Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heat Need to Capitalize on Free Throws

The Miami Heat have not been taking advantage of basketball's most renewable resource - free throws. The essence of the word "free throw" clearly states that the points are free and uncontested. In other words, they are the easiest points you will make at any point in a game (unless you let the pressure get to your head).

For the season, the Miami Heat have a team free throw percentage of 76.1 %. That means they make about three out of every four free throws they take. It may sound decent, but when you realize that they are charity shots you begin to question how good that is.

Although free throw percentage does not necessarily equate to winning, it is still important to make your shots from the "charity stripe." In the Miami Heat's case it is especially important when Wade is the major scorer at about 30 ppg and the next leading scorer is Jermaine O'Neal at 13.7 ppg. You gotta find ways to score beyond Wade's contributions.

The Heat more recently have been shooting at a lower percentage than their season average. From March 15 through March 22, the team has combined for a free throw percentage of 69%. More specifically, Dwyane Wade (who played three out of the four games in that stretch) recorded a sub-par 71% free throw percentage. It's an obvious indicator of an area in need of improvement.

Look at it this way, in the three losses over that time frame (versus the 76ers, Celtics, and Nets) the team missed 22 free throws. Each game was lost by 8 points or less. If they make a few more free throws, the outcomes could have been drastically different.

My advice: Tell Coach Spoelstra, or "Spo" as they call him, to amp up the focus on free throws in order to avoid losing close games at the charity stripe. Make it a point that free throws can be the key to having more games decided in their favor. It boils down to "make or break" situations in the end.


generalbulshi said...

hello, Frances told me about your website. i think its pretty cool and informative. you a great writer and this article really touched me. I totally have your same view point on this topic. The heat are really missing a lot of free throws. Right now im watching the heat's second playoff game and they have missed like about 40% of the free throws (my guess).

David J. Verjano said...

Thanks for the compliments. I hope you come back and read some more in the future because we'll always have something new to talk about.

I'm glad the Heat came back to win game two versus the Hawks. It was a great game and the team played better than expected, in my opinion. The free throws were a little bit of an issue, but the Hawks had the same problem, so it was okay.

I think we have gotten better at free throws from the time I wrote this article. Let's hope they continue to get better as the playoffs go on.

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