Five takeaways: Miami Heat’s offensive surge continues in blowout win over New York Knicks

The Miami Heat’s Goran Dragic looks to shoot under pressure from the New York Knicks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. in the first quarter at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — The Heat had to win a lot of games in spite of their offense before the All-Star break. Now, Miami is winning games because of its offense.

The Heat’s offensive surge continued Wednesday in a 119-98 blowout victory over the struggling Knicks (26-46) at AmericanAirlines Arena. It marked the 14th time Miami (39-33) has scored more than 100 points over its past 16 games.

“We’re in a great place,” said Heat point guard Goran Dragic, who finished with 14 points and five assists. “We’re playing really well offensively and defensively. I think tonight’s game was perfect, finally one of those games that we’re not close. We won with a big margin. We need this.”

Just two nights after setting a new franchise record for points scored in a game with 149 in Monday’s double overtime win over the Nuggets, the Heat were sharp on that end of the court again with 119 points on 55.6 percent shooting and just eight turnovers.

Six Heat players finished with double-digit points.

Kelly Olynyk led the charge for Miami with 22 points, five rebounds and a career-high 10 assists to go with zero turnovers. Tyler Johnson finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

Enes Kanter scored a team-high 23 for the Knicks, with Michael Beasley contributing 22 points.

The Heat remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and will make the playoffs, barring an epic collapse with 10 regular-season games remaining. With the Bucks, Pacers and Wizards all losing Wednesday, Miami is 1.5 games ahead of No. 8 Milwaukee, and 1.5 games behind No. 6 Washington and two games behind No. 5 Indiana and No. 4 Philadelphia.

The Heat were without Hassan Whiteside (hip) for the sixth consecutive game and Dwyane Wade (hamstring) for the fifth consecutive game.

Wednesday’s win marks the end of a quick two-game homestand. The Heat now hit the road for a two-game trip that begins Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder and ends Sunday against the Indiana Pacers.

Here are our five takeaways …

Where did this Heat offense come from?: The Heat have looked like a different offensive team since the All-Star break. Miami ranked 25th out of 30 teams in offensive rating (103.1 points per 100 possessions) before the break. A lot has changed since then. The Heat entered Wednesday with the seventh-best offensive rating in the league (110.8 points per 100 possessions) since the break. That upward trend continued against the Knicks, as Miami shot 55.6 percent from the field and committed just eight turnovers. Which teams have been better offensively since All-Star Weekend? Entering Wednesday, only the Rockets, Raptors, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and 76ers.

“Smoother and we’re playing faster,” Dragic said of the Heat’s improved offense. “Especially those pitch aheads. We try to push the tempo a little bit. We feel comfortable with that. We tried to play a little bit faster at the beginning of the season, but we had a lot of turnovers. So, hopefully now everything comes together really nice. We have players who can play fast, who can play slow. We just have a great chemistry on offense.”

Home is where the wins are: Home-court advantage wasn’t much of an advantage for the Heat to start the season, but it is now. Including Wednesday’s victory over the Knicks, Miami has won nine of its past 10 games at AmericanAirlines Arena. This streak of home success began in Dwyane Wade’s season debut with the Heat, when they defeated the Bucks in Miami on Feb. 9. Before this stretch and before Wade’s arrival, the Heat were 13-12 at home this season. Six of Miami’s final 10 regular-season games come at home.

“It is important,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Heat’s recent success at home. “All of the best teams, top teams, have great home records. That was out intention, even early on we weren’t able to do it how we wanted to, but we are growing in a lot of those games and you could see our team getting better. And our team has really taken ownership of that to really come out with a better and more consistent disposition here, in front of our home fans.”

The Olynyk signing looks good right now: When the Heat signed Kelly Olynyk to a free-agent contract worth $50 million over four seasons last summer, some wondered … why? Olynyk is showing you why. The reserve center turned in another strong performance Wednesday with 22 points, five rebounds and a career-high 10 assists to go with zero turnovers. Over the past two games, Olynyk has recorded 52 points on 19-of-27 shooting to go with 13 rebounds, 16 assists to go with just two turnovers. Plus, the Heat are just a better team when Olynyk is on the court. Period. Miami has outscored opponents by 228 this season with Olynyk playing, which is the top plus-minus on the team. If you doubted this offseason signing a few months ago, you probably aren’t anymore.

“He adds so many dimensions to your offense because of his skill level and his shooting ability and his creativity,” Spoelstra said of Olynyk. “So it makes your shooters more open. It makes your attackers have better driving lanes. And a lot of things that the defense has to negotiate through when he’s on the court and he’s playing at a high level. And that’s where he has been building and trending to. So it’s the ultimate compliment when guys want to play with you and you make other guys look better.”

A historic season from 3-point range: The 3-pointer has become a big part of the Heat’s offense. Want proof? Miami set a new team record for 3-pointers attempted in a single season Wednesday. The Heat have taken 2,222 threes, surpassing the previous record set last season of 2,213. Miami is also four away from setting a new team record for 3-pointers made in a single season. Wayne Ellington has played a big part in all of this. He became the third player in Heat history to make 200 or more 3-pointers in a season on Wednesday, joining Tim Hardaway — who did it in 1996-97 — and Damon Jones — who did it in 2004-05.

“They’re shooting the right ones,” Spoelstra said of the Heat’s 3-pointers. “You get that analytics question all the time, ‘You just want to shoot a bunch of threes?’ It depends. You got to have the right guys and you have to shoot the right ones. You just don’t want to come down and shoot contested threes or ill-advised threes. For us, it has to come within the flow, inside out.”

Standings watch: With the Heat still battling for playoff positioning, scoreboard watching has become a daily task. After Wednesday’s win, the Heat will remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. But with the Bucks, Pacers and Wizards all losing Wednesday, Miami is 1.5 games ahead of No. 8 Milwaukee, and 1.5 games behind No. 6 Washington and two games behind No. 5 Indiana and No. 4 Philadelphia.

[Bill Simmons took a shot at Dwyane Wade on Twitter, and Wade had a response]

[Kelly Olynyk reacts to Denver coach Michael Malone saying the Heat big man, ‘traveled all over the place’]

[Erik Spoelstra would like the Heat locker room to be a Stat Sheet-Free Zone]

[Heat injury update: Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside definitely out for Knicks game]

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