NEW YORK – Now that Wayne Ellington has become one of the biggest 3-point threats in the league, the Heat guard is taking advantage of opponents overplaying that part of his game.
Twice in the last five games we’ve seen Ellington make highlight reel plays off the dribble because the defender over-pursued him on perimeter; one ending in a game-winning layup at Toronto and the other a nifty pass to Bam Adebayo for a dunk late in the third quarter of Miami’s win at Milwaukee on Wednesday.
“When you’re a 3-point shooter you have to do other things to continue to be a 3-point shooter or they’ll start taking things away from you,” Ellington said today as the Heat wrapped up shootaround in preparation for tonight’s game at the Nets. “That’s my mindset. Teams want to get me off the 3-point line. If I can do a few other things, maybe get in the paint sometimes, create a play for a teammate, it loosens it up.”
And it shows. Ellington has 11 assists in his last five games, one more than he had in his previous 10.
In Milwaukee, Ellington shocked everybody when he received the ball above the circle, jab-stepped, dribbled to his left, stopped, pulled back as if he were taking a three and never picked up his dribble as Tony Snell over pursued. Ellington then blew by Snell and dished the ball to Adebayo for a dunk.
“I’ve never seen him try that before,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “As he put the ball on the floor I’m screaming, ‘No.’
“I thought he slapped the ball with his right then I saw he pitched it with his left. He wrapped everything into that play, shot fake, put the ball on the floor, hesitation and then the quarterback pitch. Very cool. I don’t know if he’s been working on that behind the scenes but he works on everything so it wouldn’t surprise me.”
Ellington said he was going to shoot the three but then saw how well Snell close out on him.
“He might have contested it or blocked it,” he said. “I got him a little off balance and he was coming to close out. He’s got to respect the three, obviously. I knew I had him in my wheelhouse. It’s just little things like that that are going to help me.”