Heat remains confident in Duncan Robinson: ‘It’s just a slump and he’ll get out of it’

·5 min read
Daniel A. Varela

The Miami Heat can’t necessarily explain what’s behind Duncan Robinson’s ongoing three-point shooting slump, but it remains confident he’ll soon find his way out of it.

Robinson scored just three points on 1-of-9 shooting from deep in Monday’s 120-111 loss to the Denver Nuggets at FTX Arena. It marked just the second time in Robinson’s NBA career that he hasn’t made more than one three-pointer when attempting nine or more threes in a game — the other coming in a Jan. 25 loss to the Brooklyn Nets last season when he shot 1 of 10 from deep.

Robinson has shot just 23.6 percent from three-point range at FTX Arena this season, compared to 38.3 percent on the road.

Without Butler and Herro, Heat falls to Nuggets. Takeaways and details from the loss

“He had some good looks tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said following Monday’s home loss to the Nuggets. “I thought he was assertive looking for his shots. He was creating some pretty good triggers for us when they were trapping him on his catches. He just has to stay with it.”

Robinson is shooting just 32.8 percent from three-point range through the first 21 games this season after making an incredible 44.6 percent of his threes in 2019-20 and 40.8 percent of his threes in 2020-21, with only Sacramento’s Buddy Hield (553) and Portland’s Damian Lillard (545) totaling more made threes than Robinson (520) in those two seasons.

Robinson’s next opportunity to end his shooting slump will be when the Heat (13-8) hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-10) on Wednesday at FTX Arena (7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Sun).

“Duncan knows exactly what he’s doing,” Heat teammate Max Strus said of Robinson, who signed a five-year deal worth $90 million in free agency this past summer. “He just got paid $90 million, I think he’s good enough. So he’s an unbelievable shooter. He’ll be fine. Trust me, it will all come around. It’s just a slump and he’ll get out of it.”

The positive sign is that Robinson’s struggles haven’t deterred him, as he’s averaging a career-high 9.1 three-point attempts per game this season. Only Golden State’s Stephen Curry (13.1 threes per game) and Hield (10.7) are averaging more three-point looks.

But among the 17 players who entered Tuesday averaging at least eight three-point attempts per game this season, Robinson ranked 13th with his three-point percentage ahead of only Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (32.2 percent), Boston’s Jayson Tatum (31.6 percent), Lillard (30.2 percent) and Utah’s Jordan Clarkson (29.9 percent).

This comes after Robinson shot 42.7 percent on 8.4 three-point attempts per game in the previous two seasons — his first two full NBA seasons. Curry is the only player in NBA history who has shot 42 percent or better from deep on eight or more three-point attempts per game during his career.

“I know Duncan is a heck of a shooter,” Heat guard Kyle Lowry said. “We all understand what he is, what he’s doing and how he can get the ball off and how many shots he can make.”

So many of Robinson’s shots in past seasons came off of handoffs and that’s still the case. But he’s shooting just 29.8 percent on those opportunities this season after hitting 38.5 percent of those shots last season.

There are some differences, though, with the type of shots Robinson has taken this season.

Robinson has attempted about one more spot-up shot per game this season compared to last season and is getting more looks from the corners. About 28.4 percent of his shot attempts have been corner three-pointers compared to only 17.4 percent last season.

That’s part of the adjustment that comes with playing with a new point guard in Lowry and a somewhat new-look Heat offense that includes more isolation and post-up situations than recent seasons.

“I think just right now, we don’t need to necessarily keep feeding him and pushing him to get going,” Lowry said when asked about Robinson’s shooting slump. “But we got to find more opportunities for him to get more standstill threes and threes where defenders are not as close to him. Maybe we kind of just let him play decoy for a little bit and get him some shots, the easier ones.

“A lot of our offense is him moving and getting open and getting handoffs from Bam [Adebayo] and getting shots off. Who knows, we may need to just say, ‘Hey, singles-side tag. If someone helps off you, you knock it down.’ Who knows. It’s not my decision. Those are just thoughts.”

INJURY REPORT

The Heat listed Adebayo (right thumb sprain), Jimmy Butler (tail bone contusion) and Dewayne Dedmon (right knee contusion) as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers. Adebayo and Dedmon played Monday against the Nuggets, but Butler missed the contest because of his tail bone injury.

Tyler Herro is probable to play on Wednesday after missing the past two games while he was sick.

Marcus Garrett (G League assignment), Markieff Morris (whiplash) and Victor Oladipo (right knee injury recovery) remain out for the Heat.

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