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Heat’s Duncan Robinson learns his time and place, finding solace in new space – The Denver Post

This is a skewed statistic that is not included. You won’t find Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry or Bam Adebayo on this list.

But Where You’ll Find Duncan Robinson is second to only one, this one being the presumptive sixth NBA Man of the Year.

No, Duncan Robinson never knocked on Erik Spoelstra’s door in the FTX Arena coaches suite and demanded a move to the second team. It was a gesture, Robinson would later acknowledge, that led to soul-searching.

And yet only two Heat players have averaged double-digit points off the bench this season, One, NBA Sixth Man Award runner-up Tyler Herro averaged a league-best 20.8 in 56 games as a reserve. The other, Robinson, had a 10.2 average, a second-team second-team caffeine jolt that Spoelstra was expected to put on the line.

So when Sunday’s playoff opener rolled around, Robinson had 27 points in the 115-91 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks. Because these days, ever since Spoelstra realigned his rotation on March 28, with a season-ending 6-1 result, that’s what Robinson has been doing.

“This season I’ve learned a lot, a lot of different ways, a lot of different experiences,” Robinson said, with the Heat turning their attention to Tuesday’s Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. at FTX Arena in the best-of-seven NBA playoffs. of the first round. “The beautiful thing about this time of year is that you just have to focus on what’s in front of you, whatever was is in the past.

“And anything I can do to help us win, that’s what I do. And whatever that looks like, I’m ready to buy into it and I’m buying into it.

Until Spoelstra rearranged the rotation in late March, Robinson had started every game the past two seasons, with 209 starts in his first 228 NBA appearances. It wasn’t the back and forth on the bench that Herro and others have experienced.

Robinson hesitated when asked if the transition was difficult, then offered perspective.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say tough,” he said after shooting 8 of 9 from 3-point range in Game 1, a franchise playoff record for conversions. “There are challenges that come with it, for sure. Difficulty is relative. So for me it took a bit of time, which is expected.

“I started most of my career, at least wearing this shirt. So in that sense, yeah, it’s a bit of an adjustment.

Spoelstra felt comfortable with the strategic elements of change that propelled Max Strus into the top five. Where he struggled was with the perception that the move would be viewed from the outside, so to speak, as a demotion.

“That’s one of the things I really didn’t like about that decision because I knew outside people would jump to a bunch of different conclusions,” Spoelstra said. “In my mind, Duncan was always going to be a major factor. I don’t have to explain it. But he had some amazing moments, that nobody pays attention to or focuses on the wrong thing, you know, who. starts or not. It doesn’t matter, I don’t care.

“He’s had these incendiary moments where he can switch quarters, hit one or two, and then all of a sudden he feels like he’s hit six. I understand all the stories out there. This is the hardest part of this case. But Duncan is very stable. He understands that even if he comes off the bench, he still has a major opportunity to impact the game.

Which he did with his 11 points in the second quarter on Sunday, a quarter when the Heat effectively put the game aside.

“There’s a little adjustment to who I’m with there, playing time, that sort of thing,” he said. “In some ways, that can be an advantage. I feel like I’m a little less prepared for [by the opposition]. You can still have those first two possessions or maybe they’re not accurate in terms of who’s guarding whom. So I try to take advantage of it when I can.

Otherwise, he said it was the same as in his 68 regular season starts, when he averaged 11 points.

“In a lot of ways when I’m on the pitch, my role is what it is,” he said. “So apart from playing time when I’m there and who I play with, that’s really the only thing that changes. The way I play shouldn’t really change.


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