MIAMI – Nobody on the Miami Heat had scored more than 16 points through three quarters on Wednesday.
Yet, four players had totaled at least 15 in a game in which the Heat were comfortably ahead for most of the final three quarters.
“The defense cannot really focus on one or two guys,” said Goran Dragic, who leads the Heat in scoring but has been the high man just once in the last six games.
“They need to be focused on all five guys and that’s really tough to deal with.”
Miami’s 125-98 victory over the 76ers was a snapshot of the season, at least the last six weeks of the season. Miami had six players with at least 14 points, five between 14 and 18 along with Tyler Johnson’s game-high 24.
For the season, the Heat have eight players scoring in double figures, topped by Dragic’s 20.2 per game. No other team has more than six and 11 have four or fewer.
Miami’s total includes Justise Winslow who is out for the season after playing in 18 games, and does not include two starters, Rodney McGruder and Luke Babbitt.
And yet the Heat are 24th in the league with 102.0 points per game, 23rd in offensive efficiency with 103.8 points per 100 possessions.
“Certainly every team would love to play with that kind of balance,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The tough thing is to get your team to play selflessly.”
In the last 10 games, five different players have led the Heat in scoring and twice the Heat have had three players with at least 20 points.
Dragic has had games of 33, 30 and 24. Tyler Johnson has had 24 and 23. Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters twice shared team-high honors, once with 23 and once with 22 and both had other games in which they led the team with 23 each.
James Johnson had back-to-back games of 26 points, one of those topping the team and the other the night Dragic had 30.
“Everybody wants to be the guy that scores 40 a night,” Spoelstra said. “On every team you have multiple players that want to be that guy. For this team our strength is in numbers and balance when the ball is moving and sharing. They have a great maturity and understanding the more guys that are involved the better team we are and the understanding that maybe the leading scorer is a different guy on any given night and that’s OK. That’s good.”
And although Wayne Ellington remains the team’s fourth or even fifth guard, on any given night he can light it up, too. One of those was Wednesday when he knocked down 6-of-9 3-point shots and scored 18 points.
Ellington leads the Heat with 95 threes, yet he is the seventh-leading scorer at 10.9 points per game.
“We have so many weapons that we’re very hard to guard,” Ellington said. “One night it could be Tyler. One night it’s Dion. One night it’s Goran. The next night it’s Hassan. The next night it’s JJ. We have a lot of weapons, so it’s hard to take everything away.”
Miami has had nine different players lead the team in scoring this season, including Derrick Williams, who was released last month. Ellington, though, is not one of them.
That balance has helped Miami (28-33) rip off 17 wins in its last 20 games entering tonight’s game at Orlando and move to within a game of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
And Tyler Johnson believes it can get even better.
“I think there’s another level we can all get to as well,” he said. “It’s different guys, different nights. There’s a whole other level we can get to as far as playing as a team, which is scary.”