The Miami Heat have won five straight games and one of the more surprising developments is the sudden consistency Tyler Johnson has brought offensively during that stretch.
This offseason, Johnson was one of a few players the Heat front office made a concerted effort to move in a trade. Ultimately, the combination of Johnson’s previous lack of production and $19 million cap hit per season over the final two seasons of his contract made it nearly impossible for the Heat to find a trade partner. Now, Johnson has started to play close to the $19 million value the organization agreed to match when the guard signed a back-loaded 4-year $50 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets.
Sunday’s 115-91 win over the Orlando Magic was the 500th career victory for Erik Spoelstra and Dwyane Wade’s final game in Orlando barring an unlikely matchup between the teams in the playoffs. However, Johnson ended up stealing the show after a roaring 20-point third quarter in which he made five three-pointers, putting the Heat solidly in the driver’s seat.
Johnson finished with 25 points, a season high for the 26-year-old.
In the past five games, Johnson has been impressive, averaging 16.6 points per game, which is second on the team during that stretch behind just Josh Richardson. When playing at least 26 minutes, though, Johnson is averaging what would be a team-high 19 points per game.
Johnson has been very efficient from the field as well during that stretch. Johnson’s made 46.4% of his shots from the field and is shooting 50% from three-point range as well in the past five games. Despite being juggled between the starting lineup and coming off of the bench, Johnson has been one of the few consistencies offensively for the Heat, outside a 7-point dud against the Milwaukee Bucks where he played just 18 minutes in what was the fifth-lowest scoring game of the season for the team.
Johnson’s role within the team has increased due to the absence of Goran Dragic and the continued recovery process of Dion Waiters. Johnson originally wasn’t even supposed to start Sunday’s game against the Magic but was called upon after Rodney McGruder was a late scratch due to an illness. As he has over the past few games, Johnson certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
Thanks to an offensive explosion by Johnson and the Heat, the team now finds themselves at 16-16 and tied for 6th-place in the Eastern Conference with the Charlotte Hornets.
It remains to be seen just when Waiters will return to action for the Heat and what capacity he will be used in at the beginning of his return. For the time being, though, Johnson will continue to have his chances at being one of the top scorers for what is a fairly balanced offense.
The Heat next play on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, who own the best record in the NBA at 25-10. The clash in Miami will be a nice test for the Heat as a team, but also for Johnson to see if he will be able to keep his recent hot streak going.