MIAMI — Through 10 games, the Heat are 2-8 this season.
The good news is all of Miami’s losses have come against winning teams and five of the eight losses have come by seven points or less.
The bad news is there’s a reason the Heat haven’t been able to win those close games. Miami doesn’t have a clear-cut go-to guy to turn to late in close games.
Who should be the Heat’s go-to guy in clutch situations? In this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag, we answer that question and more.
@n_heatnation: Who do you think should be the Heat’s go-to guy down the stretch in close games?
Anthony Chiang: That’s a question I think the Heat are still trying to figure out. Let’s take a look at Monday’s close 93-90 loss to the Hawks. There wasn’t any one Heat player who took over down the stretch. Four Miami players combined to score 11 points over the final five minutes of the game. But who got the most shots down the stretch? Dion Waiters led the Heat with three shots over the final five minutes and missed all of them, including a potential game-tying three at the buzzer.
Without a LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh on the roster, there really is no clear-cut go-to guy.
But really, point guard Goran Dragic should be the Heat’s go-to guy down the stretch in close games. Dragic has taken the most clutch shots (last five minutes in games with score within five points) for the Heat this season with 2.7 field goal attempts per game. Dragic is averaging 4.3 points on 50 percent shooting in clutch situations. No other Heat player is averaging more than two points in clutch situations this season. By comparison, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is averaging six points on 51.7 percent shooting in clutch situations this season.
It’s a small sample size early in the season, but these numbers say that Dragic should be Miami’s go-to player down the stretch. It makes sense because Dragic is one of the few players on the roster who can create a quality shot for himself off the dribble.
@the_inn_keeper: Why is Josh McRoberts now the first center center off the bench instead of Willie Reed?
Anthony Chiang: This has been an interesting development with the Heat’s rotation. Since Josh McRoberts returned from injury on Saturday, Willie Reed has played just two minutes over Miami’s past three games. Through the first seven games, Reed was averaging 14 minutes of playing time per game as the Heat’s first center off the bench. But with McRoberts now healthy, he’s been Miami’s first center off the bench when starting center Hassan Whiteside needs a breather. Erik Spoelstra likely made this change because of Reed’s defense. Players have shot 60 percent — 13.1 percent above their normal shooting percentage — with Reed defending them this season.
Also, McRoberts might be the best passer on the Heat’s roster. That’s important because ball movement is a critical part of this Miami offense. Reed has made a team-low seven passes per game, compared to McRoberts’ 19 passes per game this season.
@BeltzaCane: Any advice for someone who believed the Heat would win more than 43 games this season?
Anthony Chiang: Hang in there. It’s a long season. If this makes you feel any better, the Heat’s eight losses have come against teams with a combined 50-25 record. I don’t know if Miami will get to 43 wins, but things will improve.