The perimeter shooting specialist is a soft and willowy species, easily knocked aside by a strong closeout or a stiff breeze. Their primary habitat is anywhere beyond the three-point line and they subsist on a steady diet of open space. They abhor rebounds and setting screens, functioning primarily as a brief receptacles for kinetic energy — catch-and-shoot, catch-and-shoot, catch-and-shoot.
Mirza Teletovic is shooter of another stripe. If you haven’t caught his one-man wrecking crew act in the Nets series against the Heat he’s now 11-19 on three-pointers (57.9 percent), each one a high-pressure face-melter. On-balance, off-balance, hand in the face, as starkly wide open as the Kansas prairie, they’ve all been going down. That he’s been drilling outside shots shouldn’t be a surprise. Teletovic shot 39.0 percent on three-pointers on this season and scored 65.3 percent of his points from beyond the arc, a higher percentage than any other player in the NBA. But the ease and swagger with which those shots have been falling is physically striking.
And physically striking is the key. This is not some Steve Novak act, a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man dancing around the perimeter trying to throw the ball through the hoop when no one is looking. Teletovic is drilling three-pointers in people’s faces and then running up court looking for someone to punch in the throat. He’s like some twisted Marvel superhero, absorbing excessive amounts of physical contact and then channeling it into a beautifully precise shooting form. He let’s the air out of the building and then blows it back in your face.
Teletovic is not the first shooting specialist to coexist with physicality. But usually those two abilities are distant neighbors on the spectrum of mutual exclusivity. The more your specialized skills revolves around the jump shot the less brute force you are able to supplement them with. It is this that makes Teletovic unique. It his soft touch and his sharp elbows that set him apart.
The Nets still have a sliver of hope in this series and they have slathered it with delusional self-confidence. And ultimately that is the biggest weapon they can bring to bear on Miami — they have a stack of bodies who have been through these wars before. They aren’t burdened by fear or self-doubt, almost comically embracing the opposite. Winning this series requires more than just self-confidence, but many of the things victory requires are facilitated by that confidence. Fearlessness, physicality, shooting, they are all necessities. Thank goodness they have Mirza.