Miami Heat need to get Goran Dragic going against Philadelphia’s taller defenders

Miami’s Goran Dragic is defended by Philadelphia’s Robert Covington during the Sixers’ victory in Game 1 of their playoff series in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

PHILADELPHIA – Goran Dragic has had his struggles against the 76ers this season and it continued in Game 1 of the playoffs.

The Heat’s All-Star point guard is averaging 14.2 points, more than three below his average, on .357 shooting in five games this season against Philadelphia, which has found success by sticking 6-foot-9 Robert Covington on the 6-3 Dragic.

As a point guard, Dragic is not used to seeing such length.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recognizes the difficulty Dragic has against Covington, a fifth-year pro out of Tennessee State who went undrafted in 2013. Covington, who led the NBA with 3.9 deflections per game, is a candidate for the All-Defense team.

“We’re going to try to get him a little more space and get him some opportunities to attack,” Spoelstra said about Dragic. “But they’re pretty committed to containing the paint so we’ll have to make some plays to open guys up and keep their defense honest. We certainly want Goran being aggressive and in spots where he’s comfortable.”

Dragic scored 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting in the Heat’s 130-103 Game 1 setback. He had as many turnovers (4) as assists. The Heat and Sixers play Game 2 at 8 p.m. tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

Dragic, 31, made the All-Star team for the first time in his 10-year career this season. He averaged 17.3 points and 4.8 assists while shooting .450 from the field. This season, he led the Heat in scoring 27 times (Josh Richardson was next leading 13 times ), and in assists 35 times. James Johnson led in assists 24 times.

The solution to combating that size, says Dragic, is crisp, detailed ball movement.

“We need to run action with purpose not just to have one pick-and-roll and then the ball stops,” Dragic said Sunday after the Heat’s practice at Temple University.

“We need to move the ball and try to get great triggers. We watched the video. When we didn’t get a trigger we were in trouble, we didn’t move the ball well. With their size, they kind of forced us to take bad shots.”

The Heat’s .449 shooting percent in Game 1 wasn’t awful, but Miami shot just .417 and had just nine of its 25 assists in the second half, when it was outscored 74-43.

Dragic was asked what adjustments he has to make against taller defenders.

“Just be more detailed, try to be more focused when the screen is coming,” he said. “Try to lure him in and kind of make separation and then attack from there.”

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