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Miami Heat: Justise Winslow suffers another injury setback

The Miami Heat will be without Justise Winslow for two weeks.

Another day, another status update on Justise Winslow. According to a tweet from Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald, coach Eric Spolestra indicated Friday that Winslow will be out for the next two weeks. This is stemming from his back injury. Once the two weeks are up, he will be re-evaluated at that point.

This is another setback in what has been a difficult process for Justise Winslow. He was back on the court January 8 against Indiana, but he has not returned sense. In that game, he missed both shots he took. Recording two rebounds, an assist, and a steal, he made a noticeable impact.

Winslow has just not been healthy enough to get on the court consistently this season. Duncan Robinson has filled in for him in his absence. Robinson has averaged 11.8 points in 40 games this season. One of his best games of the year came against Atlanta on December 10. In that contest, he scored 34 points on 12-of-16 shooting. He went 10-of-14 from beyond the arc.

It will be interesting to see what occurs after the two weeks are up. Are the Heat going to trade Winslow at the deadline? The date for the trade deadline is February 6 at 3 PM EST. Five Reasons Sports noted on the Five on the Floor podcast that they don’t think Winslow suits up for the Heat this season. With the trade deadline being so close to that two-week timeframe, that is certainly believable.

Winslow needs to get healthy, and maybe have a fresh start somewhere else. Right now, he is just taking up space for Miami. Obviously, things may be different when he is healthy, but we have yet to see it. A healthy Winslow is great. And oft-injured Winslow is not ideal. We’ll have to see how this plays out.

Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow missing both games in New York

Justise Winslow will not play for the Miami Heat in New York, either against the Nets on Friday night or the Knicks on Sunday afternoon, after a setback with his back injury.

Health has been a problem for Winslow this season. He has only played in 11 games to this point. His last contest came on Wednesday against Indiana. In that game, he saw the four for 15:33. He missed both shots he attempted but did manage to record two rebounds, an assist, and a block.

For his Miami Heat career, Justice Winslow has played for five seasons in 241 games. He has recorded nine points per game in addition to 5.4 rebounds per game. His best season came last year. He played in 66 games, starting 52 of them. He recorded 12.6 points per contest as well as 5.4 rebounds per game. He saw an increase in minutes in comparison to the 2017-18 season. Playing 29.7 minutes per contest, that was an increase from 2017-18. He played in 24.7 minutes per game that year.

So far this season, Winslow is playing 23 minutes per contest. His best game to this point in the season came against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 23. He scored 27 points, going 10-of-21 from the field. In addition, he recorded seven rebounds and seven assists. It was certainly a nice way to start the season for Winslow.

When healthy, he is undoubtedly an asset for Miami. However, it seems like he has been injured more often than on the floor. One has to wonder if the Heat will deal him prior to the trade deadline in an effort to get more production from another asset. As for right now, their main goal should be to see that he gets healthy.

Winslow, Butler Practice for Miami Heat, Will Travel

For all their success this year, the Miami Heat have yet to accomplish one important goal . . . fielding a healthy roster.  The Heat came into the season missing their newly signed superstar, Jimmy Butler, due to the birth of his first child.  And there were the self-inflicted setbacks, most notably from high-paid reserves Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

But most concerning has been the rash of injuries that has plagued the Heat’s back court rotation of Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic.  The injuries to both of Miami’s point guards has led to an increased burden on Butler and a “playoff-style” rotation of 8 or 9 players that has seemingly shown in weary legs at the end of road games and back to back scenarios.  Even with Dragic’s recent return and stellar play, the shortened rotation has still been in place thanks to the uneven play of forwards Kelly Olynyk and Chris Silva.

Reinforcements, however, look to be on the way with a breakout game from Johnson Sunday night against the Blazers.  Johnson’s size, playmaking ability and defense were on display for the first time in months as he finally received the nod from Coach Erik Spoelstra with Butler taking the night off.  “We stay ready around here,” replied Johnson when asked how he was able to shake off the rust of weeks on the bench to impact the game in such a fashion.

And it would seem that the return of Winslow may be on the horizon as he was upgraded to questionable on Sunday night, even though he didn’t play.  Monday Winslow was seen swimming with dolphins and teammate Bam Adebayo and Tuesday Spoelstra told media that he practiced with the team and was travelling to Indiana for Wednesday’s game against the Pacers, a positive sign.

Butler practiced with the team as well, which is a good signal that he will be available as well on Wednesday night.  So a fully healthy Heat squad is finally a real possibility in the coming days which should be a welcome sign to Spoelstra and his staff, as well as present new rotation challenges.  But after weeks of riding an 8-man rotation, those are great challenges to have.

Attrition may Have Uncovered Potent Lineup for Heat

A potent lineup for the Heat may have revealed itself.

The Miami Heat have somehow managed to maintain course despite crucial injuries to Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic.

 

Miami has started to show some vulnerability, as evidenced by their first truly bad loss of the year at Memphis.

Jimmy Butler needs a break.

However the team once again found enough gas Wednesday to end Philadelphia’s undefeated run at home.  The common denominators for most Heat lineups lately have been Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kendrick Nunn.  That trio has been in the top three lineups for Miami in terms of minutes per game, with Duncan Robinson and Meyers Leonard rounding things out.

Switching to Airplane Mode

One intriguing combination has been to bring in Derrick Jones Jr. for Meyers Leonard early and late.  Leonard typically opens each half but has not been utilized much, if at all down the stretch.  Jones, Jr. has been seeing a huge increase in minutes recently due to several factors, including the razor thin rotation Erik Spoelstra has to work with.  That faith has been rewarded as Jones continues to carve out a more significant role.  Over the last seven games, DJJ is averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is starting to feel it from downtown.  He is 6-for-13 in his last four games and has scored in double figures three times in that span, while his defense has also made a huge impact.

 

The lineup featuring Butler/Jones, Jr./Adebayo/Robinson/Nunn has been used in just three games going into Wednesday.  Yet in that limited sample the numbers have been encouraging and perhaps worth a look.  Rebounding is a legitimate concern without a second traditional big however, time will tell how the scales balance in that aspect.

 

Butler has been all that Heat fans could have hoped for but is exerting a ton out there. He struggled in his latest return to Philadelphia and is logging a Thibodeau-ian amount of minutes lately.  Butler is playing almost 39 minutes per contest in December which is nearly six minutes more than his career average. His 26.3 usage rate this season would be the second highest total of his career if maintained.

While DJJ has been a key cog in the wheel, the emergence of Adebayo is what has held things together.  The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week has continued to carry the load on both ends.  Adebayo is the anchor, not only on defense but from the high post where his skill set shines.  Bam is averaging 18/11/5  in December and his ability to finish on the pick-and-roll, or run things from the top, has kept defenses off balance.

Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have been inconsistent but when they are on, they give this group the scoring from the perimeter it needs.  Nunn erupted for 26 points at Philadelphia and has hit half his three-point attempts on this road trip. If he can start making the easy plays and distribute the ball, expect another nice progression from the rookie.  Meanwhile, Robinson has been feast-or-famine, but when he’s eating the whole offense changes.  He has become a comfortable second option on the perimeter when the initial action doesn’t hit, while doing just enough on defense.  Robinson is shooting over 47% from deep this month and is getting almost six minutes more per game.

The lineup is shooting 59.6% overall and 52% from deep, while averaging a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.  On the opposite end they are holding opponents to just 40% shooting, including 26.5% from beyond the arc.  Conversely, they are 6.5 points better overall than the opponent so far.  Perhaps that is why they were the “Five on the Floor” to close the game out in Philadelphia.

When Dragic (and Winslow?) return, it will likely shake up the backcourt rotation once again.

For now, we may be seeing this group again when it counts.

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler out for Wednesday’s game against Rockets

The Miami Heat will face a tough Houston Rockets team without one of its best players. Forward Jimmy Butler will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Rockets due to an illness.

This is certainly an unfortunate development as Butler has been fantastic for the Heat this season. He is averaging 18.9 points per contest, to go along with 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. He is truly doing it all for Miami, and he is undoubtedly one of the leaders in the locker room.

If there is one positive about this injury, it is that the Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks without Butler in October. They are facing a team of equal talent in the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.

This could also mean that Justise Winslow gets the start. Winslow has played in five games this season averaging 13.8 points. His best game statistically came on October 23 against Memphis where he scored 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting. He also managed to record seven rebounds and seven assists.

Winslow also had a nice game against Minnesota on October 27. In 42 minutes of work, he recorded 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also proved to be an impactful playmaker, recording six assists on the evening. He has put up points when given the opportunity. For him, it’s all about staying healthy. Wednesday night, he may get his first chance at extended action in quite a while.

Miami Heat Watch Party at Duffy’s

Make sure to join us on Wednesday at Duffy’s for the Miami Heat game. It should be a great contest as they look to defeat the Houston Rockets. With an upstart Miami Heat team playing against one of the premier teams in the Western Conference, it is certainly must-see television.

Start your Thanksgiving holiday off right. Hopefully, the Miami Heat will make the party even better with a victory.

Heat’s Justise Winslow finally back, will play vs. Rockets

Justise Winslow will finally make his return Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.

The Miami Heat point guard has been out of action since November 5th when he collided with Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, and stayed in the game. He was placed in concussion protocol after the game and practiced for the first time today (Tuesday) since the injury. Without Winslow, Miami posted an impressive 7-2 record and didn’t miss a beat for the most part, except perhaps against Philadelphia, where his size and defense clearly would have been useful.

 

Duncan Robinson was able to step in for Justise and contribute solid minutes even posting a career high in points during his absence. It will be interesting to finally see the tandem of Jimmy Butler and Justise Winslow get significant play time together. Many expect them to flourish on the defensive end but question whether offensively it will work.

What Duncan Robinson gave the Heat during Winslow’s absence was a deadly three point threat which provided tons of spacing. Although Winslow isn’t an awful shooter (38 percent from three-point range the past two seasons), it will be interesting to see how this plays out especially since the Heat proved they can win games without him. Also, the Heat have been linked to names such as San Antonio’s former All-Stars, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, with Winslow being the centerpiece in most of these speculated trades.

So the fit here may determine Pat Riley’s actions.

Winslow’s return comes at a great time as the Heat face one of the more lethal backcourts in the NBA — Russell Westbrook and scoring leader James Harden. His size and defense will be important in stopping Houston’s high powered offense.

Justise is better.

Now we’ll see if the Heat are too.

Shifting heights… and being high on Heat roster

The NBA recently got real.

The league mandated that all teams must annually update their players height measurements without shoes and the measurements for the Heat players are finally in.

Down from “6-7” with shoes, Justise Winslow could be the potential opening night starting guard for the Heat with official height measurements of “6-6”. Rookie Tyler Herro who was drafted 13th overall from Kentucky will officially listed at 6-5 a little shorter than his combine height of 6-6, second round pick from Stanford KZ Okpala official numbers measure him at 6-8 instead of 6-9. Heat guards Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic, Winslow’s most likely potential backcourt mates, both were listed at “6-3.

The frontcourt?

The Heat’s big trade acquisition, new face of the franchise and likely starting small forward Jimmy Butler, who is “6’8” in shoes, will officially be listed an inch shorter at “6-7,” likewise for James Johnson, who is away from the team until he meets his conditioning requirements. And the same  for Duncan Robinson who also will now be officially listed an inch shorter at “6-7.” The Heat will have one 7 footer on the roster instead of two, as Meyers Leonard,  who will remain a seven footer is down by an inch from 7-1 to 7-0 and Kelly Olynyk from 7-0 to 6-11. Next in line to be the Heat franchise center, Bam Adebayo, is measured at 6-9, down from 6-10.

So basically every player except for Dragic, Devon Reed and Udonis Haslem shrunk an inch without shoes. Does this change anything? No, it doesn’t. However, while we’re discussing players heights, what this does say is that the Heat will be a lot bigger, especially in the wing positions than previous seasons. In the second quarter of the scrimmage on Sunday, with Olynyk injured, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra started a lineup of Winslow (6-6), Butler (6-7), Robinson (6-7) Adebayo (6-9) and Leonard (7-0). That is a huge line up for a heat team that often deployed 6-3 guards such as Dragic, Waiters, and Tyler Johnson together in recent years.

Another big lineup could feature Winslow, Butler and Okpala but we should expect the second-round rookie to play more in versatile lineups at the four, similar to James Johnson the last two seasons. Spoelstra could also go smaller by sliding Winslow and Butler down to the 3 and 4, with Dragic and Waiters at the 1 and 2, although I don’t think it would be wise. So many possibilities. What about Herro in the backcourt with Winslow and Butler along with Olynyk, Leonard or Jones next to Adebayo?

Needless to say, this roster is one of the more versatile and flexible groups Spoelstra has had recently. The versatility is not just measured with a ruler, but with skillsets.

Miami Heat scrimmage showcases team’s new look

The Dolphins couldn’t lose Sunday.

Neither could the Hurricanes.

And of course, neither could the Heat.

They were playing themselves, after all, for the Red, White and Pink Scrimmage to benefit breast cancer research.

Naturally, not much defense was played. But the energy was different — as in better — than it’s been the past couple of seasons. This team feels fresh.

Here’s the best from the day….

 

 

Goran Dragic, to no one’s surprise, opts in

Point Guard Goran Dragic has informed the Heat of his decision to pick up his player option for the 2019-20 season.

The final year on Dragic’s contract is worth $19.2 million.

It was widely expected that Dragic would indeed opt in to the final year of his lucrative 2019-20 salary. What was much less expected is the timing related to the decision. 

Upon formally opting in, Dragic is now eligible to be traded. This is particularly interesting when you factor in the 2019 NBA draft being one week away. 

The NBA draft is typically accompanied by a flurry of trade activity and this decision by Dragic drastically increases the chances he could be dealt prior to next season. 

Dragic is still a useful veteran point guard on an expiring contract.

He will have interested trade suitors.

Have the Heat presented Dragic with trade scenarios that would require him to opt in but also give Dragic say in where he lands? Or did Dragic opt in because the Heat assured him he wasn’t on the trade block? And what does this mean for Justise Winslow, who showed promise as a point guard option, even if the Heat keep touting his versatility instead?

Plenty of questions remain as we prepare for next Thursday’s draft and free agency in July. 

Justise Not Served? Heat Linked to Point Guards

The Heat don’t have a starting forward on their roster.

Not one.

Yes, Kelly Olynyk can play power forward, but he’s really best at center, where the Heat have Hassan Whiteside (who is likely not opting out) and Bam Adebayo (who needs to start).

Yes, Derrick Jones, Jr., played both forward spots last season, and he’s improving rapidly, but he’s not quite at the level where he would start for most teams either.

Yes, James Johnson is paid a lot. But, well, you know.

They do appear to have two starting quality point guards, however, and yet, oddly, they keep getting linked to any and every point who may be available. That’s with Goran Dragic likely to opt in for the final season of his contract — and with Justise Winslow showing last season that it is by far his best position.

So what’s happening here?

Both Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra made a point, during their end-of-season press conferences, to spotlight Winslow’s versatility. That was a telling, and somewhat troubling, sign. What is it going to take for them to see that Winslow is not suited to be a smallball power forward or a stand-in-the-corner wing as much as he is equipped to be someone with the ball in his hands, making plays for himself and others? That he feeds off that responsibility, gains confidence, and plays better?

My belief was the Heat should have taken that approach with their postseason talks. Tell Winslow and the world that he can be the guy there if he enhances certain aspects of his game. He’s a hard worker, and has already made great strides as a finisher and as a range shooter. Now get him running thousands of pick-and-rolls all summer long.

Maybe the Heat are.

And maybe they plan to deal Dragic, to clear more time for Winslow at the spot.

But why then are we hearing all of this, and is it just coming from the other side?

And this:

OK, that one was Brian Scalabrine, and apparently it was prior to Winslow’s point guard emergence.

That was our own Greg Sylvander (@Lefty_Leif) who reported that one.

And, finally, there’s this rumor, which has the most credibility, because the Heat have loved this player for a long, long time:

OK, now, the Conley thing makes some sense.

I’ve always been a fan as well.

One thing that isn’t well known is how much respect Dwyane Wade and Conley have for each other, and clearly Wade still holds some sway around these parts.

Here was Conley when I asked him at NBA All-Star Weekend about swapping jerseys earlier in the season:

He’s Heat Culture, through and through. Selfless. Determined. Consistent.

But again, would his arrival mean the departure of Dragic, the departure of Winslow or the shifting of Winslow to a position where he is not as naturally comfortable?