In one sense, Tyler Johnson wishes his 2018 NBA Playoffs experience wasn't already over.
Alas, any chance of that happening ended three weeks ago when the Miami Heat lost its first-round series to the Philadelphia 76ers in five games.
In another sense, though, the 26-year-old shooting guard knows there's value that the team can take away from simply making the playoffs even if the postseason ride was short.
"Obviously as a competitor, you want to be out there and you want to be competing especially when you see some of these teams that you feel like you could have matched up well with playing," Johnson told reporters Tuesday while attending an end-of-year celebration event for the Heat Academy at AmericanAirlines Arena. "But at the same time, looking at it from a different perspective, actually making it to the playoffs this year and having a role on a playoff team kind of made me — and I'm sure some of the other guys who haven't really been in the playoffs — look at the game a little different and look at the playoff atmosphere a little different when we're watching other teams play."
Johnson is a prime example of that. The Heat's playoff run — despite lasting just five games — was only the second of Johnson's young NBA career and his first as a starter.
He wasn't alone. Johnson was one of three Heat players to log his first career playoff starts this year, along with James Johnson and Josh Richardson. All three showed strides at points during the series loss to the 76ers.
And despite injuring his left thumb during Game 3 and scoring 0 points in Game 4, Johnson still shot 53.8 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range — both well above his regular-season averages of 43.5 and 36.7 percent. Johnson had surgery on his thumb April 30 and said he should be out of the cast in a couple weeks.
But that doesn't make it any easier for the team to watch as the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets continue their run toward the NBA Finals and the Heat has already shifted its attention to the offseason and the 2018-19 season.
"It's tough to just watch it," said Rodney McGruder, who missed the first 60 games of the season but played in 18 of the Heat's final 22 games and played 16 minutes in the playoffs, "but you can also use it as a teaching tool, too, seeing how guys handle those situations and those key moments and things like that. Just using it for positive things. Just watching the game from a coach's eye, I would say."
He’s optimistic that watching the playoffs now will help prepare him for another playoff run and a longer offseason will be beneficial long term.
"Hopefully next year," McGruder said, "I'm not done at this time."