Chris Bosh said on the eve of training camp three weeks ago that he’s working to get to the point where his three-point shot “feels like it’s just a regular jumper.”
After leading Miami with a career-high 37.5 shooting percentage from beyond the arc last season, the Heat’s 6-11, 235-pound power forward said it’s not beyond the realm of possibility he could shoot 40 percent this season — something 22 players were able to accomplish last season in the NBA.
“That’s what two, three [percentage] points?” Bosh said with a grin. “Why not?”
Although raining threes won’t be the Heat’s mantra this season — after all it isn’t stacked with shooters like the Warriors, Cavaliers or Rockets — it still wants to better at making them than it was last season. Call it makes over takes — even if the rest of the NBA is launching threes with more frequency.
Last season, the league’s two NBA finalists averaged 30.3 (Cavaliers) and 29.1 (Warriors) three-point shots per game in the playoffs and more than 27 a game in the regular season.
Cleveland and Golden State also ranked in the top five in makes along with the Rockets, Clippers and Hawks (a combined 292-118 record between the teams). The bottom five teams in the NBA in makes were 176-234 combined — including the Wizards and Grizzlies, who both made the playoffs.
During last season’s 37-45 finish, the Heat ranked 20th in makes (6.8 per game), 19th takes (20.2) and 24th in percentage (33.5). That’s a far cry from when it last won the title in 2012-13 and was third in makes (8.7), sixth in takes (22.1) and second in percentage (39.6).
Of course, that team had five players — Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and LeBron James — shoot 40 percent or better for the season.
This year’s Heat isn’t built like that. Newcomer Gerald Green, a career 36.8 percent shooter from three-point range who finished fifth in the league two seasons ago in makes and shot 40 percent, is arguably the most potent three-point weapon.
But with 7-footer Hassan Whiteside drawing attention in the paint and point guard Goran Dragic pushing the pace to open up space, coach Erik Spoelstra believes the Heat will find will find plenty of clean looks once the season starts.
“While it may not be the type of three-point shooting that will be competing in an NBA three-point shooting contest, you don’t want to leave some of our guys open,” Spoelstra said. “They have enough on their résumés to make enough shots that hurt you, especially at the appropriate times.”
Four games into this preseason, though, the Heat hasn’t been that team just yet. Although the starters have only played in three preseason games, Miami is shooting 24.4 percent from long distance.
The starters — Bosh (2 of 6), Dwyane Wade (2 of 4), Dragic (1 of 4) and Luol Deng (2 of 7) — are a combined 7 of 21 (33.3 percent). The second unit — Chalmers (1 of 2), Green (4 of 15), Justise Winslow (2 of 5) and Chamers (1 of 2) — are combined 8 of 29 (27.5 percent).
“It’s more about everybody getting on the same page, figuring out where their shots are going to be and then being comfortable taking those shots,” said Chalmers, who shot a career-worst 29.4 percent from three last season, down from the 38.7 percent he shot when James was his teammate the previous four seasons combined. “It’s a process. It’s all going to come together.”
Bosh agreed. He said it really wasn’t until Monday’s game against the Spurs — the Heat’s third of the preseason — players finally began to get the three-point looks they wanted in the flow of the offense.
“We want to [shoot] 35 percent and up,” Bosh said. “Thirty-five percent used to be excellent. Now, 35 is decent. We want to be like 37, 38.
“Over the course of the season if we’re at 37 percent, that means we’re pretty good. That means we’re getting wide open shots and we’re coming down, shooting good shots. Of course we want to shoot threes — keep up with the league and shoot a lot of threes. But that doesn’t mean you jack as many as you want. They’ve got to be good threes.”
A trio of Heat players are still dealing with knee soreness that will likely keep them out of action this weekend when the Heat plays a back-to-back in Houston on Saturday and Atlanta on Sunday.
Josh McRoberts didn’t practice Friday, Amar’e Stoudemire was limited, and Chalmers, who did practice, said he was looking to play Sunday.