Opponents making adjustments to stop Heat’s Wayne Ellington. What will Ellington’s adjustment be in response?

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, left, and Kyle Korver, right, wrap up the Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington to force a jump ball in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. The Cavs won, 91-89. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — Wayne Ellington has earned a lot of respect from around the league this season.

Ellington entered Friday ranked fifth in the league in 3-pointers made this season with 153. With two months remaining in the regular season, he’s already surpassed his career single-season high for made three-pointers, which was 149 from last year.

Those numbers have earned him a spot in the Feb. 17 3-point contest during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and it’s also earned him a top spot on opposing scouting reports.

It’s one of the primary reasons the Heat’s offense struggled in Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers. Cleveland made stopping Ellington a top priority and it showed in the box score, as he finished with zero points and missed all three of his 3-point shot attempts.

“Wayne Ellington was a big part of our game plan,” former Heat and current Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade said. “As a team, we wanted to make sure he didn’t get hot, because we know when he gets hot it opens everything up.”

“Everything Wayne Ellington is doing, knowing he is one of the biggest triggers on their team and in the league, we were right on top of him from the beginning,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James said.

The fact that Ellington missed each one of his shots from beyond the arc isn’t even the most telling statistic. It’s that he attempted just three 3-pointers, the fewest he’s taken since he shot just one three in a loss to the Wizards on Nov. 15.

“I watched quite a bit of [film from the Cavaliers game],” Ellington said in advance of Friday’s matchup with the 76ers. “They really honed in on me, taking away some of my looks and some of my catch and shoots.”

Ellington said the Cavaliers blitzed the hand-off plays he’s been able to get open shots on and they switched defenders to smother him on catch-and-shoot looks. So what’s the adjustment?

“Just being able to expand a little bit, expand my game a little bit and keep them honest,” Ellington said. “Maybe get a few backdoor cuts, maybe a few back screens to loosen up the defenders. Just little things that I want to do to be able to work to get myself open a little bit better and also mixing it up. Being able to get into the paint a little bit, make a play for myself or a teammate. That always opens it up.”

The Heat’s offense is better when Ellington hits 3-pointers, as Miami is 15-4 when he makes four or more threes in a game this season. And opponents have started to realize that.

“That’s the ultimate respect,” he said of teams game planning for him. “But also at the same time, I got to be better as a player. I can’t just let them take me away. Obviously, for our team, I want to be able to contribute even when that is their game plan. I still got to be effective out there.”

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