Five Stars is a Hot Hot Hoops exclusive where we dig into the box score of each Heat game and pick apart the numbers under the numbers. The top five players are the Five Stars, regardless of which team they player for. I used the GameScore metric, with a slight adjustment for plus/minus to rank the players. This article is about Miami’s 104-89 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.
Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 18.2
The Great Wall of Whiteside blocked four shots in 32:57, the 11th time he eclipsed that total this season. He’s also earned 44 double-doubles now, last night with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Rony Seikaly holds the Heat record in that category, with 53 in 1991-92. Whiteside has a really good chance of passing that down the stretch this season. Last night, he made four-of-eight from the field and four-of-four from the stripe, the second time this season that he’s made all of his freebies with four or more attempts. He earned a plus-18 rating and a 15.95 PER in his time on the court to land in the Five Stars for the 39th time this season with his 14th First Star performance.
You better respect them because they’re here to stay. - Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, speaking to the Heat’s staying power over the past two months.
Goran Dragic (MIA) 16.7
For once, a member of the Heat sustained facial trauma, and Tyler Johnson it wasn’t.
Goran Dragic posted a game-high estimated PER of 28.73 in just 17:25 before leaving with an injury to his right eye. Before he left, he did enough to earn Second Star honors to make his team-best 40th appearance in the Five Stars. Dragic made five-of-nine from the field including one-of-two from deep, draining four-of-five from the charity stripe and adding two helpers, two boards, and a plus-14 rating with his 15 points. After the injury, he eventually returned to the bench plus a shiner. Some say he may miss Miami’s next matchup, but knowing this guy, I doubt it.
Dion Waiters (MIA) 15.1
Waiters served the Raptors with a game-high 20 points in 33:13 for the Heat, making four-of-six from outside and two-of-four from closer distance. He was successful on only half of his eight free throw attempts, the 16th time in his 37 games this season that he’s finished at 50% or below from the stripe. I mean, we’ll take it. Anyone who is looking for sore points with the Heat right now is really picking at straw. Last night our playoff odds improved to 57.2%, passing the Milwaukee Bucks (56.4%), closing on the Indiana Pacers (70.3%) and the Detroit Pistons (69.9%), and leaving the Chicago Bulls far behind (34.6%). But I digress.
Back to Waiters, he had a club-high-tying five assists (with James Johnson), a steal, a block, a rebound, a plus-6 rating, and a 15.06 PER in his 19th Five Stars appearance.
Delon Wright (TOR) 13.8
Wright was Toronto’s sole representative in the Five Stars, as the Heat fall just short of their fifth “sweep” of the top five players in the last two months. His 19.16 PER, impressive though it was, ranked second on the Raptors to bench-big Pascal Siakam’s 23.65. Wright appeared for the Raptors off the bench for 25:11, and made five-of-eight shots from the field and three-of-three from the stripe. He had three helpers, three rebounds, three steals, and a plus-2 rating to go with his 13 points.
Tyler Johnson (MIA) 13.0
Johnson edged out his brother, “Sixth Star” James (11.0) for the Fifth Star. Academically, the Heat also had the “Seventh Star” as well, with Luke Babbitt (7.8). As always, Tyler came off the bench for 26:42. He scored a team-second-best 16 points on six-of-12 shooting, missing his only three pointer but bagging all four of his foul shot attempts. In his 24th Five Star appearance, he added three rebounds, three assists, a plus-9 rating and a 15.10 estimated PER.
We know where we started at. There’s no pressure. - Johnson
Toronto’s Fred VanVleet made just one-of-10 shots from the floor, missing all three of his long-distance shots and making three free throws. He found a way to stay involved though, with four rebounds and an assist, somehow finishing at plus-1. He also committed two fouls and turned the ball over twice in just over 20 minutes.
For the season, Miami is now outscoring their opponents by an average of 102.4 to 101.7. That’s a far cry from the 11-30 club we thought we were following. The only major category the Heat is still hurting on is free throw percentage, their 69.9% success rate ranks last. But hey, 5.7 blocks per game is the fourth best in the league.
Five Stars Standings
Hassan Whiteside 39 266
Goran Dragic 40 243
Tyler Johnson 24 140
Dion Waiters 19 126
James Johnson 23 107
Wayne Ellington 8 43
Willie Reed 7 33
Josh Richardson 5 26
Rodney McGruder 6 21
Justise Winslow 4 16
Derrick Williams 1 3
Josh McRoberts 1 1
Luke Babbitt 1 1
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