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5 Comments from Media Session with Spoelstra, Crowder, Adebayo

The Miami Heat closed out the series with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, and are officially in the Eastern Conference Finals. Erik Spoelstra, Jae Crowder, and Bam Adebayo talked with some media today about the chance of a Finals appearance and more. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra talked about the improvements from all of their young guys while in the bubble. He said, “They’ve gotten better every single month…High pressure situations certainly helps their confidence.” When talking about the young guys, a lot is referring to Heat’s rookie Tyler Herro. He also mentioned that a big part of Herro’s improvement have come from the support of their veterans. I’ve mentioned quite a few times in the past that Goran Dragic has been a huge help for Tyler. We continually see more of Goran in Tyler’s game every game he plays.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Jae Crowder spoke about the chances of this Heat team reaching the NBA finals. He said, “Honestly I feel we have a great chance to do it. But it falls on us. We are the only team that can stop us right now.” This is indeed the truth. As I mentioned before, Miami must totally forget about the last two tough performances, and press the reset button. Since if they get into their own heads, that’s the only way they can be beaten. Jae Crowder knows what it takes to win playoff games, which is why he will be key in this next series.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Bam Adebayo spoke a little about the thing that Heat fans love to hear about. Heat culture. He said, “You can only understand it if you’re in it. So for the people trying to figure it out, you can only figure it out if you’re in it.” The thing about Heat culture is that they’re not formed into that mindset when they arrive. The guys they acquire have had that mentality their whole lives. That’s a big reason Pat Riley puts so much trust in John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats, since they hold their players to a high standard as well.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Bam Adebayo was also asked about some of the award voting that he’s been in the conversations of. He said, “I don’t care about Most Improved Player if we win a championship. Because I’ll have a ring.” This answer seemed sort of familiar. When Jimmy Butler was asked about his shooting struggles early in the bubble, he said that they won’t worry about that if he wins a championship. This is another clear indication of that Heat culture. This team shares a mutual mindset, and it’s a winning one.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Bam Adebayo finishes off the session talking about his main focus heading into the next round. He said that it’s mainly about cutting down the turnovers. This will be an absolute key for the series, since you can’t give a talented team like Boston or Toronto easy points. He also mentioned that they have the capability of getting to a whole other level defensively. He said, “I don’t think we’ve played a whole 48 minutes yet.” And now tonight’s the night Miami finds out their match-up, which Bam mentions he will be watching very closely, since he can see “some of their tendencies.”

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Late Loss to Milwaukee in Game Four

The Miami Heat came up short against the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, with a score of 118-115. After Giannis Antetokounmpo went out with an injury, Khris Middleton stepped up and ultimately led the Bucks to a win. Here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: Giannis Antetokounmpo comes out the gate hungry, but ultimately goes out with injury.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was playing with a purpose out the gate, scoring 19 points in only 11 minutes. But eventually, stepped awkwardly on his injured right ankle, which put him out for the remainder of the game. This consequently fell on the supporting cast of the Milwaukee Bucks. As I’ve mentioned during the series, the only way for the Bucks to compete is if the rest of the team shows up. And after Giannis went out, George Hill and Eric Bledsoe stepped up to finish the second quarter, which put them up 2 at the half. Khris Middleton also stepped up for Milwaukee in the third quarter, scoring 21 in that stretch. He iced the game with a late three to put the game away.

#2: Jae Crowder doesn’t get enough credit for his elite shooting abilties.

Jae Crowder has clearly been a key piece for this Heat team all season, but especially in the bubble. First off, he deserves major credit for his ability to guard Giannis the whole series, which is a tough task in itself. He brings physicality on the defensive end on every possession, which further proves the fact that he’s a Miami Heat type player. And now to his offense. He has continued to be one of Miami’s most consistent and trusted offensive players in the postseason, especially with his shooting. Milwaukee is basically daring Jae to shoot threes for some reason, which definitely benefits Miami. And his on-court chemistry with Jimmy Butler has been clear in this series, since they constantly bounce off each other for offensive sparks.

#3: Miami’s bench unit struggles on the offensive end.

One of Miami’s biggest strengths and advantages this season has been their talented depth on the roster. Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk, Andre Iguodala, and others usually give Miami a huge offensive spark, but that wasn’t the case today. Miami’s bench scored 5 points in the first half, which ultimately led to Miami trailing by two at the half. What sets the Heat apart from others is that there is no drop off when their bench enters the game. With others, that’s not the case. But the problem is that if Miami’s bench doesn’t totally show up, they usually struggle. Today, their bench ended up scoring 17 points, with most coming from Tyler Herro at the end of the fourth quarter.

#4: Bam Adebayo is special. Very special.

It’s evident that Bam is the most impactful player on the floor at all times, due to all of the small things he does so well. He’s proved to be an absolute force throughout this whole series around the rim, but what everyone has been waiting for is his mid-range jump shot. And well, not only was he attempting these shots, he was making them. His confidence with the ball in his hands seems to be getting better and better. And with Giannis going out, this also opened up Miami’s offense for Bam inside. And once the defense began to key on him, this led to him utilizing his unique play-making ability, which is clearly his biggest strength. Bam’s ability to take over a game in so many ways was on full display today.

#5: Although a tough outcome, Miami’s in good shape.

The Miami Heat may have lost this game in a tough fashion, but it definitely wasn’t their best performance. Other than Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, and Jae Crowder’s good games, there’s wasn’t much contribution from anybody else on the offensive end. As mentioned before, Miami’s bench didn’t show up today, scoring fourteen points. And most importantly, Jimmy Butler wasn’t able to get in a rhythm with the ball in his hands. Although all of this seems problematic, Miami won’t have these scoring issues many times, which means their shouldn’t be much worry heading into game five. And there’s just not much you can do with a scorching hot Khris Middleton.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Crowder, Dragic

The Miami Heat had another early practice on Thursday, following Wednesday’s crazy finish against the Milwaukee Bucks. Erik Spoelstra most likely focused on late game execution today in practice, since it was pretty choppy for Miami down the stretch. Anyway, here’s what was said in today’s media session…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra mentioned Goran Dragic’s winning mentality that was displayed yesterday. He said, “He’s one of the more skilled, experienced winners in this league.” It’s been pretty clear that Goran has yet to have a bad game in the playoffs thus far. He has the ability to attack the rim at will, which he constantly uses his backboard floater, and also his elite shooting ability makes him that much more of a threat. But most of all, as Spo mentioned, Goran is a winner. That’s why he fits in so well with teammate Jimmy Butler. For example, though he’s not a great defender, Goran made a crucial steal in game one which iced the game, and even poked the ball loose from Khris Middleton in game two, which slowed the game down. That’s why he will be on the court to close games no matter the situation.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Erik Spoelstra was asked about an update on veteran Andre Iguodala, after he turned it pretty severely in yesterday’s game. Erik responded with “there’s no new update.” That definitely isn’t the best news, considering there was supposed to be an update today. If Andre was to be out a few games, that would mean Derrick Jones Jr would be back in Miami’s rotation. Derrick gave some pretty solid minutes in game two, especially with his scrappiness on the defensive end. It did seem as if he may be too small to guard Giannis one-on-one, which is why we will see him in lineups with Jae Crowder or Bam Adebayo. This will allow him to play off the ball, and do what he does best, which is utilizing his instinctive help defense.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jae Crowder was asked about his current feeling on this Heat team being up 2-0 on the Milwaukee Bucks. He said, “It’s definitely nothing right now.” The key for this Heat team now is to not get complacent. The reason I don’t think Miami will is because they have still yet to play their best game in this series. Jae also mentioned that he’s been down 2-0 before and still won the series. And honestly, Jae doesn’t seem to get enough credit for what he is doing in this Milwaukee series. For one, he’s knocked down some big shots for Miami down the stretches of both games. And second, he’s been an absolute Giannis stopper. Well, sort of. There’s no way to stop Giannis, but Jae Crowder does as good of a job as anybody guarding him, due to his size and physicality.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Goran Dragic talked a little about the controversial call when he fouled Khris Middleton on a three point attempt. He said, “You can’t give a referee a chance to put the game in their hands.” He then mentioned how he needs to do a much better job to avoid fouling jump shooters, especially at the end of a game. He also mentioned, “You have smart players, too. They know how to flop.” This comment may have a little something to do with that Khris Middleton shot as well, when Khris made sure to absolutely sell the foul call. But, if Miami can win a game like this, they can win any game.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Goran Dragic capped off his media session with the quote of the day. He said, “I’m 34 years old. I feel awesome.” As I’ve mentioned previously, some of the reason for Goran’s current play is because of the huge break, which seemed to get him back to his early season self. Another factor could be because of the current environment, which Goran mentioned today feels very similar to his summer three years ago when Slovenia won EuroBasket. Either way, Goran is 34 years old playing 34 minutes a game, and these are very quality minutes. Some also thought it had something to do with the match-ups, but Goran proved that wasn’t the case since he did pretty much whatever he wanted against Eric Bledsoe as well. If Goran keeps up this hot streak, this Miami team is a tough team to beat.

5 Post-Game Comments from Spoelstra, Crowder, Robinson, Butler

The Miami Heat took a 2-0 lead today, after a big win in game 2 against the Pacers. There seemed to be a mutual topic in each player’s media session, Jimmy Butler. Here’s what was said…

Post-Game Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra was asked about the second half aggressiveness of both Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler. He started off saying that it’s mainly because they are both “veteran leaders.” He then began to talk about Jimmy Butler’s importance, saying “Everyone knows why we got Jimmy Buter, it’s for these kinds of moments.” It’s pretty clear that this is why the Miami Heat brought Jimmy in, but this is finally the time it can be showcased. And Jimmy has not shed away from showing it, after having two big games to start the series. But, he impacted both games in different ways. One by completely taking over by scoring, and the other by every aspect. This whole team is 100% invested in their leader Jimmy Butler.

Post-Game Comment #2:

Jimmy Butler used a phrase that he’s been talking about a lot lately. He said, “As long as we keep fighting like the dogs that we are, we’ll come out on top.” Not only has Jimmy continually spoke about the amount of “dogs” on this roster, he also continually talks about “coming out on top.” The thing about this is that he truly believes. Actually, the whole team believes it. They have an absolute different mentality than these other teams, which gives them the edge they need.

Post-Game Comment #3:

Jimmy Butler also talked about what is so different about the Heat. He responded, “They let me be me…to cuss people out.” He then talked about nobody taking it personal. Bam Adebayo talked about this yesterday as well, saying that he’s able to yell at Jimmy Butler and others since they all want to win. We saw this in today’s game when Bam wanted Tyler Herro to clear out, but he didn’t. Bam consequently made sure to let him know. But once again, nobody takes it personal. This is truly what separates this Heat team from the rest.

Post-Game Comment #4:

Jae Crowder also talked about the big topic of the day, Jimmy Butler. Jae said, “I’ve been with Jimmy in some of the biggest games of his life back in college.” Jae notes that this has been Jimmy’s mentality for a while now. He mentions “his level of play rises to the occasion.” This is indeed true, since Jimmy has struggled from three all season, but has become truly confident in taking them now. Many have questioned Jimmy Butler’s offensive ability, even approaching the post-season, but he’s showing them all that he’s a different breed in the playoffs.

Post-Game Comment #5:

Duncan Robinson quickly mentioned after the game that he had some elite shooters reach out to him over the hiatus, including Mike Miller and Reggie Miller. Obviously they aren’t giving Duncan huge pointers on how to shoot, but shooters like this have the important insight on the small things. And it seems as if Duncan has picked up on some things since returning, including a side step dribble and an eagerness to attack the basket. And since this is basically Duncan’s rookie year, he has much more time to develop his game even more.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Butler, Crowder

The Miami Heat had another media session after another early morning practice today. Jimmy Butler spoke on the Indiana match-up and the chances of this current Heat team. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Jimmy Butler got asked once again about the TJ Warren match-up. He said, “I’m going to go out there and be the best player on the floor.” He also mentions that he’s not worried about anybody’s match-up. Jimmy seems to only be worried about one thing and one thing only which is to win. He has the utmost confidence in himself and this team in this playoff setting. He finishes his answer regarding the TJ Warren beef, saying “We can kill that. That’s something of the past.”

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Jae Crowder seems to have the utmost confidence in his former college teammate Jimmy Butler in a playoff series. He says, “This is when he comes alive.” Jimmy Butler has always been a guy that saves himself for the playoffs, and explodes. He was shooting 15 shots a game in last years playoffs, which was more than he attempted during the season. This is because your best player has to show up in the post-season in order for you to win. And even though people have doubted his jump shot all season, he knows he doesn’t need it to win since he has the confidence in himself to attack the basket and score or get to the line every play.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jimmy Butler spoke about the first round of the playoffs against Indiana, and likes the chances of this team going forward. He said, “The tougher team is gonna end up winning in the end, and I think we have that in our corner.” This team is obviously full of a bunch of gritty and tough guys. This always seems to be the case for a Miami Heat team, but this one is much different. Every single player has talked about winning in their media sessions, which shows the amount of focus on this roster. Jimmy finishes with “It’s gonna be a dog fight, but I think we got some dogs.”

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Jae Crowder touched on their defensive tweaks as of late. He says, “I think it has definitely put pressure on our communication.” He continually reiterates the fact that he’s been pushing communication all season, since he think it’s the biggest thing with this team. Jae Crowder was clearly a big reason for these defensive tweaks, since he was put into the starting lineup over Meyers Leonard for more versatility. And with Meyers out of the rotation, this hurts their defensive communication since he was one of their biggest on court voices. Jae definitely isn’t stressing this too much since it’s an easy fix.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Jimmy Butler was asked about this team’s recent success over Indiana and what they should make of it. He responds, “None of it.” He wants to make sure his team is completely focused and that they don’t get complacent with that mindset. He also mentions, “It’s a different style of basketball now.” This is obviously true since the two games played earlier in the season will be nothing like they are now. This also goes back to his previous comment of this team having a bunch of dogs. Although it’s a different style of play, it seems like it may benefit Miami even more.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Take-Down over Indiana Pacers

The Miami Heat played a much anticipated game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, and got the win 114-92. After a tie game at the half, Miami came out sharp in the second half on both sides of the ball. Here’s five takeaways from this big win…

#1: Jae Crowder continues to be Heat’s most consistent player.

Due to the amount of lethal shooters on this roster, including Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder seems to get left out of the conversation. But, he continues to be the Heat’s most consistent player on both sides of the floor, and is shooting 60% from three in the bubble. Jae Crowder is also one of those guys that does the dirty work for you, which obviously fits well into this system. This is why Jae made his way into the starting lineup and replaced Meyers Leonard, since versatility matters on this current team more than ever due to their depth in wings.

#2: Bench unit struggles with Goran Dragic moving to the starting lineup.

Goran Dragic got the surprising start in tonight’s game against the Pacers, but consequently caused a problem. Goran had such a groove with the second unit, which was one of Miami’s biggest strengths this season. When most teams had bench drop offs, Miami didn’t. But today, it was evident they did. When Goran exited the game, it wasn’t the same bench unit we’ve seen all season, which caused Indiana to comeback early. Goran came back into the game with the second unit in the second quarter, which seemed to settle Miami down on offense, and led to Miami’s second half display. Although there’s been questions about taking Kendrick Nunn out of the starting lineup all together, it may be better to continue this rotation and let Goran and Tyler run the offense smoothly with the bench unit.

#3: Derrick Jones Jr tries to lock up a spot in the rotation.

Derrick Jones Jr has been in and out of the Heat’s rotation this season, but this may be Derrick’s time to lock up his spot. He has proved that he can guard every team’s best player, but his offense has been in question. But today, he showed he can use his vertical spacing to his advantage. And he’s beginning to improve his shooting from beyond the arc, which if he can hit one to two threes in a playoff game, that can change a game. There also seemed to be a special connection between Derrick and Goran Dragic tonight, since about 80% of his points came from a Goran lob. Derrick has said time and time again that he wants to be here, but he will need to prove his impact during this last stretch before he goes into free agency.

#4: Bam Adebayo comes out aggressive out of the gate, which is essential.

Bam Adebayo started the first quarter with fire in his eyes when he had the ball in his hands. And with Myles Turner basically daring Bam to take a mid range jump shot, he took it with no hesitation, but it wasn’t falling. The thing is with Bam though, it doesn’t need to fall to help the offense. There are plenty of guys on the court who can hit these jumpers on offense, but they can’t open up the floor like Bam does. He also had a defensive motor tonight, which he brings every night, but it seemed to have a little more energy behind it, due to the Myles Turner match-up. Myles got the spot on the USA team over Bam, which obviously didn’t sit right with him. If Bam can bring this energy and aggressiveness every night, it benefits this team’s offensive versatilities even more.

#5: TJ Warren truly isn’t in Jimmy Butler’s league.

Everybody has been waiting for the TJ Warren-Jimmy Butler match-up since their scuffle back in January. Fast forward eight months later and Jimmy Butler still hasn’t forgotten. TJ Warren has been going on an absolute scoring tear in the bubble. Emphasis on scoring. Someone in Jimmy Butler’s league would have to be able to score, rebound, play-make, defend, and lead the way Jimmy does. Jimmy showcased this today scoring 19 points, along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Jimmy also mentioned after their game in January that “I can guard him and he can’t guard me.” Jimmy guarded TJ to start the game, while TJ guarded Jae Crowder, which definitely raises an eyebrow. This was also far from a meaningless game since Miami is trying to secure the four seed, which may ultimately mean a first round match-up against TJ Warren and the Indiana Pacers.

5 Key Moments from Media Session with Spoelstra, Crowder

The Miami Heat had an early practice on Sunday, before they get ready for a back to back against the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics. Erik Spoelstra talked with media after practice, along with Jae Crowder. The team also released some information to media that was a bit of a surprise. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Jae Crowder talked about the fact that Jimmy Butler had an excused absence from the team today. Jae said, “We want to talk to him as soon as he gets out of quarantine or whatever he is in.” This seems to point in a certain direction, but there is still much unknown of what the exact reason is. Jae also said, “It’s definitely a curve ball to us to hear stuff like what’s going on with him.” This definitely leaves the Heat on a negative note after a very positive win yesterday, but as Jae said, “You never know what to expect.”

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Coach Erik Spoelstra began his time with media talking about Heat’s star Jimmy Butler. He said he had an excused absence for the day and will not say whether he will play tomorrow against Toronto. Jae definietly gave a much more expanded answer than Spo may have wanted to, but still nothing was released. It was confirmed that he is currently still in the Orlando bubble, but this is the only information that will be released. The number one priority of the NBA is to make sure every player is 100% in this bubble, which is why he will be given as much time as he needs regarding this unknown circumstance.

 

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Erik Spoelstra touched on the offensive side of Jae Crowder he wants to continue to see. He says not only does he feel comfortable with him shooting contested threes, he wants him to shoot from even deeper to stretch the floor. This was the main reason he got the starting spot in Saturday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Meyers Leonard will most likely be back in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against Toronto, due to match-up reasons against Marc Gasol. Jae Crowder may still get a starting position as well if Jimmy Butler doesn’t play in tomorrow’s game. This decision will be made on the fly, since this news has just been brought to everyone’s attention.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Erik Spoelstra got to discuss tomorrow’s match-up with the Toronto Raptors. He said, “They have a great defense and their team speed is unique.” This was definitely on display when the Heat and Raptors faced off earlier in the season. The score was 84-76, in an absolute defensive match. This will be replicated again as well, since the Raptors showed that they haven’t slowed up on defense in Saturday’s game against the Lakers. It’ll be much harder for the Heat to contain the Raptors game speed if Jimmy Butler doesn’t play, but the most important thing is making sure Jimmy Butler is both 100% healthy and doing well in his personal life.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Erik Spoelstra got to talk about a lighter topic than the rest of the media session. He mentions he loves dressing casual and he hopes the NBA continues it. He says, “Its a lot less to think about.” It definitely gives coaches a bit more freedom while coaching, and also provides much more option instead of the same old suit. This is something that will definitely be considered by the NBA to permanently be changed.

5 Main Comments from Media Scrum with Spoelstra, Adebayo, Crowder

The Heat had another late practice Monday night, in preparation for the Heat’s third and final scrimmage game. Coach Erik Spoelstra gave a clearer outlook on the Heat’s lineup for the scrimmage game, while Bam Adebayo touched on a much more important topic. Here’s what they had to say…

Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra talked about the return of Bam Adebayo to the lineup after he tested positive for corona virus. He said, “He’s had several good days of rock solid work.” This was one of the main reasons Bam didn’t play Saturday. He had just arrived and didn’t have a chance to get in game shape. But now, he’s starting to look like he’s in mid-season form since he stayed in shape during the hiatus. Spoelstra also adds, “He will play.” This is one of the biggest things Heat fans want to get a look at again. They want to see their developing superstar back out their on the court wearing that red and black.

Comment #2:

Spoelstra mentions that everyone will be available tomorrow for the scrimmage, except rookie KZ Okpala. This seems to clear up a lot of misconception for Heat fans since they’ve been waiting to see him get some minutes. It’s like fans fully expect him to be a star, and how can you blame them since it seems every young guy the Heat get turns into one. KZ will most likely not see the court during their time in the bubble, but it’s probably for the best. Not only give him time to fully heal, but also time to fully understand the league. Duncan Robinson didn’t see the court in his rookie year, which he spent doing exactly what Okpala is doing now. Don’t be surprised if KZ Okpala comes out of no where next year to be a key player off the bench.

Comment #3:

Spoelstra talks about how this environment has been treating them and what he expects from the team. He begins saying that he’s been telling players to leave their rooms or stop playing video games. This almost seems as if this was aimed at a particular person. Maybe not. But either way, as long as they are producing on the court, that’s all that really matters. He also says he suggested players to go out and play golf. Goran Dragic seemed to take advantage of the opportunity which he played golf for the first time ever. Spoelstra ends with, “It’s been easier to focus on your team. And even for the guys. Life is simple here.” Although it’s all focus for this Heat team, this may not be the case for every team in the bubble. The teams still here in October will be lead by guys that are the most mentally tough and “focused.”

Comment #4:

Jae Crowder got to discuss tomorrow’s scrimmage as well, which he seems to know a lot about. When Jae talked about playing his old team in Memphis, he said “I’m going to take it very serious.” He adds that they want to put it together as a team and play the right way in these games. Kelly Olynyk has seemed to “play the right way” in these games, which Jae said has really helped him out with the second unit. He raves about Kelly’s versatility since they can use different sets against other defenses. He also began to rave about Tyler Herro, which he said his confidence is what surprised him so much. What I took from what Jae said during this time is his positivity in himself with the second unit. Between his high praise in Kelly and Tyler, and his learning from Goran and Andre, he truly believes this will be a X-factor for this team.

Comment #5:

Bam Adebayo got to talk with some media tonight as well, but in a much different sense. He took the road of answering every question with getting justice for Breonna Taylor. Getting this message across to both media and fans is truly essential. He wants to make sure that this stays on people’s minds, especially since this is a much more important discussion than talking about how practice went. Bam and others have been vocally active on social justice issues since their arrival, which is the main goal for the NBA as a whole during their time in the bubble. Bam ends with the quote that everybody not only needs to support, but act upon. “Black Lives Matter, people.”

 

Justise Winslow

5 Reasons the Justise Winslow Trade Works

In February, the Miami Heat made a major move in trading Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson as part of a three-team deal. Miami managed to flip three players who were not contributing for players who provided production immediately. But was it the right move to make?

In the wake of the trade, a Heat Nation civil war ensued between the “Bustise Winslow” and “Justise Better” camps. And while it’s difficult to see a 24-year-old former lottery pick leave for past-their-prime veterans, Winslow’s lack of production hampered the team’s ability to move forward. He may find new life in Memphis, but it seemed like he’d never breakthrough with the Heat.

So here are five reasons why trading Justise Winslow works for the Miami Heat.

1 – Justise Winslow’s Availability

As a rookie, Justise Winslow played 78 games for the Heat. That remains the high-water mark for Winslow during his five-year career. By a wide margin. He missed well over 100 games while with Miami, including the bulk of two of his five seasons.

This year, real questions clouded Winslow’s desire to play. Although plagued by back issues, it’s been said that Winslow and the Heat could not agree on treatment or a timetable for return. This friction with the organization greased the wheels of a potential deal despite Winslow’s youth and potential.

The uncertainty of Winslow’s availability was replaced by a pair of players who’ve produced. Jae Crowder saw the floor in 13 of Miami’s 15 games after his February 6th acquisition. He’s posted 11.9 points-per-game and netted over 39 percent of his three-point attempts. Winslow’s career-high PPG is 12.3 and he’s never made threes at that high of a clip.

Andre Iguodala headlined the deal for Miami. Iggy played 14 of the 15 games after the trade, sitting out just the first one (like Crowder). He’s provided defensive flexibility and his 37 percent clip from three has kept opposing teams accountable.

Miami managed to unload three players in Winslow, Waiters and Johnson that were not producing at any meaningful level during the playoff push. They swapped them out for three players (Crowder, Iguodala and Solomon Hill) who could.

2 – Cap Flexibility

While the COVID-19 crisis has cast uncertainty on the league’s finances, Miami making this move in February seemed financially motivated. By flipping Winslow, Waiters and Johnson, the Heat freed up cap space for not only the coming offseason, but also the following one, when Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo could be available.

Winslow was set to make $26 million over the next two seasons, though the team held the contract’s option for 2021-22. Johnson had $16 million coming his way, and Waiters waited on another $12 million for 2020-21.

Moving off of those contracts saved Miami nearly $55 million in total and more than $40 million for this offseason. The Heat have a number of internal free agent options, including Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr. and Crowder. This deal could give Miami the means to bring all four contributors back. They could also look to add other players like Davis Bertans, Danilo Gallinari, or maybe even Serge Ibaka or Paul Millsap.

Yes, the team inked a $30 million extension with Iguodala as part of the trade. But the $15 million owed to Iggy for 2021-22 is a team option. In addition, the Warriors hold a $17.2 million trade exception that could see Miami create even more cap space if he’s traded back to Golden State.

3 – 3 & D Upgrade over Justise Winslow

While Justise Winslow may have wanted to be a point guard, the most obvious role for him to fill with this Heat team was as a 3-and-D wing. Winslow’s strength is on defense. He flashed that ability as a rookie, switching to defend multiple positions during Miami’s playoff run that year.

Offensively, Winslow’s most glaring weakness seemed to be his distance shooting. (Although finishing around the rim was also an issue.) While he’s improved from three, Winslow wasn’t a threat to opposing defenses standing beyond the arc.

This season, both Crowder (.318) and Iguodala (.375) have netted three-point attempts at a higher clip than Winslow (.222). With the Heat, Crowder has hit 39 percent from three.

Crowder sports a higher Defensive Win Shares figure (2.0), with Iguodala and Winslow tied at 0.4. In Defensive Box Plus/Minus, Iguodala leads (1.9), followed by Crowder (0.3) then Winslow (minus-0.1).

Crowder and Iguodala both provide Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra with switchable wing defenders who can play both on the perimeter and on the inside.

4 – Veteran Leadership

Iguodala is a 16-year veteran, Finals MVP and three-time champ. He’s an intelligent and articulate player who upgrades Miami’s basketball IQ. He’s played nearly 150 playoff games and has made four Finals appearances. This experience is something Winslow couldn’t provide.

Crowder’s resume isn’t nearly as decorated, but he is playoff-tested. A seven-year veteran, Crowder has played in more than 50 playoff games and made 30 starts. He helped defend LeBron James for Boston in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. He averages over 10 points-per-game and 32 percent on threes in the playoffs.

In just his fifth NBA season, Winslow has played 18 playoff games. The bulk of those (13) came in his rookie season. And his unwillingness to return to play for the Heat this season casts a disparaging mark on his resume as a leader.

5 – Offensive Clarity

The allure of a Jimmy Butler-Justise Winslow defensive pairing enticed everyone. Their brief snippets of play, with Bam Adebayo behind them, left Heat fans wanting more. But, as great as those defensive sequences were, on the other end of the floor, things were clunky.

Winslow held a well-known desire to be a point guard. He wanted the ball in his hands and flashed some ability as an offensive facilitator at times in his career. In the open court, he moved well and attacked, though finishing was an issue. But in the half court, the offense could stall with him at the helm, especially if Winslow wasn’t making his jumpers.

Butler will be the primary ball handler for Miami in this NBA restart. Kendrick Nunn should stand as the secondary option, with Dragic taking that role off the bench. Much of the half-court offense will be fed through Adebayo on the elbow, leaving Crowder and Duncan Robinson to man corners and wings.

Dealing Justise Winslow afforded Miami with a simplified offensive setup. Each rotation player now has a set role, both on the defensive end and offensively. The ball will be with Butler, Adebayo, Dragic and Nunn for the majority of the game. Winslow would’ve muddied those waters on offense and flipping him for Crowder and Iguodala keeps things clear.