MIAMI – The Miami Heat are tied for 27th in the league offensively, which means they can use all the help they can get.
Like at the free throw line.
But the Heat’s free throw shooting is even worse. In fact, it’s the dead last in the league at .667, and continues to cost them games. During Miami’s 102-98 loss to the Clippers on Friday, Miami was 16-of-25 from the line. In its previous loss at Chicago, Miami was 11-of-18 and lost by five.
“We dig a hole with that a little bit,” said Goran Dragic following the Clippers loss. Dragic leads the Heat with an 81.8 free throw percentage.
“If you make all the free throws probably the game will go differently. I would say it’s all mental. You need to be focused on the free throw line. Not only in games, but even in practice. Not only going to the line and just shoot it but try to visualize it like it’s in game. Then it will probably be a much better percentage.”
Dragic made all seven of his free throw attempts against the Clippers.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat still had a chance to win Friday despite the struggles from the line. Still, it’s clear the Heat are costing themselves games at the line. Miami is 9-18 entering tonight’s 6 p.m. game against the 14-12 Celtics.
“We’re working at it,” Spoelstra said Friday before adding, “We still had chances. At the end of the game all you’re thinking is do have a chance? However you get there, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
“We had opportunities to take a lead, we just weren’t able to make enough plays down the stretch even without the free throw shooting.
The Heat have three rotation players shooting 65 percent or worse, including Hassan Whiteside who struggles at 52.5 percent. Whiteside, who shot 65 percent last season, is the fifth worst free throw shooter in the league out of the 106 players who qualify.
Miami has been outscored this year by 76 points. If the Heat were shooting the NBA average of .765 from the line that would mean 58 additional points.
For a team that has lost 13 games by fewer than 10 points there’s no telling how many more victories that would mean.