Dion Waiters is playing well in clutch situations. Now, Erik Spoelstra wants to see that Waiters for the entire game

MIAMI — Dion Waiters remembers the game-winner he made against the Warriors at AmericanAirlines Arena last season. He remembers the pose he made after the shot, celebrating by crossing his arms and nodding his head in approval of the moment.

With the Warriors back in Miami for Sunday’s game against the Heat, that shot has become a topic of discussion over the past few days.

“It’s just the opportunity that I always wanted, that I always knew that I could make those shots,” Waiters said in advance of the Heat’s game against the defending NBA champions. “I was just never given that opportunity. I think that’s the biggest thing when I look back at that shot. If I was on another team, I probably wouldn’t be able to get that shot. So by having that confidence in myself, just knowing that if I’m fortunate enough to take those shots that I know that I can make them. That’s all that was. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Dion Waiters #11 of the Miami Heat celebrates after hitting a three point shot against the Washington Wizards in the second half at Capital One Arena on November 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

But the shot Waiters made against the Warriors is actually not his favorite clutch shot. The 3-pointer he hit with 6.8 seconds remaining to clinch the Heat’s comeback road win over the Nets in January last season is at the top of his list.

Those two shots helped cement Waiters’ role as the Heat’s go-to guy late in close games. Coach Erik Spoelstra says the next step for Waiters is to become a more efficient player throughout the rest of the contest.

“The other side of that is helping him improve all the other 45 minutes of the game offensively, which he is coming a long way,” Spoelstra said after Saturday’s practice. “I really like the progress he’s making. I know his shooting numbers aren’t showing it right now, not necessarily his turnovers. I think those will come down. I think his shooting percentage will come up, because he’s starting to understand different reads, different coverages, the responsibility of having to make plays for our basketball team. He’s seeing that at a deeper level.”

Waiters, 25, enters Sunday averaging 15.6 points on 40 percent shooting this season. He leads the Heat in turnovers, averaging 2.8 per game.

But Waiters is a more efficient player in “clutch” situations— defined by the NBA as a game that has a margin of five points or fewer inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. In “clutch” time, Waiters ranks third in the league in points with 5.0 per game on 60.7 percent shooting only behind Boston’s Kyrie Irving and Cleveland’s LeBron James.

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