Mailbag: Are the Miami Heat headed down the same rocky road as last season?

Heat forward Josh Richardson grabs a rebound against Pistons guard Luke Kennard during Detroit’s victory Sunday. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The Miami Heat return home Wednesday’s to face the Wizards one game below .500 after concluding their longest road trip of the season.

We answer a question about that record and the rookie class of 2015 in our latest mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44 or email me at tdangelo@pbpost.

From Gene, Pembroke Pines: Are the Heat going down the same road as last season? Are we in for another slow start?

Not quite. Sure, the Heat would like to be above .500 after 13 games, but considering they had a six-game trip out West, 6-7 is not the end of the world. Remember, Miami’s sixth win last season came in their 18th game and they already were six games below .500. And it would get much worse, as we know.

This team, though, has shown signs lately of getting back to playing the style Erik Spoelstra prefers by tightening up their defense, which gives them a chance to win most every game, especially on the road. The Heat ended their trip allowing 99.0 points per game while the opponents shot 41.6 percent. In the first seven games of the season, Miami gave up 106.6 points per game while opponents shot 45.9 percent. That’s a start. And with this schedule, if Miami hovers around .500 through the end of the month, it should be able to start winning more frequently starting in December.

From wyattd711: Do you think Josh Richardson has too big of a leash on offense? Can we ever expect Justise to play 30 mpg? Seems like he fades to the bench in second half.

Richardson, the Heat’s second-round pick in 2015,  has started every game this season for two reasons: His defense and the threat he will knock down the 3-point shot. The 6-foot-6 wing has held the players he is guarding to 8.9 percent below their normal shooting percentage, best on the team. And as a someone who guards high-scoring wings, that is invaluable.

But, his offense has been a struggle. Since his strong second half of his rookie season  – he shot 50 percent from the field and 53.3 percent on threes after the All-Star game – Richardson is shooting 39.3 percent, 32.8 on threes. Spoelstra, though, does not want his players to lose confidence when the shot is not dropping and would never ask Richardson to stop shooting, especially since he has shown he can knock down the three. Richardson has shown signs of breaking out of his slump the last couple of games, going 8-of-18 at Utah and Detroit, including 5-of-11 on 3-pointers.

Since moving into the starting lineup, Winslow is averaging 25.9 minutes per game and with the team’s depth, he rarely will play 30 minutes.

Just twice in his five starts has Winslow played more than 10 minutes in the second half, 19:13 at Phoenix and 12:23 at Golden State. Sunday’s loss in Detroit was his fewest in the second half in those five games, 7:27. Winslow’s minutes late in games will be situational but with James Johnson and Tyler Johnson coming off the bench more often than not he will not be on the court late in close games.

[Check out where Miami Heat grew during their longest road trip of the season]

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