The Dion Waiters Experience is in Full Effect
It is now Day 7, Game 4:
We have reached shore. Dion Waiters Island. We don’t really know what to think, but we’re hopeful.
Weird. There’s a roller coaster with Waiters’ face draped all over it situated directly in the center of the island. It sure does look fun.
A made jumper. A block on an Arron Afflalo’s jump shot. Five free throw attempts, including an and-one scooping layup. Eleven points and three assists in the first quarter for Dion Waiters. Eleven points is the highest individual scoring quarter for the Heat this season, because of course. This was just the beginning of the ridiculously reckless roller coaster that took place tonight at American Airlines Arena.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 2, 2016
You know, like when the roller coaster slowly makes its way up the tracks? That’s also when you find yourself thinking: I may or may not regret this sooner than later. But it’s gonna be fun. This was the case tonight and probably will be the case for the rest of the season as well.
In a strange game where the HEAT’s highest-paid [active] player, Hassan Whiteside, struggled to do much of anything early on in his matchup against former teammate and fellow elite big man DeMarcus Cousins, the HEAT outplayed the Kings and held the lead for the majority of the game. This came at the hands of the HEAT’s starting lineup, which is ranked second in the league in Net Rating for any lineups with at least 25 minutes played together. This was the case until about midway through the fourth quarter, when Rudy Gay, (30 points, 12 rebounds on 11/24 shooting), decided to really step up his game in what he probably thought was his tryout for the HEAT.
After the Rudy Gay takeover came in the middle of the roller coaster. The HEAT had an up-and-down fourth quarter filled with questionable Dion Waiters decisions and probably way too much time handling the ball. We got to see a few minutes of the HEAT’s record being put in the hands of Dion Waiters, where he proceeded to try and throw a two-handed, cross-court pass to the left corner that wasn’t even close and where he missed a late shot-clock fade-away three wide left.
This was when I realized that Dion Waiters’ contract at about $2.8M was even more of a value deal than I had originally thought; not only was Dion Waiters going to be a secondary, sometimes tertiary, ball handler who can score in bunches, but if the HEAT keep giving him responsibility as a fourth quarter performer, he might also be the perfect one-man tank machine if the time comes for that, too. I don’t believe it’s much of a coincidence that the HEAT played much better in overtime, where they outscored the Kings by 12, when they kept feeding Goran the ball with steady doses of Justise Winslow and Bumpy Johnson.
We are in midseason form with the Dion Waiters experience. The Dion Waiters roller coaster game ended in him taking the HEAT’s final shot in regulation, (contested three), but also with him finishing with 20 points on 7/14 shooting, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 turnovers. Not bad, actually.
We are still stranded at Dion Waiters island.
Whiteside vs. Boogie
Another reason the HEAT were able to easily out-class the Sacramento Kings in overtime was because of DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins fouling out after getting called for all six of his personal fouls in the fourth quarter alone. This came as a result of the fearsome Godzilla-Mothra duel between him and Whiteside, who wasn’t able to play well or even stay on the court throughout the first three-quarters because of HIS foul trouble.
Whiteside had a big fourth quarter against the likes of Boogie, even though he had to play more conservatively given his five fouls. Hassan finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 5 fouls and also somehow finished with a team-high 23.2 Net Rating despite it all. Cousins finished with 30 points on 8/16 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 fouls. The gargantuan duel eventually led to the Kings’ demise as the HEAT survived to win 108-96.
Goran Dragic Finds his Groove
Goran Dragic once again showed you he’s still more than capable of thriving as the team’s primary playmaker. Gogi (editors note: please don’t call him that ever again), finished the game with 25 points on 8/14 shooting including 5/8 from three, 8 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. That’s a LeBron-esque stat line. No, but seriously, Goran is damn effective.
Through the first four games of the season, the Dragon is averaging about 20 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game on 48 percent shooting from the field and 52% from Kaboom Town, (including a marvelous 60.7 True Shooting percentage). The last time Goran finished a season with numbers like those, he was awarded with an All-NBA Third Team spot.
The HEAT looked like the fun, but flawed team so many of us projected coming into the season. The team as a whole shot just 43% from the field, but also shot 45% (13 of 29) from three. They put up 22 fast break points to Sacramento’s 6. Also, the Heat’s bench, led by Tyler Johnson’s 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting, (eat it, @gnavas103), outscored the Kings’ bench 30 to 16. This is the antithesis to last season’s HEAT team. This is all about survival. Get ready for these types of games happening much more often, HEAT fans. The season’s only just begun.