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Hot Hot Plays: HORNS Staggers an effective play for Heat, Wade

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In the "Hot Hot Plays" series, we'll be going over some sets or actions that the Heat run over the course of the season. This look got Dwyane Wade a bucket at the basket in a win over Orlando last week. Let's take a look at Horns Staggers.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the first installment of "Hot Hot Plays," where I'll be going over some of the Miami Heat's sets and actions and how they are or aren't effective. 

In the first quarter of a win against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 26, the Miami Heat ran a set with two big men at the top of the key and the corners filled with wings. 

It is a very common formation in the NBA called "HORNS." The Heat are pressed for perimeter shooting, so putting their players in a position to succeed is key. A lot of typical HORNS plays are effective when one of the two top side players can lift up for a potential pop and the other can roll down to the rim as he traditionally would in a pick-and-roll. However, sometimes teams add secondary actions to free a particular player. 

In this case, Dwyane Wade receives a staggered screen (two separate screens that are set to get one player open) in order to get him free for an elbow handoff. The rest took care of itself. 

Let's look at "HORNS Stagger."

The play begins as described. At this point, Miami is in a late first quarter lineup that has Amar'e Stoudemire and Justise Winslow in the contest as the first substitutions. Winslow split the post from the left wing and dropped to the right corner to set if off. 


Goran Dragic initiates the action with a pass to Stoudemire, who lifts higher than the elbow to get the pass. 



Dragic than scurries to set a down screen for Wade, and Luol Deng moves over to set another one to give Wade a bevy of space to go get a handoff from Stoudemire, who takes a dribble forward to speed up the action. Channing Frye, who was defending Deng, went over the screen to cut off the play. Wade could have cut under the Deng screen to the basket, occupied Payton, and Dragic could have gotten an open corner 3-pointer from Stoudemire as well. Not sure if that read is something the Heat like, but Wade goes for the handoff nonetheless and either way it shakes the Magic up. 

At this point, Wade has reads to make before he decides to end the possession. 



The Magic defense got completely overloaded on the strong side, and even Winslow's defender snuck over dangerously. Magic center Nikola Vucevic switched off of Stoudemire and onto Wade, forcing Frye to pick up Stoudemire on the roll. Orlando took away Wade's potential to find Stoudemire on the roll, and had him corralled pretty well, but it left huge gaps on the weak side.  



Wade makes the tough layup.      


If Wade retreated when Vucevic switched, he could have gotten some nice weak side ball reversal action to Deng and Dragic as the Magic rotated back, or he could have tried to probe or jump-skip a pass over, but at the end of the day, you want Wade going to the rim tough. This is what Miami created. 


Miami is having a tough time consistency generating efficient offense, and Wade, along with Dragic, are not having their best seasons. Finding ways to get Wade the ball off of handoffs and weak side movement is something Miami could use more of. They are going to play at a slow tempo regardless, and these types of sets encourage less dribbling and more efficient shots.        

Wade is shooting 64 percent on 115 layup attempts this season, according to the NBA's statistical database. But he's taking almost three times as many jump shots and shooting 37 percent on them. That's not all on him, as perhaps he and the Heat staff can put more of an emphasis on creating opportunities like these.

A great offense needs to have good continuity, and that comes with habits and time together, along with comfort with whatever system is being run. Not every play can be a set. But plays like these are a welcome action to any Heat game and worthy of being a "Hot Hot Play."

I'll keep an eye out on sets that I like, but feel free to tweet me some actions you like that you want to see broken down!

Oh, and Happy New Year. 

Jay Ramos is a performance enhancement and basketball skills trainer/coach with Next Level Basketball.