In their comeback 126-118 win over the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat displayed the same aggressiveness they often have at the beginning of games. As coach Erik Spoelstra said about Jimmy Butler, “Jimmy set the tone from the beginning of the game. It was early assertiveness.” For this game though that energy was supplied by a different cast of characters later in the fourth quarter.
Over the last eight games a surprising group of players had a better point differential in the final quarter than a quintet featuring two All-Stars, according to NBA stats 5-man lineups.
When Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson, Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk shared the floor in the fourth quarter they outscored other teams by 55 points per 100 possessions in three games.
When Dragic, Butler, Iguodala, Crowder, Bam Adebayo were on the court together they were outscored by 125 points per 100 possessions in four games.
One reason could be Robinson and Olynyk space the floor with their 3-point shooting, while teams can pack the paint when Butler and Adebayo are on the court. The numbers show the first group had a FG% of 59% and 41 assists to 8 turnovers. The second cohort had a FG% of 33% and 8 assists to 50 turnovers per 100 possessions.
Undoubtedly the latter group has more talent and will succeed given enough minutes over a game and season. So what can be taken away besides the small sample size? As mentioned before when defenders collapse into the painted area, then assists go down and turnovers go up. The ball stops moving and great or even good shots become difficult to find.
All the five-man lineups during the last 12 minutes of last night’s Heat vs. Mavericks game shows Miami made only one field goal when Olynyk was off the court. The blue hyperlinks bring you to the videos of the points, baskets, rebounds, assists and turnovers during that quarter.
Actually for the entire game that group played only 1 minute less than the starters, 12 versus 13. Interestingly they recorded a plus/minus of 16, while the starters were plus 3, and Dragic/Nunn/Butler/Crowder/Adebayo quintet got outscored by 9 points during their time together.
One play illustrated how the first cohort ran a play so well together that they scored before defenses could recover in time.
While a member of the Heat less than a month, Iguodala in his younger days was athletic like Adebayo. With his championship history, Iguodala hopefully will continue the education of Adebayo and help Butler bring a championship to 601 Biscayne earlier than people expect.
Dre’s days of being a high-flyer and All-NBA defender are past, but he still carries that Mamba mentality. When competing against teams in the playoffs, trying not to lose against dangerous opponents may not be enough to survive. Sending a message of always playing to win, regardless of the score, lets opponents know the Heat are relentless in their pursuit of victory.