Why is Duncan Robinson not playing for Heat in NBA Playoffs? Miami's sharpshooter has defense problem

Why is Duncan Robinson not playing for Heat in NBA Playoffs? Miami's sharpshooter has defense problem

Duncan Robinson is one of the best shooters in the NBA. He finished in the top 10 in the league with 232 3-pointers during the regular season, and he’s an excellent 40.6 percent shooter from deep for his career. So why is he barely playing in the 2022 NBA Playoffs?

Robinson had regular rotational minutes off the bench in all of the Heat’s first-round games against the Hawks. But in the seven games since, he has logged 18 total minutes of action.

Robinson is in Year 2 of a five-year, $90 million contract and shooting a torrid 47.8 percent on 3-pointers in the NBA Playoffs. He had a monster performance in the first game of the first round, then experienced a big drop-off across the board.

So, to the obvious question…

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Why isn’t Duncan Robinson playing for the Heat?

Robinson can help with the Heat’s shooting issues, but he hasn’t seen much floor time because of his defensive limitations. He can’t stay in front of talented offensive scorers, oftentimes conceding unimpeded layups to his assignments.

The Heat already have one weak perimeter defender in Tyler Herro. It’s tough to hide both Herro and Robinson at the same time.

When those two shared the court during the regular season, the Heat gave up 114.4 points per 100 possessions, per PBP Stats. When Herro was on the floor without Robinson, that number shrank to a much better 107.5 points per 100 possessions.

Rather than playing Robinson, the Heat have significantly increased minutes for Max Strus and Victor Oladipo. They hit 41.0 and 41.7 percent of their 3-pointers, respectively, during the regular season, and they are better defenders and playmakers than Robinson.

Strus had steadily been cutting into Robinson’s minutes throughout the season and has developed into a very solid player for the Heat. Oladipo’s return from injury shortly before the NBA Playoffs started was the move that firmly pushed Robinson out of the rotation.

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Will Duncan Robinson play in the Heat vs. Celtics series?

The Heat may benefit from more consistent shooting that Robinson could bring.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has indicated a willingness to be flexible with his lineups. After his team was struggling to shoot during its second-round matchup with the Sixers, Spoelstra hinted that Robinson could be an option going forward. Spoelstra did play him briefly in two games before taking him out of the rotation again.

Spoelstra’s reticence to play Robinson is understandable. The Heat win games based on the strength of their defense. Teams will try to target him if he’s out there, and the Heat have been bleeding points in those situations. Staggering Robinson and Herro’s minutes could make it easier to hide Robinson, though.

Bottom line: If the Heat are shooting poorly, then Spoelstra might have to put Robinson on the court and live with what happens on defense.