The Heat’s scoring increase since the All-Star break isn’t just dramatic, it’s historically dramatic.
After averaging 100.5 points per game before the All-Star break in mid-February, Miami is averaging 114.8 since. That is the largest recorded jump in NBA history, according to Stats Inc. The first All-Star Game was held in 1951.
If Miami had maintained the 114.8 scoring pace for the entire season, the Heat would be second in the league in scoring, one-tenth of a point behind Golden State.
“We can score,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s a lot of teams that can score. If you had more teams that could actually embrace team basketball, you could put up big numbers. It’s sometimes harder to score when you have a definitive No. 1, No. 2 option. They’re going to get the majority of touches and the usage rate and defense can load up on that at times. The more weapons you have, the more diversity you have, the better.”
The fact Miami has played four overtime games since the All-Star break, including the 149-141 double overtime win Monday against Denver, is certainly one factor.
But there are others:
▪ Improved offensive production from several players, including Justise Winslow.
Winslow, who averaged 6.2 points on 39.7 percent shooting before the All-Star break, is at 10.5 on 47 percent shooting since.
There have also been post-break scoring increases for Tyler Johnson (11.5 to 13.6), James Johnson (10.5 to 11.2) and Goran Dragic (17.4 to 18.8).
▪ Dwyane Wade’s addition. Wade, who is missing his fifth consecutive game Wednesday with a hamstring injury, is averaging 13.7 points in his 12 games.
▪ Better shooting. Miami is making 46.9 percent of its shots and 37.1 percent of its three-pointers since the break, up from 45.2 and 35.9 before.
Beyond Winslow, there have been significant field-goal percentage jumps from James Johnson (48.6 to 56.1) and Tyler Johnson (41.7 to 47.1).
▪ Playing team basketball.
“That’s amazing when you can accomplish when you just play together, share the ball and nobody cares,” Spoelstra said. “Nobody cares who’s the leading scorer. You have emotional stability that it can be different guys, different nights. It’s the strength in numbers. Now that’s a good thing. Our offense has been trending the right way for a while.”
▪ Fewer turnovers. Miami is committing two fewer per game – 12.1 compared with 14.1 before the All-Star break.
▪ Playing at a faster pace. Miami has risen in pace from 28th (third-slowest in the league) before the All-Star break to 16th now.
“Our tempo is a little bit high,” Dragic said. “Maybe because of that, we have more possessions and that’s why we’re scoring more points. Everybody is on the same page and that helps a lot.”
The Heat, 28th in scoring at the All-Star break, has moved up to 24th.
Besides Wade, Hassan Whiteside also remained out. Wednesday’s Knicks game is the sixth game Whiteside is out with a sore left hip. “They’re progressing,” Spoelstra said.
▪ Denver coach Mike Malone said after Monday’s game that “Kelly Olynyk traveled all over the place but made some big plays.”
Olynyk, informed of those comments on Wednesday, said: “Watch the NBA. Everybody travels anytime they touch the ball. I don’t know if I did or didn’t. I am sure they were traveling as well.”
Has anyone told Olynyk he might travel? “I think it looks unorthodox. I don’t know if it’s always a travel. Sometimes I get called [for] travel when I don’t travel so it probably all evens out.”
He said he stays aware of what he does with his pivot foot.
“It’s all footwork and fundamentals,” he said. “There’s a lot of times I go back on film and they called travel and I didn’t travel.”
Olynyk had 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a career-high four blocks in Monday’s win.
▪ Spoelstra said there was a positive in the technical malfunction that prevented the release of a boxscore in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s win.
“First time in my career I walked out of this building without seeing the stat sheet,” he said.
“Our guys felt incredible joy just about the game and the win and that’s what it should be about. ... I was a little bit surprised that JJ had 30 but I realized that he finished up really strong and a lot of the guys contributing. But unfortunately in today’s day and age you don’t have that type of evening anymore where you don’t see the stat sheet and guys immediately look at that far right corner and it starts to the youth level all the way up to our level.”
▪ The Heat, which will be paying a luxury tax this offseason if it re-signs Ellington and doesn’t trade salary, is saving $1.1 million on its cap because Dion Waiters failed to play in 70 games.
But Miami stands to have an extra charge of $1 million on its cap because Kelly Olynyk is on pace to play 1,796 minutes – well above the 1,700 needed to cash in on a $1 million bonus.
That would leave the Heat with $120 million in commitments and a $123 million tax threshold without Ellington, who entered Wednesday tied for eighth in the NBA with 197 three-pointers.