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Goran Dragic proves worth in playoffs

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Dragic averaged 22.8 points per game in the Heat’s first-round sweep of the Pacers.

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Round One, Game Three Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The last time the Miami Heat advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs, Goran Dragic scored 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting in Game 7 against the Charlotte Hornets. Dragic was a little less than a year removed from signing a five-year, $90 million contract.

Now, Dragic is in the final year of that deal. And he’s showing that he still has a lot left in the tank.

After spending much of the 2019-20 season as the anchor of the Heat’s second unit, the 2018 All Star moved into the starting lineup for the Heat’s first-round playoff matchup. Even while averaging 34 minutes per game in the postseason, the 34-year-old Dragic has delivered in the fourth quarter to protect Heat leads.

In the Heat’s four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers, Dragic averaged 22.8 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field, including 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. How many people thought he’d do that before the series? He’s connecting on long-range shots, using his crafty play to get into the lane and even serving as a good help defender.

The veteran has also offered invaluable leadership to the Heat in the playoffs. Along with Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Udonis Haslem, Dragic has helped mentor Miami’s young core.

Dragic has played so well that Dwyane Wade has called for the Heat to re-sign him on Twitter. (Back in March, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that “an associate of Dragic expects a large one-year offer from Miami.”) Butler has praised him.

Going into training camp last year, most Heat fans would have considered a first-round playoff win a successful season. Now, Miami will go into a likely second-round series against the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks as an underdog with a puncher’s chance. Coming off an injury-riddled 2018-19 season, Dragic’s resurgence this year has proven a vital part of this season’s success.