Battier Keying Heat’s Finals Success

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Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat defends against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat defends against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Last summer, the Miami Heat signed forward Shane Battier looking to bolster an already tough defense and hit a key 3-point shot or two in a game.

Battier took a while to get warmed up, but as the playoffs have worn on; his game has started to hit a level not even he probably could have expected.

In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Battier took just two three-point shots and hit both of them. It’s become an all-too familiar sight for the Oklahoma City Thunder and has exposed them to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James slicing to the basket.

So far in the NBA Finals, Battier is 11-15 from 3-point land, or a staggering 73.3 percent. Battier is averaging 14.3 points per game in the Finals and has been the catalyst to many of the Heat’s runs in Games 2 and 3.

For perspective, the entire Oklahoma City Thunder team has made 18 3-pointers, but has taken 46 3-point shots to get there. OKC is shooting 39 percent from 3-point land, or roughly 24 percent less than Battier.

How does Battier explain his Finals success? “I’m just letting it fly,” Battier said.

But Battier knows the series is a long way from over.

“This team is not going away,” Battier said. “This is an evenly matched series. Literally ever game has been decided by four or five possession. We just want to be on the right side of those possessions when it counts.”

Battier’s aggressive defense helped get the Heat to the NBA Finals as he guarded David West to a draw in the Conference semifinals and his defense in the Finals, with his hand constantly in the face of Kevin Durant, has driven the NBA scoring champion crazy.

As long as Battier can continue to hit his shots, the sky is the limit for the Heat. With just two victories needed to hoist the NBA Championship, the Heat need Battier to be at the top of his game for at least 96 more court minutes.

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