At times during their preseason victory against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, the Miami Heat ran plays like they were on a football field. Justise Winslow has the body of a wide receiver, and who else to serve him a touchdown pass other than Goran Dragic?
Dragic can slice and dice through defenses for points in the paint himself, but there’s a “Tom Brady” in him with unexpected passes to open teammates.
Not to be outdone, Dion Waiters runs the team like a Cam Newton, with hand-offs, passes and quarterback sneaks into the end zone.
A new twist to the Heat playbook seems to be hand-offs to Hassan Whiteside and Winslow, who are any defensive lines’ worst nightmare. Newcomer Luke Babbitt made a pretty one to Justise early in the game.
Luke Babbitt started and knocked down 4 of 5 from downtown last night in his Miami HEAT debut! pic.twitter.com/mydE16kaRh— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 5, 2016
Dragic and Waiters may yet become one of the NBA’s top play-making tandems, since they both can pass, do hand-offs and take it to the rack, if their receivers are covered. They both have gravity, that is, helpers on defense collapse onto them leaving the rim exposed for uncontested baskets by open teammates.
Last season’s iso-buckets and turn-around jumpers were missing, for the most part, from Tuesday’s game. In their place hand-offs and passes, to open receivers, ruled the evening.
Derrick Williams looked lost with a ton of bad habits built up from being on losing teams. James Johnson and Waiters fit right in because each came from winning organizations. Williams has the skills, but the Wizards game showed he needed to replace losing habits, such as poor shot selection, with winning plays.
Udonis Haslem could have been a great NFL lineman with his crushing picks that set Waiters, Dragic and Winslow loose. The Heat looked like they were having more fun setting screens and dishing out assists than playing iso-ball, which has four teammates standing and watching them.
Whiteside, Willie Reed, James Johnson, Williams, Haslem, Josh McRoberts are tall targets for receptions. Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson can score from range or in the paint. Dragic, Waiters, Beno Udrih, Briante Weber (who got the ball from a foot taller player in a jump ball) are the floor generals to orchestrate the show.
Miami has the Dolphins, but the best quarterbacks may be in AmericanAirlines Arena. This version of the Miami Heat has no use for iso-ball, but looks more suited to run sets almost like a football team featuring passes and quick hand-offs. However far-fetched the analogy, the style differed markedly from previous versions of the Heat featuring heavy doses of turn-around jump shots.