Erik Spoelstra says Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters deserve more foul calls on drives to the basket

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic drives against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson during the first quarter on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters have already expressed their frustration with the officiating at different points this season. Before Sunday’s game against the Warriors, it was coach Erik Spoelstra’s turn.

Among the 35 players in the NBA averaging at least 10 drives to the basket per game, Dragic owns the seventh-lowest foul rate on penetration attempts at 4.0 percent. Waiters has the 14th-lowest foul rate at 5.8 percent.

“Goran and Dion do have a point. They have a point,” Spoelstra said Sunday after the Heat’s shootaround session. “They are as aggressive and productive of getting into the paint as any two guards in the league.”

As a team, the Heat have the league’s third-lowest foul rate on penetration attempts at 5.2 percent this season. Miami finished last season with the NBA’s lowest foul rate on drives at 10.7 percent.

Dragic and Waiters play a big part in these numbers as the team’s primary attackers.

“They don’t flop,” Spoelstra said of the Heat’s starting backcourt. “They don’t have the nuances of subtly drawing fouls. They drop their head, they drop their shoulders, and it is an aggressive drive into the paint.

“You see them colliding with bodies all the time, and it’s not just at the rim. Now, Goran gets more adjustments and hits at the rim than any player that comes to mind, and he rarely gets that call.”

One way to explain the lack of foul calls is that a lot of the Heat’s drives aren’t ending with a shot attempt. Miami’s drive-and-kick offense has it passing on 37.3 percent of its drives, second-most in the NBA.

But still, Spoelstra understands his players’ displeasure.

“I’m not giving them an excuse, but I understand their frustration,” Spoelstra said of Dragic and Waiters. “Because it’s real. They get to the paint. It’s hard to tell them something rationally why they’re not getting calls. I don’t know.

“I want them to continue to play, to be that determined to get into the paint, because they make so many good things happen for the team. And then, eventually, hopefully, they’ll start getting the recognition and the deserved respect in order to go to the line a few more times.”

[Now at 11-12 through 23 games, Miami Heat still searching for answers]

[Five takeaways: Heat hang with Warriors early before being blown out in third quarter]

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