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Prized Possession: SLOBs and Cuts

Sometimes these Prized Possessions are important records for the Miami HEAT. They’ll mark down moments when team shows signs of evolution in one aspect of the game or another. They’ll show ventures into new sets, some of which we’ll only see once or twice in a given month, whether they worked or not.

But they’re always about execution and efficiency. And that’s why we talk about and show examples of off-ball movement so often.

You want efficiency? As logged by Synergy Sports, the average points per possession scored by an NBA team in the half-court this season is .870.

On spot-up opportunities, teams average .939 points per possession.

How about in putting back offensive rebounds? 1.045.

And in transition? 1.132.

You probably know where this is going. The average used cut possession during the 2011-12 NBA season yields 1.179 points.

There’s a simple reason for this. For a cut possession to get logged, it has to be used. For the possession to be used, the player cutting to the basket has to get the ball. And what typically happens when a player cutting to the rim gets the ball is that player takes a shot around and near the rim, be it a layup, a short hook shot or a dunk.

We’re playing a little loose with the numbers here, but the general point stands: any time you see a player move cut into an open lane and a pass heads his way, you can pretty much stand up and shout, “Efficiency.”

Do that during every HEAT outing and you’ll be exclaiming your love for efficiency 10 times a game, up from 7.1 last season.

As for the execution side of things, here are two examples of the same sidelines-out-of-bounds (SLOB) play working twice in the same half against Indiana, just because Dwyane Wade is good a moving without the ball.

We begin with Wade inbounding, with Chris Bosh popping out to the strong side elbow to receive the initial pass, with LeBron James on the weakside and the pair of Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony ready to set a double screen for Wade on the block.

This is essentially an option play for Wade. He gets to bodies to work around, and can use them as he see fits, depending on how the defense is playing him. Since Paul George is playing the baseline, Wade creates a moment of contact and starts off to go over the top of the double screen.

Its critical here to mention how important Bosh is to the floor spacing here. Because nobody in their right mind is going to willingly concede shooting space to Bosh so early in a possession, David West has to play above the free throw line, giving Wade the space to adjust his approach. If West sucks into the paint, Hibbert doesn’t have to step up so high to try and chuck Wade off his line.

But that’s what Hibbert has to do, so with Anthony screening George, Wade slips underneath Hibbert and James slips the bounce pass in for a layup.

Not quite Hickory High’s picket fence, but it works all the same. And about half the people reading this probably ran a variation of this play in High School. It normally doesn’t work twice in the same half, though.

Exact same setup here, with Norris Cole in for Chalmers, Bosh slotting in at the center spot for Anthony, James on the near elbow where Bosh was before and Mike Miller playing the passer on the weak side (having tall passers that can see the floor is an underrated aspect of Miami’s lineups this year).

Again, the floor is space, and again, Wade creates contact with George and goes over the top of the double screen. West creates contact with Wade, but with Bosh screening there is still nowhere for George to go but chase Wade. And with the paint wide open, Wade simply curls for another layup.

Is this exact set something the HEAT can run for a layup every time they happen to take the ball out of bounds on the sideline near the corner? No, but the principles carry over no matter how the players on the floor are positioned. Give Wade options to create shots without the ball in his hands, and let passers find him.

And find efficiency.