Erik Spoelstra after Heat’s impressive win over Thunder
A six-pack of Heat notes on a Wednesday:
▪ Is there any NBA backup guard combination better than Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade? Highly doubtful.
What’s encouraging is not only how well they’re playing, but how well they’re playing together.
Even before helping the Heat to the second-round of the playoffs in their first year together (2015-16), the Heat was outscored by 28 points when they were on the court together that season.
Now, the Heat is typically winning the minutes when they play together. During the past five games, Miami has outscored teams by 38 when Dragic and Wade are on the floor together — the best two-man combo on the team.
For the season, they’re a plus-32 in 270 minutes together. And during both the past five games and past 10 games, Miami is averaging 114 points per 48 minutes when they’re on the court together.
“When I came to Miami, we had some struggles at the beginning, but then, we figured it out,” Dragic said. “It’s been much easier.”
In Monday’s win at Oklahoma City, Dragic and Wade combined for 51 points and 16 assists and Miami outscored the Thunder by 18 points in their 25 minutes together.
This marks the first time in Heat history that a pair of teammates each scored at least 25 points off the bench multiple times in the same season. Dragic (26) and Wade (25) did it Monday after doing it Feb. 27 against Golden State.
The NBA’s next-best backup guard combo? Perhaps Boston, with Terry Rozier alongside either Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart, whoever isn’t starting.
▪ Thanks in large part to Dragic and Wade (and with a major assist from James Johnson), Miami produced the most lopsided bench advantage in its history on Monday.
Miami outscored OKC by 57 points (67-10), surpassing the previous franchise record for largest point differential against an opposing bench, which had been plus 52, set in January 1994 at the Clippers.
▪ How good has the Heat’s bench been?
Its 3,063 bench points this season are fourth most in the NBA, and Miami’s bench has outscored opponents by 504 points, which is third best behind only the Clippers and Brooklyn.
During its last 51 games, Miami’s bench has outscored their opponent’s bench 40 times and scored at least 50 points in 19 of those games.
▪ Hassan Whiteside’s five minutes on Monday were his fewest since signing a four year, $98 million contract with the Heat in the summer of 2016 and fewest in a game since December 2014.
Erik Spoelstra instead opted to use Kelly Olynyk at center at times when Bam Adebayo was on the bench. The fact OKC was going small at times, and the fact Olynyk was playing very well, had a lot to do with that. Whiteside picked up two quick fouls but had two points and four rebounds.
▪ That bench quartet of Wade, Dragic, Whiteside and Derrick Jones Jr. has played a bit less together the past two games with Jones starting in place of the injured Winslow.
But for the season, Miami has outscored teams by 22 points in their 78 minutes as a quartet (and averaged 116 points per 48).
▪ Wade is shooting 43.6 percent from the field — far lower than his career average but not bad at all for a 37-year-old, and much better than the 35.8 percent Kobe Bryant shot in his final season.
What’s more, Wade is averaging more points off the bench (14.3) than any NBA player averaging 25.6 minutes per game or fewer.