The Miami Heat’s stay in the 2018 playoffs was brief. The Heat were bounced from the postseason by the upstart Philadelphia 76ers in five games in a series that was both one-sided and competitive, depending on which half you are referencing.
While the Heat either led or were tied at halftime of all five games, the Sixers outscored them by an average of 15.6 points in the second half of the five games.
Not the recipe to win in the postseason.
The Heat, like every team, can look back and point to some things that worked and some that didn’t.
So, we bring you the achievers and the underachievers for the Heat in this series.
Justise Winslow: Winslow has been a maligned player throughout his career in Miami, many wanting for more from a No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was trending in the right direction the last couple of months of the season and continued that direction in this series.
Winslow averaged 9.8 points and 6.6 rebounds. He didn’t shoot well (.357) but he left an imprint on every game, especially the Heat’s Game 2 win when his defense overshadowed in 2-point performance. And just as importantly he played with confidence and aggressiveness, showing an ability to knock down the 3-pointer, though not settling for the outside shot, and attacking the rim. That said, are the Heat now more apt to trade the 6-foot-7 forward or do they view him as a more important piece to their future?
Dwyane Wade: This goes without saying. Some believe this was Wade’s swan song after 15 seasons but that is something we will not know for months. What we do know is Wade proved he still can play and could be an important piece both on the court and as a locker room leader if he decides to return for a 16th season.
Wade’s value to this team since returning Feb. 8 was huge. He became the centerpiece to a solid bench and made the most of his limited minutes, especially in crunch time. He had two vintage performances in the series – 28 points in Game 2 and 25 points in Game 4 – and finished as the Heat’s second leading scorer behind Goran Dragic, averaging 16.6 points while chipping in with 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Others who had their moments: Dragic led the Heat with 18.6 points and added 4.6 assists per game. And while his scoring was important for a team that at times found it difficult to score, the Sixers shut him down the fourth quarter of the entire series, limiting him to just 10 points in the five fourth quarters combined.
James Johnson was active, aggressive and he relied on his versatile skills give the Heat some offense. Johnson averaged 12.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists, while shooting 54.8 percent. The biggest disappointment was his defense, allowing Ben Simmons to shoot 58.3 percent against him.
Hassan Whiteside: You can’t start the list of players who were non-factors in this series with anybody other than the Heat’s embattled 7-foot center. Whiteside averaged 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds while logging just 15.4 minutes per game. And while some would blame coach Erik Spoelstra for giving up on Whiteside, the truth is throughout much of the season Whiteside never gave Spoelstra any reason to trust him. Twice in this series, including the Sixers’ Game 5 clincher on Tuesday, Whiteside came out early in the second half and never returned.
Now the Heat have a serious issue moving forward. Their highest paid player – Whiteside is due $52.5 million the next two years, the final two of the $98 million deal he signed two summers ago – is unhappy and is not shy about venting his frustration through the media – he was fined once by the organization this season for doing so – but his value on the trade market is at an all-time low.
Wayne Ellington: The Heat’s long-distance threat had a terrific season setting the franchise record for 3-pointers in a season (227) and the NBA mark for the most threes while playing as a reserve (218).
But Ellington never could get on a roll in the playoffs and although he shot 40 percent on threes he really was a non-factor. Ellington made 12 threes in the series, but just one coming in the fourth quarters, which the Sixers controlled the entire series. Wade said before Game 5 his biggest disappointment as the leader of the second team was never being able to get Ellington on a roll in the series.
Team defense: The Heat lean on their defense as the centerpiece of their culture. But that defense certainly let them down in this series. Miami’s surrendered 114.2 points per game and had a defensive rating of 109.6 in the five games compared to giving up 102.9 points with a rating of 104.0 during the regular season.
The Heat allowed the two highest scoring games in their playoff history, 130 in the opener and 125 in Game 3, while Philadelphia converted 18 3-pointers in each game. And the Sixers blitzed Miami for 74 points in the second half of that Game 1 blowout. Philadelphia had four players shoot at least 50 percent in the series.
Other disappointments: Tyler Johnson played hurt after injuring his thumb early in Game 3 but Miami needed more than six points per game from their starting shooting guard, especially with Whiteside struggling. Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson combined to give Miami fewer than 20 points per game.
The Sixers led the league in rebounding during the regular season but the Heat were pounded on the boards the entire series. Philadelphia had a 250-205 rebounding edge for the series, including 18 more offensive rebounds. That advantage led to the Sixers totaling 81 second chance points.