Take That For Data: Lifeless Heat blow another late lead at home

News3 years ago6 min readRob Slater

The Miami Heat blew yet another lead for a 92-104 loss Tuesday to the Brooklyn Nets at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Our very own Rob Slater (@RobSlater10), is filling in for Christian Hernandez and pieced together his biggest takeaways for Miami in a series we’re calling, “Take That For Data.”

 Player of the Game: Justise Winslow

The first 16 games of Justise Winslow’s season have been as uneven, inconsistent and at times maddening as any point in his career. Given how inspired his play was against the Sixers in last year’s postseason, this start is all the more frustrating. In the last week, it’s become nearly impossible to justify keeping him on the floor (and “young” isn’t something that earns you minutes in this league), which prompted a change from Spoelstra against Brooklyn sending Winslow to the bench, his fourth appearance there this year.

The results were incredibly encouraging. Small sample size, sure, but we saw more of that confident, imposing Winslow than the hesitant, often overmatched version that’s been all too common this year. Winslow was one of the last guys off the bench, even after rookie Duncan Robinson, but played 17 minutes and absolutely warranted that volume of minutes. The Heat had a +32.4 net rating with him on the floor and a -32.2 net with him off and on a night where offense was scarce, the Heat had a 114.7 offensive rating with Winslow on the floor.

Let’s not overreact here, but this is a start. Maybe Winslow needed the wake up call of coming off the bench, but the reality is he affected the team in a positive way last night and that’ll keep you on the floor. He was feeling very comfortable with his game, which you can see from this play where he attacks an out of position DeMarre Carroll and challenges Jarrett Allen on the floater. More of this, less of the timid, unsure of himself Justise Winslow.

(Three-Man) Lineup of the Game: Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside, Rodney McGruder

There’s a lot of talk around the Heat about some of their players putting up “empty numbers.” In other words, a player who fills up the box score but either has no impact on winning or a negative impact. With these three last night, an argument could be made they all put up very hollow numbers. The Heat’s three leading scorers last night contributed to some of the worst basketball of the entire game, and the three-man combination of Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside and Rodney McGruder spent 25 minutes on the floor together and produced a -18.4 net rating (just a 74.5 offensive rating) as well as a suboptimal 30.4 effective field goal percentage and a 35.6 true shooting percentage.

The Heat simply can’t win when their best producers on a given night are essentially overall negative players. One of the best things about some of the greatest teams in this franchise’s history is that when the best players were on, the team as a whole played better. The Heat either need to work to improve this from within, or find the guy who can do it.

Matchup of the Game: Hassan Whiteside vs. Jarrett Allen

Allen didn’t play in the Heat’s road win at Brooklyn last week so this was certainly the matchup to watch. The two were far and away the most frequent matchup of the game with Whiteside scoring 16 on Allen and 13 points when the roles were reversed. Allen bested Whiteside in shooting percentage, going 5/8 (62.5) to Whiteside’s 39 percent. Allen also had two assists to Whiteside’s three turnovers. Allen also came away with the win, which you could argue is the best of them all.

The bigger issue at play here is yet another game where Whiteside didn’t really win his matchup. The following players all have positive point differentials when matched up with Whiteside this season: Joel Embiid (+21.7), Willy Hernangomez (+9.3), Mo Bamba (+4.9), Alex Len (+3.6), Allen and Cody Zeller (+1.6), Willie Cauley-Stein (+1.5), Tyson Chandler (+0.5) and Jakob Poeltl (+0.1). Whiteside is the fourth highest-paid center in the league and winning matchups absolutely needs to be at the top of his responsibilities on game-day.

Stat of the Game: The Duncan Robinson Effect?

One of the more notable adjustments from Spoelstra in this game was an early nod to rookie Duncan Robinson, who entered in the first quarter to provide additional shooting and floor spacing. As evident by the abysmal performances in the first and fourth quarters where the Heat shot a season low on the season for each respective quarter (the fourth quarter’s -15 point differential is also a season worst, as is the two assists and three-point percentage), any injection of offense is necessary and Robinson did just that.

In his 12 minutes, the Heat had a 122.2 offensive rating. Despite Robinson making just one three (he had a second negated by a three-second violation), his activity on the offensive end made Brooklyn respect his ability to shoot and thus opened up the offense for the other players. You’ll notice this particular action as a favorite of Spoelstra’s to free Wayne Ellington. While this is probably a make with a little better execution on the screening, Robinson’s ability to move within the offense and get his shot off will earn him more minutes in the future.

A caution that we’re playing with extremely small sample sizes here, but this could potentially be something to watch for moving forward. Robinson’s ability to shoot provides an offensive boost that could allow offensively limited players like Winslow and Bam Adebayo particularly with how much the Nets targeted Robinson on the defensive end. Robinson, Winslow and Adebayo can help each other on both ends. Again, small sample size alert but the three of them overlapped for three minutes last night and posted a +37.5 net. Watch this space.

Hustle Stat Leaders

The Heat pride themselves on being the hardest working team in the league, so here are some important hustle categories from the loss to Brooklyn.

Screen Assists: Bam Adebayo (4)

Deflections: Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson (2)

Box Outs: Bam Adebayo (10)

Charges Drawn: N/A