Cup of Joe: Responding To Adversity
Although the HEAT were in the midst of a rough patch when we last met in this space two weeks ago, things got even worse with consecutive losses to the Cavs and Timberwolves.
After succumbing to Minnesota on Feb. 26, Miami fell to 36-22 and found itself five games behind Boston for the third seed in the East.
At the time, the team said that they’d fix things and figure it out.
And well, they did just that.
Since Feb. 28, the HEAT have won five of their last six and own the fifth-best net rating in the league at 5.8. As such, they’re now just a game and a half behind the Celtics in the standings.
Following Miami’s victory over Milwaukee on March 2, Bam Adebayo pointed to one thing in particular for the turnaround.
“We’re having fun again. I feel like that was a big emphasis…we’re back to having fun and really enjoying the game.”
Let’s see how they did it.
Robinson Continuing To Make History
This has been some year for Duncan Robinson, hasn’t it?
Despite it being his first full season in the NBA (he was on a two-way deal for the bulk of 2018-19), Robinson’s name has been etched all over the HEAT record books.
But perhaps his most impressive accolade came against the Pelicans on March 6 when he broke Wayne Ellington’s franchise record for most threes in a season…with 19 games still remaining.
Robinson just wants to keep it going.
“It’s been a journey, and this season’s been a journey. I’m certainly humbled to be in the position that I am,” the 25-year-old said after the game. “I’m appreciative of everything coming my way. I just want to keep it rolling and continue to impact winning.”
Also in that contest with New Orleans, Robinson set the record for most threes in a season by an undrafted player and most threes by any player in either of their first two seasons.
Keep in mind that he’s accomplished all of this while shooting an unreal 45.3 percent from deep. Most of his treys come from the left and right wings, where he’s combined to shoot 136-of-299 (45.5 percent). The league average from both spots is around 35 percent.
What’s more, Robinson ranks second in the league behind Davis Bertans with 9.6 catch-and-shoot points per game on a 69.1 eFG%.
Erik Spoelstra has certainly taken notice of the difficulty of those looks.
“I think [Duncan’s story] is [a] really remarkable story of persistence,” Spoelstra said. “And how much he’s improved really is incredible…the degree of difficulty now on his movement catch-and-shoot threes is up there with anybody in this league. And his accuracy on those tough ones really is unique.”
Of course, a big reason why Robinson gets those shots in the first place is due to his tireless movement off the ball.
All told, he’s second on the squad in average speed on the offensive end (4.70 miles per hour) and third in miles traveled per game (2.27).
Bam On The Attack
While Adebayo has been his usual self on both ends of the floor recently (leads the team in screen assists, contested shots and loose balls recovered over the past six outings), he’s also started to be more efficient when attacking the basket.
In fact, he’s averaging 1.294 points per direct drive over his last six.
The latest example of that came against the Wizards on Sunday, as Adebayo took it to Washington’s slew of bigs and either finished plays inside or found his teammates along the perimeter.
“We just put the ball in Bam's hands and ran our offense through him, and he was tremendous down the stretch,” Spoelstra said. “It's showing you how much his game is growing. He was able to get to the free-throw line, get to the bucket and create some opportunities there at the end.”
Jimmy Butler added:
“That’s what All-Stars do. That’s what future max players do. And he’s definitely all of that and more. We’re happy to have him. We’re glad that he’s the leader of this team. And moving forward, we need that every possession, one through fourth quarter.”
Protecting The Rim
Another trend that Adebayo has been a part of is the HEAT’s ability to limit teams from scoring inside.
Case in point: Miami held the Wizards to just 4-of-6 shooting in the restricted area. Yes, six attempts all game.
And when you delve deeper, the numbers continue to impress.
Overall, the HEAT give up the third-fewest attempts in the restricted area per game (25.6) and the fifth-least points in the paint per game (44.5).
We’ll see if they can keep it up.
Odds & Ends:
-Like Robinson, Kelly Olynyk basically has fire emitting from his right hand, as he’s shooting 20-of-28 from deep (71.4 percent) since the All-Star Break.
Do you remember this step-back three against the Bucks?
I’d venture to guess that Brook Lopez would like to forget it.
Until next time.