Justise Winslow doesn't limit film study to game plans or his own performances.
He’s a fan of the “classics” and recently spent a few hours on his iPad sifting through old playoff highlights of teammates Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.
“I’m a student of the game," Winslow, 22, said Wednesday after he and teammate Josh Richardson were the final two Heat players to walk off the court following practice – some 30 minutes after their teammates had cleared out.
“I’m always watching ESPN classics, just the 80s, 90s, how physical it was. They don’t let us play that physical, but it's definitely increased in the physicality, the intensity. The refs let you play a little bit more in the playoffs.”
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Winslow, Miami’s 2015 first round pick, has not only enjoyed his newfound wiggle room to make more of his presence felt on the defensive end, he's also developed a bit of an old-school nasty side.
“I can be the bad guy if that means winning,” Winslow said with a grin after he was asked if he enjoyed receiving the boos he did from the Sixers crowd Monday for barking a few obscenities at rookie Ben Simmons after drawing a charging foul against him in the first half.
“I love it,” Winslow continued. “Growing up I played on all types of teams that would just press and defend and run around with our heads chopped off. But this is more organized obviously in the NBA. It's fun sometimes when you get to go back to that and just go out there and make plays defensively. It’s kind of in my nature.”
Although he has not defended the 6-10, 230-pound Simmons as much as James Johnson has in this series (Johnson has guarded him for 71 possessions compared to 31 for Winslow), Winslow’s full court pressure on the Rookie of the Year candidate set the defensive tone for Miami in Game 2.
Simmons finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, but the Heat disrupted the ease in which he and the Sixers offense flowed.
“I just tried to get into his body, force him to trust his dribble and when he attacked the basket he pushed off and they called the offensive foul,” Winslow said of what happened on his signature play in Game 2.
“The first game we didn’t really understand the intensity we needed to bring. That's what we brought the second game. Just raising everything to another level, our intensity, our focus and we ended up getting the win.”
Winslow said he has friends on the Sixers roster. But when he lines up inside the white lines, he says, “I don't like them. I don't like them at all.”
Simmons isn’t a friend, Winslow said. He’s an acquaintance.
“In international play we played a little against each other,” he said. “So we know each other.”
So far in the series, Winslow and Richardson have been the Heat’s two best one-on-one defenders.
According to Second Spectrum, the NBA’s stat tracking system, the Sixers have made only 9 of the 31 shots they’ve taken (29 percent) on shots Winslow has defended in this series. Only Richardson (7 of 25, 28 percent) has done a better job making sure Sixers shot haven’t gone through the hoop.
Individually, Simmons and Dario Saric are 2 of 6 on shots when Winslow has guarded him. Marco Belinelli (1 of 5) and Ersan Ilyasova (1 of 3) haven’t shot well either when Winslow has drawn them on the defensive side.
“It's a long series,” Winslow said. “They're going to make adjustments. We’re going to have to adjust to what they’re going to try to do the next game. I was going back and forth with some of their guys during Game 1 when we were getting blown out, telling them it’s a long series. We could potentially have five more games. That’s a lot. So, we've just got to take it one game at a time and adjust on the fly from time out to time out and just take their best blows.”
Winslow said he felt like the Heat took too many chances going for steals in the fourth quarter of Game 2 and it helped the Sixers trim a 16-point deficit to 98-96 with under five minutes to play.
“Nobody is going to get mad at anybody for getting a steal,” Winslow said. “But if you're going to go for it you better get it.”
Dwyane Wade, one of Winslow’s mentors during his first playoff run two years ago, ultimately ended up saving the Heat in Game 2. Winslow said he’s enjoyed going through his second playoff run with Wade again.
“It's been great having him back ever since the trade deadline,” Winslow said. “Just picking his brain, even like a day like today, talking about how they might cover us defensively. Just seeing how he sees the floor and what he's thinking, probing, it's great to have a mind like that to lean on for me in my young career.
“He’s been helpful with Xs and Os and also just how to prepare for a playoff series. How mentally to come in and watch film and become almost a coach in the way you see a series, see the adjustments. So, it's been great seeing him, hearing his voice in film sessions and just having him around.”
The Heat can say the same about having Winslow on the defensive end.