Go ahead and give Chris Bosh a partial assist for Justise Winslow’s successful shooting performance Saturday night against the Nets when he made a career-high four three-pointers and finished with a season-high 15 points in the Heat’s victory.
Bosh, who was in town to help promote the NBA while doing some work for Marriott and was presented as a Heat legend along with Glen Rice and Alonzo Mourning during a timeout in the first half of Saturday’s game, hung out with Winslow Friday night at an NBA-sponsored party at a local nightclub and gave Winslow, his 21-year-old former teammate, a pep talk.
They also spent time at the party going over Winslow’s shooting wrist motion.
“It was a full-on pep talk,” Winslow said. “I’ll take it. You never know when you’re going to see Mr. Travel A Lot.”
Winslow, a career 40 percent shooter and 28.4 percent shooter from three-point range, has always looked up to Bosh. He says they’ve remained in touch and spoken “a good amount” in the time since Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, played his last game for the Heat in February 2016. Bosh, 33, was released by the Heat in July after an NBA doctor determined his battle with ongoing blood clots was life-threatening and career-ending.
“[We talk] every blue moon kind of, once every couple months, maybe once a month,” Winslow said. “That’s my guy man. Obviously the way things turned out were not the way we wanted. But my rookie year sitting next to him every day, being left-handed, being from Texas, I’m not going to say I look up to him because if he sees that he’ll hang it over my head, but I love that guy and he means a lot to me.”
Winslow, who was recently sent back to the bench after making 15 consecutive starts, said he didn’t really take coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to bring him off the bench “as a bad thing or a good thing.” But he does see positives in it.
“For me, I just see it as an opportunity to be even more of a playmaker with that second group especially with the great spot up shooters we have in Wayne [Ellington] and Tyler [Johnson],” Winslow said. “I like that group. It doesn’t really matter to me [whether I’m starting or coming off the bench]. I like all my teammates, but particularly with that group there’s a chance to make plays with everybody on the court as far as offensively – and defensively just kind of quarterbacking and putting people in the right spots. I enjoy that role.”
Winslow’s 15-point performance was only his fifth double-digit scoring game of the season and first since he scored 10 points in the Heat’s win at Washington on Nov. 17.
Winslow’s performance Saturday was also good on the other side of the court – an area he’s admitted and metrics have shown he’s slipped some. He finished with six rebounds and two blocks and played with kind of energy Spoelstra said is more important than if he’s knocking down jumpers.
“With Justise, I’ll continue to say this, it’s not about the shooting with him,” Spoelstra said. “Unfortunately, this is probably when people will start to notice. I want that scouting report not to get out for awhile because his shot, he’s put so much time into it in the off-season, it was already coming and we already knew that. Those open looks especially when nobody is closing out to him, he’ll make you pay for those. But it’s not about that with him, it’s all winning plays that he makes during the course of the game. The deflections, the blocks, the ball pressure, rebounding, facilitating for us offensively and getting in the right spots defensively.
“He’s had that relative light green light from behind three. I don’t want him shooting eight, nine threes a game. But certainly when you leave him open he’s very proficient, particularly in practice.”
Winslow’s teammates have long said they’ve seen a difference in his shot this season in practice. The issue has been making it translate into games. But they continue pushing him to take open shots when they are there.
“Not surprising,” James Johnson said of Winslow’s four three-pointers Saturday. “He shoots it with confidence. It started in the Spurs game. I think he went [1 for 4] and it didn’t deter him. We’d never deter him. We always shoot confidence into J.W. We know how hard he works and we want him to shoot those shots because it’s only going to open up more stuff for us on the floor.”
Said Josh Richardson: “[This performance was a] good confidence booster for him. Justise is a rhythm player. So when he gets into a rhythm he can keep that going for a while. I hope it carries over.”