Goran Dragic figured he’d see plenty of Robert Covington in the playoffs.
The lengthy Philadelphia 76ers’ forward, and one of the NBA’s best defenders, once again drew the assignment of disrupting Miami’s veteran point guard.
And like most of the Heat’s best scorers during Saturday’s lopsided Game 1, Dragic had a hard time finding any offensive rhythm.
Dragic finished with 15 points, but shot 4 of 14 from the field and 1 of 10 on shots inside the three-point line.
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Dragic said during Sunday’s practice he felt the Heat needed to keep moving the ball with more purpose when setting up pick and rolls in order to counter Covington and the Sixers’ ability to keep the Heat from finding open shots.
“We need to run action with purpose not just to have one pick and roll and then the ball stops,” Dragic said. “We need to move the ball and try to get great triggers. We watched the video. When we didn’t get a trigger we were in trouble, we didn’t move the ball well. With their size they kind of forced us to take back shot.”
Dragic, who led the Heat in scoring (17.3 points per game) and shot 45 percent from the field during his first All-Star season, shot under 35 percent twice and under 50 percent all four times against the Sixers in Miami’s four regular season meetings while being guarded by Covington most of the time.
Dragic went 4 of 12 (33.3 percent) with 10 points and finished a minus-22 in the team’s first game on Feb. 2 in Philly. He shot 6 of 14 (42.9 percent) with 18 points the second time also in Philadelphia on Feb. 14. His best was an 8 for 17 (47.1 percent) performance on Feb. 27 in Miami. He then shot 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) in the final meeting on March 8th.
In fairness, Covington has given numerous players trouble with his ability to get hands in the passing lanes.
At 6-9, Covington is one of the league’s most disruptive players, leading the NBA this season in overall deflections (308) and average deflections per game (3.9). As a team, the Sixers ranked fourth in the league in deflections with 15.4 per game.
Covington did not have any of the Sixers’ 13 deflections in Saturday’s game, but he did block three shots.
Dragic, who sat out two of the Heat’s final four games of the regular season due to a sore knee and ankle, scored only two points in the paint on Saturday on 1 of 7 shooting from five feet in after shooting 57.2 percent on the 367 shots he took within that space during regular season). He averaged 7.6 points per game in the paint this season.
According to Second Spectrum, Dragic was 4 of 9 on uncontested shots and 0 for 5 on contested shots. Dragic shot 2 of 10 from the field in his last regular season game against Oklahoma City.
“I just have to be more detailed, try to be more focused when the screen is coming,” Dragic said. “Try to lure him in and kind of make separation and then attack from there.”