BOSTON — An aggressive Kelly Olynyk is an effective Kelly Olynyk, according to the Heat.
Olynyk attempted a season-high 15 shots — including a season-high eight 3-pointers — Wednesday on his way to a career-high 32-point performance in a win over his former team, the Boston Celtics. Considering Olynyk is averaging just 6.9 shot attempts per game this season and 7.5 shot attempts in his NBA career, Wednesday’s stat line seems like an outlier.
But the Heat hope it’s the start of a trend, even if it doesn’t result in 30-point performances every time.
“Especially the way teams are defending now, especially in pick-and-roll,” point guard Goran Dragic said when asked how important it is for Olynyk to stay aggressive on offense. “They start blitzing. If Kelly pops, nobody is there. We don’t want him to pump fake or put the ball on the floor. We just want him to shoot. He’s an excellent shooter. He did it tonight. We want him to shoot close to six, seven threes a game. That helps a lot because it opens the floor and brings that other guy out. It’s easier to create.”
Dion Waiters has been pushing the skilled 7-footer to shoot more, too.
“Look what happens when you shoot the ball. I wish I had the luxury of coach telling me to shoot,” Waiters joked. “That’s what happens. We’ve been telling him all year, shoot the ball, shoot the ball. He picked a great night to let that thing fly.
“I yell at him all the time because me and him are mostly in the pick-and-roll and I tell him it opens up the game for me. If you shoot, you make two, you miss two, you keep shooting no matter what, especially if they’re going to give it to you. Not too many bigs want to go out there and zone and then run back out there to the 3-point line. Not too many guys want to do that.”
After the first 31 regular-season games of his Heat career, Olynyk is starting to understand that message.
“A lot of support. Goran tells me to shoot it every single time,” said Olynyk, who is shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range this season. “It’s a great group of guys in this locker room, a lot of character. Everybody just wants everybody else to succeed as much as they do. It’s a great place to be, a great organization with a great coach and a great group of guys behind you and that’s refreshing.”
Olynyk is going through a similar adjustment period as the one Wayne Ellington and Luke Babbitt went through in their first season with the Heat last year. Coach Erik Spoelstra pushed Ellington and Babbitt to shoot every open 3-pointer they got in games.
Ellington ended up attempting a career-high amount of threes and Babbitt finished just shy of his career-high mark last season. The Heat hope Olynyk is on his way to doing the same, as he’s averaging 2.9 3-point shot attempts per game this season (0.1 away from his career-high of 3.0).
“It’s the same thing that happened with Luke Babbitt and Wayne [Ellington] when he got here,” Dragic said. “It’s just a different system. I think he’s going to get it. It’s not that hard. Just shoot the ball. He’s got a green light. That’s good. Coach believes in him, we believe in him and we want him to shoot those shots.”
* Olynyk said his left knee, which got caught underneath his body following a dunk late in the fourth quarter Wednesday, was not bothering him after the game.
“I landed kind of awkwardly… and I hyper-extended it a little bit,” Olynyk said. “It straightened out and my leg just went dead kind of like if your arm goes dead if you hit your funny bone. I couldn’t feel my leg. So I was trying to run up the floor, but I literally couldn’t feel my leg hitting the ground. It was kind of a weird feeling. It subsided. It was kind of normal about 10 minutes later. But it was the weirdest feeling. I didn’t know what was going on.”