Why is Duncan Robinson not playing for Heat in NBA Playoffs? Miami’s sharpshooter has defense problem vs. 76ers

Heading into Tuesday’s Game 5 matchup with the 76ers, Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson has logged just one minute total in the second round. Yes, you read that correctly — one minute in four games.

Robinson is in Year 2 of a five-year, $90 million contract and shooting a torrid 53 percent on 3-pointers in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. He had a monster performance in the first game of the first round, then saw his playing time diminish throughout that series before racking up DNPs in the second round.

Robinson stats Points FG-FGA 3PT-3PTA +/- Minutes
Game 1 vs. Hawks 27 9-10 8-9 +16 23
Rest of NBA Playoffs 9 2-10 2-10 -15 44

After such a promising start to the 2022 NBA Playoffs, plenty of fans are wondering why Robinson isn’t playing more. Even more perplexing is that the Heat haven’t shot the ball well from 3-point range in their series against the Sixers and have their best shooter riding the bench.

They’re hitting on only 28.5 percent of their shots from deep. The shooting woes were particularly bad in Game 4, when they connected on only 20 percent of their 35 attempts.

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 was targeted when these teams faced each other during the regular season.

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 and 42 percent of their 3-pointers, respectively, during the regular season, and they are better defenders than Robinson. But they have hit only 31 percent of their shots from beyond the arc against the Sixers.

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Will Duncan Robinson play in the Heat vs. 76ers 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. He hinted after the team’s Game 4 loss that Robinson could be an option going forward.

Spoelstra’s reticence to play Robinson is understandable. The Sixers will try to target him if he’s out there. Staggering Robinson and Herro’s minutes could make it easier to hide Robinson, though.

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

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