The Philadelphia 76ers drew and defeated the Miami Heat 2-2 in their semifinals series on Sunday night 116-108. The momentum in this series has turned completely in Philly’s favor, and it’s no secret why. Joel Embiid’s return coupled with Miami missing 51 three-pointers in the last two games has made this a streak. One aspect of the matchup that remains a mystery, however, is Duncan Robinson’s disappearance from the Heat’s rotation.
Robinson hasn’t been great lately. Sure, it sounds easy enough. But Robinson was never a “great player”. However, he was a good role player who can hit timely shots. In Game 1 of the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Robinson scored 27 points and hit eight of nine threes. Since then, his minutes have dwindled to the point where Robinson barely took off his warm-up gear against the Sixers. Talk about a quick fall.
In that big Game 1 vs the Hawks, Robinson played 23 minutes. He never eclipsed 15 minutes in this series again. Through four games of this series against Philly, Duncan played a whopping 55 seconds that went into garbage time during Game 2. That’s not even enough time to break a sweat on the pitch. It’s one thing to be in the kennel, but that’s ridiculous. And let’s not forget, Robinson signed a five-year, $90 million deal last summer. Less than a year later, he’s not getting any playing time in the postseason.
The way the Heat have struggled to kick the ball in back-to-back games suggests we’ll be seeing Robinson anytime soon. But in a tight Game 4 that seemed like only Jimmy Butler could get into a bucket, Robinson never came close to entering the game. Towards the end of the fourth quarter, Robinson was shown on the sidelines, still wearing his white long-sleeved Heat shirt over his uniform. I kept thinking, ‘These guys can’t hit a three, so Erik Spoelstra might as well throw him out of there.” But it never happened.
Miami has a roster that can go nine deep in a game. But in the postseason, many coaches shorten their rotations. But for the Heat, most of the players taking the minutes that previously went to Robinson aren’t showing up. Victor Oladipo returned to the team in March, but he’s been fickle at best in these playoffs. Max Strus played 30 minutes in Game 4 and scored six points. Kyle Lowry doesn’t seem to be staying healthy and looks completely out of shape.
Gabe Vincent has played 25 minutes in the last two games and scored two points overall.
It’s amazing to see how Robinson doesn’t even get an opportunity. The Heat failed to reach the South Beach sea in games three and four. I know Duncan isn’t a star but Coach Spo and the Heat need a spark right now and I wouldn’t care where it came from. Miami led that series 2-0 and now it’s a tie and that’s what it looks like Butler is the only player who fights back.
I know coaches don’t like to base their rotations on how much money players are making. But when you’ve got a $90 million guy in the bench and your team is in a shootout, maybe it’s time to crack down on your own philosophy. Robinson shot 37.2% from behind the arc in the regular season. Miami could have used that in the last two games, where they averaged 21.5%.
Robinson won’t win this series for the Heat alone, but to be completely outside of their rotation is absurd. Game 5 is Wednesday, and it’s a Miami must. Robinson’s representatives even got involved Tweet today, posting about a game during the 2020 NBA Finals where their client scored seven 3-pointers. Hopefully Spoelstra sees that for Robinson and accepts the hint. Deploy Duncan and see if he can break free. After all that, I have a feeling we’re going to see Robinson in Game 5 in Miami. The Heat don’t have much left to lose after missing 51 three-pointers in two games.