Tonight's match-up between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers pits the top two players in the NBA with the most 3-point baskets off the bench: Kyle Korver (51) and Wayne Ellington (48). Ellington beats Korver in 3P% by the thinest of margins, 44.4% to 44.3%.
As a group the players off the Heat's bench leads the NBA in percentage, 40.7%, and made threes, 111. The Brooklyn Nets, 105, and Cavaliers, 93, trail Miami in second and third places. The Heat's bench is also up there in free throw percentage at 80.3%, behind only the Utah Jazz, 84.0%, and Minnesota Timberwolves, 82.8%.
The foursome of Kelly Olynyk, 45.7%, Ellington, 44.4%, James Johnson, 42.4%, and Tyler Johnson, 32.1%, made a combined 108 baskets out of their 265 attempts. Off the bench, they're a superior group of marksmen, when you factor in their efficiency at the free throw line.
Tyler Johnson, 94.6%, trails only Jamal Crawford, 94.9%, in free throw percentage, for all NBA players off the bench with 30 or more FTA. Ellington isn't far behind at 93.8%. Olynyk, 75.8%, and James Johnson, 71.1%, round out the figures for Heat players with most minutes off the bench.
The Heat starters rank a paltry 26th out of the 30 NBA teams in 3-point accuracy at 32.8%. The Chicago Bulls starters are better 3-point shooters at 34%. Only Goran Dragic, 41.8%, spaces the floor well with his accuracy from downtown. Surprisingly Justise Winslow at 35.3% is ahead of Dion Waiters, 32.1%, and Josh Richardson, 25.3%, from 3-point land this season. The Heat's best floor spacers by percentage, among the starters, are their big men, Hassan Whiteside and Olynyk, who made 2 of 2 and 1 of 2 of their 3-point attempts.
The question remains on whether the difference in accuracy between the two groups lies in bench defenses being inferior to the defenses the starters face, or something else. How to use these numbers is up to Heat coaches, who have created a bench unit which is a point guard's dream come true. Tune in for tonight's game to see the battle of the benches.