The Heat are asking a lot from Josh Richardson, and he’s been delivering lately

Miami Heat forward Josh Richardson (0) drives past Los Angeles Clippers forward Jamil Wilson (13) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Miami. Miami won the game 90-85, with Richardson scoring 28. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

The Heat continue to hover around the .500 mark.

Through 30 games, Miami stands at 15-15. The Heat face the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday before returning to Miami for a four-game homestand.

Here are five tidbits of info from the Heat’s first 30 games of the season …

* The Heat are asking Josh Richardson to do a lot. Richardson is playing a team-high 32.9 minutes per game and ranks 28th in the league with 986 total minutes played this season. Why is Richardson playing so many minutes? Because he’s been one of the Heat’s most effective players this season. The 24-year-old is averaging 17.3 points on 56.3 percent shooting from the field and 56.1 percent shooting from 3-point range, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in nine games in December. Richardson has also been Miami’s top perimeter defender this season, as he’s limiting players he’s defending to 38.5 percent shooting (6.2 percent worse than their combined average shooting percentage). All of these numbers seem to indicate the Heat made the right decision in signing Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension this offseason.

“J-Rich is playing very good basketball on both ends of the court,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Monday’s loss to the Hawks. “So, from an energy standpoint, you’re talking about a guy who’s tasked with the best perimeter player every single night and then have incredible energy on the other end to get your team organized and also make some plays for the team. And he just continues to gain confidence. We want to fuel that and see where that can go. But I like the place that he’s in right now.”

* The Heat haven’t beaten many winning teams, but they have made the most of their games against weaker opponents. Just four of Miami’s 15 wins this season have come against teams that currently have a winning record — a win over the Pacers on Oct. 21, a win over the Wizards on Nov. 17, a win over the Celtics on Nov. 22 and a win over the Timberwolves on Nov. 24. On the other side of the spectrum, the Heat are 11-2 against teams that currently own a losing record, with the only two losses coming against the Magic on opening night and the Hawks on Monday.

* Goran Dragic’s numbers are down after he put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2016-17, when he averaged 20.3 points on 47.5 percent shooting and 5.8 assists. Dragic is averaging 16.6 points on 44.4 percent shooting and 4.4 assists in 29 games this season. One of the areas that Dragic is struggling most with this year has been finishing on drives. After making 52.8 percent of his shots that came on drives last season, he’s making just 42.5 percent of those shots this season.

* The Heat have posted a 90-76 record (winning percentage of .542) in games center Hassan Whiteside has played in over the past three seasons dating back to 2015-16. Without him during that three-year span, the Heat have a 15-14 record (winning percentage of .517). Miami is 7-8 without Whiteside this season, as he has now missed 15 games with two different bone bruises on his left knee.

* Dion Waiters owns a team-high usage of rate of 36.8 percent in clutch situations — defined by the NBA as a game that has a margin of five points or fewer inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Nobody on the Heat is even close to Waiters in this category, as James Johnson ranks second with a usage rate of 24.3 percent in clutch situations. Dragic ranks fourth with a usage rate of 19.3 percent in clutch situations. Is Waiters doing too much at the end of close games? Well, he’s been good in these situations as he’s shooting 52.9 percent in the clutch. (Usage rate is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while they are on the floor)

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