might not seem that high, but over half of their spot-up attempts are three-point shots, which they hit at an impressive 41% rate. This has the Heat scoring 1.06 points per possession in spot-up situations.

While Miami has a lot of offensive weapons, the spot-up jumpshot has clearly become one of the team’s primary weapons. It might seem risky to have the majority of your offense come from outside shots, but this has not been the case when it comes to the Heat. Miami consistently get excellent looks from outside, and do so in a variety of ways. Here are a couple examples.



This first clip shows a great halfcourt set the Heat ran against the Chicago Bulls, featuring some off-ball movement.

Norris Cole brings the ball up the floor and gives it up to Shane Battier at the top of the key. While Battier holds onto the ball, Cole runs over to Ray Allen, who is positioned in the strong side corner, and sets an off-ball screen.

Allen cuts to the basket along the baseline, only to retreat to the three-point line and space the floor. Meanwhile, Cole takes Allen’s previous position and receives the ball from Battier.

This is where Cole makes the play happen. He decides against using Battier’s screen and gets past his defender with a quick first step. In order to deny an easy layup, Taj Gibson leaves Battier and helps out on Cole, who calmly dribbles the ball out of the paint and finds Battier for an open spot-up three.

Marquis Teague should have switched onto Battier, but instead made the poor decision to continue chasing Cole, rendering himself practically useless. While this was an example of poor individual defense on Teague’s part, it’s just one of many instances of Miami’s excellent off-ball screens and movement, designed to confuse the opposition.


Next up, we have an example of how a great spot-up opportunity is created off penetration. Dwyane Wade gets the ball in the left corner, uses an excellent screen set by Chris Bosh, and drives to the basket. In this particular example, Derrick Williams decides to cut off the baseline drive, which leaves the middle of the floor exposed.

As soon as Wade is past his man, an alarm goes off in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ defense — you can’t allow Wade to get to the basket. Both Mickael Gelabale and Ricky Rubio notice this and leave their men in an attempt to salvage the play.

When Wade jumps, he has forced Minnesota’s defense to collapse, as four Wolves players in the paint. While airbourne, Wade has two passing options — both LeBron James and Mario Chalmers are open around the perimeter. He ultimately makes the correct decision, hitting Chalmers, a 41.6% three-point shooter, for an open shot in the corner.

Both Wade and James regularly create this type of shots for their teammates, and it is just another example of how the Heat get good looks.


This is another example of great movement off the ball, as well as crisp ball movement. After Chalmers hands off the ball to James, he makes a baseline cut to the weak side. Chalmers’ man comes over to double-team LeBron, who throws a bullet pass to Bosh.

At this point, Bosh already has a decent look at the basket, but decides against putting up the shot and instead gives the ball to Wade. As Chalmers receives the ball, the left side of the floor has all of a sudden become very crowded. Bosh notices this and moves over to the right corner.

After an attempt at a pick and roll with Udonis Haslem, Chalmers initiates some wonderful ball movement along the perimeter and Miami ends up with a decent mid-range look for Bosh. Ideally, Chris would like to be a step closer to the basket, but it is still a nice look.


In this play, the Heat create yet another great spot-up opportunity. Bosh comes up to the three-point line, sets a pick and quickly slips, retreating to the right corner. Meanwhile, James receives the ball in the corner and gets double-teamed, as Haslem quickly slips to the basket.

At this point James has several options, as displayed in the picture below:

Jason Maxiell and Jose Calderon are left in no man’s land. They are both within distance of closing out on Bosh, Chalmers and Haslem, but all it takes to beat the Pistons’ defense from here is to quickly swing the ball to the open man. Instead of passing it to Haslem, James throws a pass to Chalmers, who quickly taps it to Bosh, a 50.8% mid-range shooter, for an open spot-up jumper.

The Heat have all the tools to mix it up and utilize their shooters. Thanks to great sets, ball movement and slashers, Miami are constantly able to create high-quality looks in spot-up situations. As a result, the NBA champions rank second in three-point percentage, shooting 38.8% from beyond the arc this season.

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Tags: Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade Lebron James Mario Chalmers Miami Heat Norris Cole Shane Battier

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