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Five Stars: Glimmers of Hope

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When a team has a first three-quarters of a game like the Heat did on New Year’s Day, sometimes you need to dig deep for bright spots.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat dropped a 93-83 decision to the Dallas Mavericks on New Years Day.

It wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Heat didn’t hit a three pointer until midway through the third quarter, and ended up sinking just 21 percent of their shots from long-distance in total, going seven-for-33 overall.

Our guys trailed by a 73-53 score going into the fourth quarter, as nearly none of the players in Miami’s rotation could get into a solid shooting groove. On the bright side, they only turned the ball over 14 times, as opposed to the 22 they were guilty of in each of their two contests against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Five Stars is a series where I award Stars based on each players performance in each game, ranked regardless of team affiliation. In the event of a tie between opposing players, the tie goes to the player for the winning team. Mostly, I use John Hollinger’s formula for GameScore, with a very small adjustment added for each player’s plus-minus rating. Here’s today’s Stars.

First Star

Luka Dončić - Dallas Mavericks (19.9)

On first blush, most casual viewers wouldn’t need a spreadsheet to tell them that third-season veteran Luka Dončić was the standout performer in Friday night’s contest. In 36 minutes, he led all scorers with 27 points on nine-of-22 shooting, despite him hitting just three-of-10 from downtown. He also made six from the stripe out of nine attempts, with a game-high 15 boards and a game-high-tying seven assists. He finished at plus-12, and won the First Star despite turning the ball over a game-high five times.

Second Star

Bam Adebayo - Miami Heat (17.9)

Despite playing for the losing club tonight, fourth-year vet Bam Adebayo matched Dončić in “raw” GameScore, each turning in an 18.7. Adebayo led the Heat with 19 points and with 11 rebounds. He also added two assists and a game-high four steals in just over three quarters of play, shooting eight-of-12 from the field and making three-of-four from the line.

Third Star

Tim Hardaway Jr. - Dallas Mavericks (11.3)

Hard to believe, but Tim Hardaway Junior is now starting his eighth NBA season. He graded out as the number three star in Friday’s game despite hitting just six-of-18 shots from the field, including three-of-10 from outside. Junior was three-of-four from the stripe, with three assists, two steals, two rebounds, and one blocked shot. He also finished with a game-best plus-17 rating in a game-high 38 minutes.

Fourth Star

Avery Bradley - Miami Heat (10.1)

NBA: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In just under 18 minutes, 11-year man Avery Bradley was one of only three Heat players to finish with a shooting percentage above 50 percent. Pro tip: they’re all here in the Five Stars. Bradley made five-of-eight shots, including half of his four three-point shot attempts and also making three-of-four from the foul line. Bradley scored a Heat-second 15 points, but unfortunately was also guilty of five fouls despite his limited playing time, which — cause or effect — limited his playing time.

Fifth Star

Precious Achiuwa - Miami Heat (9.4)

Precious Achiuwa accomplished a lot in just under a quarter of the game, scoring 10 in 11:59. His PER, by far, was the best in the game, with an approximate mark of 29.7. That’s all star caliber, by the way. He made three-of-four from the field, not attempting a three-pointer, and also drained four-of-six from the charity stripe. Achiuwa pulled down six boards, adding an assist.

Honorable Mention

James Johnson - Dallas Mavericks (approximate PER of 18.0)

Heat alum James Johnson scored eight points in only 12 minutes, going three-for-five including both of his three-point attempts. He pulled down three defensive boards, dished one assist, and added two steals.

Dishonorable Mention

Jimmy Butler - Miami Heat (approximate PER of minus-1.8)

In his first game back from a bum ankle that kept him out of the Milwaukee series, Jimmy Butler showed that maybe he should have taken another game to recover. He missed all six of his shots, turning in a game-worst minus-18 plus-minus rating. Butler turned the ball over three times in 27 minutes, with two steals, two assists, three rebounds, and one personal foul.

Seasonal Five Star Standings

Bam Adebayo - 20
Goran Dragić - 19
Tyler Herro - 6
Duncan Robinson - 4
Jimmy Butler - 3
Avery Bradley - 3
Kelly Olynyk - 2
Precious Achiuwa - 1