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Will Kendrick Nunn return as a starter for the Miami Heat?

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The resounding win over the Indiana Pacers might put Nunn on the bench.

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat overwhelmed the Indiana Pacers 114-92 without Kendrick Nunn. Now the question is how he’ll be used when available. The answer might depend on Miami’s upcoming schedule.

Most likely the path to the NBA Finals runs through the Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, with Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers also possibilities. So how Nunn did perform against those five teams?

His net ratings against them this season are (OffRtg/DefRtg/NetRtg):

  • Pacers 129.4/116.8/12.6
  • Bucks 99.5/103.5/-4.0
  • Raptors 98.9/95.6/3.4
  • Celtics 94.3/101.2/-6.9
  • 76ers 121.3/109/12.3

Nunn did well against the Pacers and 76ers, but struggled offensively versus the Bucks, Raptors and Celtics. However Nunn managed to hold the short Toronto guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet in check. But first Heat must defeat the Pacers and Bucks.

Should the Heat knock out the Bucks in the second round chaos would hit Creme City, because this season it’s NBA Finals or bust for them. Giannis Antetokounmpo might bolt. The supporting cast might seem inadequate. If the the Bucks face the Heat, there’ll be a lot riding on the outcome.

Probably lineups which work best over the entire course of post-season action will be used. Since the Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks aren’t in the bubble results against non-playoff teams such as them don’t matter.

Let’s take take the Bucks for example. Which 5-man lineups (minimum 5 minutes) for the Heat worked best and worst against them?

  • D. Jones Jr., B. Adebayo, J. Butler, G. Dragic, K. Nunn 109.1/40.0/69.1 (best DefRtg and NetRtg)
  • D. Jones Jr., K. Olynyk, A. Iguodala, D. Robinson, T. Herro 138.5/92.3/46.2
  • S. Hill, K. Olynyk, A. Iguodala, T. Herro, K. Nunn 147.1/106.3/40.8 (best OffRtg)

  • B. Adebayo, J. Crowder, K. Olynyk, D. Robinson, K. Nunn 66.7/116.0/-49.3 (worst OffRtg and NetRtg)
  • B. Adebayo, M. Leonard, G. Dragic, T. Herro, K. Nunn 87.5/131.3/-43.8 (worst DefRtg)
  • B. Adebayo, J. Crowder, J. Butler, D. Robinson, K. Nunn 75.0/92.3/-17.3

Nunn is a member of both the best and worst 5-man lineups. The small sample size gives dubious conclusions since the numbers don’t tell who was on the court for the Bucks, i.e. with/without Antetokounmpo. But if the Heat can break even with Antetokounmpo on the floor, and dominate when he’s off then that’s a win.

The path to the NBA Finals is becoming clearer. Now Erik Spoelstra will have to outsmart some of the best coaches in the NBA: Nate McMillan, Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse, Brad Stevens. How does Kendrick Nunn fit in his plans?

Stats from NBA Stats