The Miami Heat (2-2) took a hard 116-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday, May 8. Aside from Jimmy Butler dropping 40 points, the Heat’s offense could get anything going, especially when it came to shooting threes.
Miami finished the game going 7-of-35 from beyond the arc, and as the clock dwindled in the fourth quarter, NBA analysts across the league were puzzled as to why Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t at least throw in Duncan Robinson, the sharpshooter they signed to a $90 million extension this summer, to see if he could land some shots.
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ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweeted, “Heat now 5-31 from 3 in this game. Duncan Robinson just sitting there on the bench still,” while Clutch Points reporter Jason Patt asked on Twitter, “Is the refusal to play Duncan Robinson just pure stubbornness from Spo? Weird that he’s not even getting a shot. The other role guys all have stunk.”
Hot Hot Hoops reporter Naveen Ganglani tweeted, “Spo historically doesn’t change his rotations unless his hand is forced by the game. How long will he go before finally giving Duncan Robinson some minutes? The Heat have been horrible from 3 now for 3/4 games this series. And how much of a sacrifice will that be on defense?”
On Monday, May 9, Robinson’s agency put out a tweet reminding everyone how dominant Robinson was during the 2020 NBA Finals.
Erik Spoelstra Didn’t Have a Clear Answer as to Why Robinson Didn’t Get Any Minutes
During the postgame press conference on Sunday night, Spoelstra was asked if he thought about giving Robinson a chance to play considering no one was drilling any threes.
“I did, yeah,” Spoelstra answered. “And then obviously right now, you look at the percentage, that’s an easy conclusion. We still had still some good looks and we have great 3-point shooters on the team. We pride ourselves on finding different solutions to win.
“We have incredible depth and I feel for our guys that are not necessarily playing because they every night, ya know? and opportunity. We have great depth. That’s why I don’t want to come to any conclusions right now. It’s 20 minutes after the game where it’s emotional and it’s always easier to see like, ‘Oh – we shot that percent from three?’ I just want to see what’s real and what’s not.”
“I thought we still had great quality looks,” Coach Spo continued. “We’re a great three-point shooting team – we just weren’t able to knock those down. I think the bigger story was not being able to defend them, disrupt them, and keep them off the free-throw line at certain moments.”
Robinson Has Taken a ‘Professional’ Approach to Getting Benched
Prior to Game 4, Robinson opened up about falling out of the Heat’s rotation. Throughout the regular season, Robinson started 67 games before guard Max Strus took over his role in the starting lineup.
During Game 1 of the Heat vs. Hawks playoffs series, Robinson put up 27 points in 23 minutes of play. Throughout Miami’s four games against the Sixers, Robinson has played one minute.
“It has been a challenge,” Robinson said. “But it comes with the territory. It’s part of being a professional.”
Instead of playing Robinson, Spoelstra has used a four-man rotation off the bench that includes Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Victor Oladipo, and Dewayne Dedmon.
“If I’m on the court, it’s my job to play basketball to the best of my abilities and help us win. If I’m not on the court, help us win. If that’s being a supportive teammate, that’s what I do… Whatever coach needs me to do. If he tells me to go in, I go in. If he doesn’t tell me to go in, I don’t go in.”