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Miami Heat’s overlooked hero in the one-point Los Angeles Lakers win may surprise you

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Goran Dragic rightfully deserves credit for his game-winning clutch basket, but he’s wasn’t the only hero.

NBA: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

In the thrilling Miami Heat victory, or disappointing Los Angeles Lakers loss for California fans, the game-winning basket by Goran Dragic, along with his game high 30 points, cemented his role as the primary driver for the win.

Looking back at the numbers for the game, another player’s contributions jumps out as a vital cog in Miami’s single-point comeback triumph: Justise Winslow.

How could a player who went 1 for 8 from the field impact the game in a meaningful and winning fashion?

The answer comes his new role as a facilitator and creator on offense, and a lockdown defender on the other end against the Lakers.

For the game as a whole, Winslow had the top Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, Net Rating and Assist Ratio.

Net Ratings For Game

Player OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg AST Ratio
Player OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg AST Ratio
Justise Winslow 106.1 74.4 31.7 33.3
Wayne Ellington 92.8 79.8 13 10.6
Kelly Olynyk 87.4 85.4 2.1 0
Bam Adebayo 96.3 94.4 1.9 15
Tyler Johnson 86.6 85.6 0.9 26.7
Goran Dragic 99.6 102.9 -3.3 7.5
Rodney McGruder 98.9 106.8 -7.9 12.5
Josh Richardson 87.9 99.9 -12 25.2
James Johnson 84.9 98.2 -13.3 28
TOTALS 90.1 77.9 12.2 20.2

Despite making only one basket, his leading assist ratio shows his passes, with zero turnovers by the way, directly lead to teammates putting points on the scoreboard, and unexpectedly gave him an OffRtg over a 100.

Notice also that the top three players in both NetRtg and DefRtg came off the bench to stifle the Los Angeles team when it mattered.

In the crucial fourth quarter, which saw a 3-point lead dwindle to a 1-point win, Winslow’s contributions clearly made a difference, as his +50.3 NetRtg dwafted all other Miami players.

Net Ratings 4th Quarter

Player OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg AST Ratio
Player OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg AST Ratio
Justise Winslow 122.4 72.0 50.3 50.0
Bam Adebayo 104.5 92.9 11.6 29.1
Rodney McGruder 66.7 69.4 -2.8 0.0
Josh Richardson 80.3 83.5 -3.3 33.3
Wayne Ellington 84.0 91.9 -8.0 0.0
Kelly Olynyk 84.0 96.3 -12.4 0.0
Tyler Johnson 100.0 120.0 -20.0 0.0
Goran Dragic 63.6 112.6 -49.0 20.0
James Johnson 0.0 102.5 -102.5 0.0
TOTALS 84.0 91.9 -8.0 19.1

His Assist Ratio of 50 indicted his hand prints were all over the Heat’s flow on offense in the final stages of the game, even if he didn’t make the score himself.

Bam Adebayo was the only other Heat player with a positive NetRtg in the last 12 minutes, as the video below shows Bam’s great iso-defense and rebound set up Dragic’s winning basket, and later Justise and Bam shut down Isaiah Thomas in his last-ditch effort to become a hero.

The clip from the Lakers perspective illustrates areas where Miami needs improvement, but also how important the Heat’s defense, featuring Justise and Bam, was in snapping their 9-game road losing streak.

After the game Lakers head coach Luke Walton complimented Josh Richardson on denying an entry pass to Julius Randle from Lonzo Ball, and in general playing a tougher, more physical game than his team.