Improved HEAT shooting from downtown key to this series and beyond

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

While the Brooklyn Nets set a record with their long-range shooting prowess, the Miami Heat have struggled with up-and-down play from their shooters this season.

Saturday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets rang in a wake up call, not just for the season but also Miami's 3-pointing shooting future.

All along we've tried to downplay the loss of Mike Miller, the man with the ability to shoot a game changing 3-pointer. Instead the Heat have relied this season on a somewhat lackluster rotation of Shane Battier, Norris Cole and James Jones. After last night's beating by a Brooklyn team whose shooting was spread through half of their roster, questions have surfaced on Miami's ability to score from downtown. Or to be more direct, has our recent slump of 3-point offense a sense of things to come?

Sure Ray Allen is old, however he can't be the only guy the Heat lean on for outside shooting and its been his former opponent Paul Pierce who has had the upper hand throughout the series. While the Heat obviously never replaced Miller as Battier closes in on retirement, there's still enough life in this team to help banish the "we need Miller" tirades.

Yesterday it was LeBron James who called for James Jones to be included in the rotation again. Jones while used throughout the first round series against the Charlotte Bobcats wasn't included in the first two games at home against the Nets, but it was until the second half of Saturday's game where we were reminded the man can shoot.

"We have to find some minutes for him," James said at Sunday's practice. "I don't see why he shouldn't play."

"It's the space that he provides and his ability to shoot the ball," James said of Jones. "You can't do both when he's out on the floor. You can't help on my drives, and try to contest the threes on him ... It's huge for our team when he's in the lineup. It's big time."

And on Saturday while it perhaps may have looked like the Heat weren't taking enough threes, despite playing three games less in this year's playoffs than Brooklyn, Miami are still shooting 40.9 percent from downtown, that's 5.8 percent better than the Nets. Predictably the Heat finally dropped a game in the playoffs. Coming into the game 6-0, it looked like the seventh win was on the way along with a possible sweep after LeBron James scored 16 points in the first quarter alone. That wasn't to be the case and instead we began the slippery slope, with the Nets claiming their 104-90 victory and putting a hold on their season ending.

There is a positive in sight: history has shown since the 2012 NBA Finals, Miami have followed up all eight of their playoff losses with a win. One way to perhaps accomplish this is figuring out how to defend Mirza Teletovic, currently sitting at 14/24 on 3-pointers in this series. Teletovic had Miami scrambling on Saturday because he has the unique ability to shoot from anywhere and if Miami don't figure out how to contain him tonight, they could very much well be coming back to Miami with the series tied up at 2-2.

Miami aren't the team they once were, we can't deny that, however they are still on top despite playing more basketball than their opponents over an almost four year period

Looking ahead to next season, if the Heat do look to sign a three-shooter, there are some available options up for grabs. Jimmer Fredette, CJ Miles, Jodie Meeks, Brandon Rush will all be available and should be affordable. Paul Pierce is also free but let's just assume that's a no-go zone.

Now on the assumption James, Wade and Bosh both stay in Miami they're won't be too many options but one of these veterans could make an impact. Having a flier like Fredette would be great for Miami's roster. At 25 he can contribute vastly if given the opportunity, he would be a handy spot shooter off the bench in limited minutes. Miles can be a shooter with playmaking capabilities, Rush is finally getting over that knee injury but it could make him a very valuable and cost-effective option, which the Heat could use with their contract situation. Meeks has been overused with the Lakers as anything but a shooter, but quieting what's asked of him and simplifying it to mostly being a shooter with the Heat would be great.

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