Ethan J. Skolnick

Ethan J. Skolnick: Numbers shed light on Heat’s highs, lows early in season

Justise Winslow of the Miami Heat dunks against the Philadelphia 76ERS in the fourth quarter of a game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, November 21, 2015
Justise Winslow of the Miami Heat dunks against the Philadelphia 76ERS in the fourth quarter of a game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, November 21, 2015 pportal@elnuevoherald.com

A dozen numbers of note, one for each game that the 8-4 Heat has played, that tell the story of Miami’s season so far entering Monday’s matchup with the New York Knicks:

1.084: The number of points the Heat would average per possession, if every possession ended with Hassan Whiteside shooting two free throws, based on Whiteside’s current rate of 54.2 percent from the line. Miami’s current offensive rating, according to the NBA’s official statistics site, is 101.8 points per 100 possessions, or 1.018 points per possession. This renders the Hack-a-Side or Hack-a-San or Hack-a-Whatever strategy rather silly, especially the way that Philadelphia used it Saturday, as long as Whiteside doesn’t dip under 50 percent.

1: The number of 30-point games by Heat players this season. Just Chris Bosh, and just an exact 30, in the Nov. 10 win against the Lakers. Entering Sunday’s play, there had been 70 30-point games this season, 14 by either Stephen Curry or LeBron James. Balance is the byword for the Heat.

0: The number of 10-assist games by Heat players this season. Entering Sunday, there were 66 such games in the NBA.

1 (Part 2): The number of Dwyane Wade assists on Goran Dragic baskets this season. Although some will take that as a sign of selfishness, it speaks more to two other issues — the continued lack of on-court connection between the backcourt duo, and Dragic’s inability to make an outside shot. Dragic is making 31.9 percent of his jumpers this season, down from 35.2 percent last season and 39.5 the season prior.

96.95: The Heat’s “pace,” as measured by possessions per 48 minutes. That ranks 25th in the NBA, ahead of just San Antonio, Memphis, Cleveland, Utah and Milwaukee — and again, might be part of the problem for Dragic, who likes to play faster. (Incidentally, the Heat’s pace does accelerate to 98.59 with Dragic playing, but that would still rank 18th.)

91: The Heat’s defensive rating with Whiteside off the court, compared with 97.5 with Whiteside playing. It would seem counterintuitive that the Heat would allow more than six fewer points per possession with Whiteside sitting, especially as he averages a league-best 4.8 blocks per game and holds opponents to 5.9 percentage points under what they typically shoot. But Miami has been able to defend the pick-and-roll more aggressively with him out.

19: The number of points the Heat scores from three-point range in an average game, which ranks 27th in the NBA, ahead of just Memphis, Brooklyn and Minnesota. But opponents are averaging just a touch over 20, making Miami’s games feel like tributes to a bygone era. Golden State, by itself, averages 37 points per game from deep.

31.2: Wade’s usage rate, according to Basketball-Reference.com. The statistic measures a player’s offensive involvement, and although it still is by far the highest on the Heat (Bosh is next at 23.4), it’s down from last season, returning to the levels of the first two seasons of the Big 3.

37: Luol Deng’s minutes in the fourth quarter, ranking 10th on the team, behind one guy (Mario Chalmers) who is gone, and another (Gerald Green) who missed six games because of illness of some sort and subsequent suspension. Deng has shot well (7 of 12) in those minutes, but the Heat is a minus-16. He’s become this season’s Udonis Haslem, where he plays at the opening of each half and not much again.

110: Justise Winslow’s minutes in the fourth quarter, second on the team to Bosh (113), and the team’s most positive from a plus-minus standpoint (plus-42). Next on both counts: Tyler Johnson, with the Heat plus-32 in his 92 fourth-quarter minutes.

48: Total minutes in all quarters of all 12 games for the trio of Haslem, Chris Andersen and Amar’e Stoudemire, three reserve bigs whose roles have shrunk becaue of coach Erik Spoelstra’s choice to go small. This seems to be setting up for a trade, likely of Andersen, before the deadline.

$267,279.07: What it has cost the Heat so far, on a pro-rated basis, for the services of 2014-15 D-League callups Whiteside and Johnson, both making under $1 million for the season. For that, Miami has received 272 points, 163 rebounds, 23 assists (20 from Johnson), 16 steals and 63 blocks, and a combined 58.9 percent from the field. You won’t find better bargains on Black Friday. And like those deals, these won’t come that cheap for long.

Ethan J. Skolnick: 305-376-3483, @ethanjskolnick

Monday: Knicks at Heat

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Arena.

TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790, WAQI 710 (Spanish).

Series: Knicks lead 59-49

Scouting report: The Knicks are nearly halfway to their win total from all of last season, largely because of free agent additions Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo and No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis, who is averaging 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds already. But the offense — sometimes triangle, sometimes not — still largely runs through Carmelo Anthony (22.6 points per game).

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