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Mailbag: What does Heat need and how will Duncan Robinson’s role change when Tyler Herro returns?

The Miami Herald’s Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions. If you weren’t able to ask this time, send your questions for future mailbags via X (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email them in to achiang@miamiherald.com.

@MrEd315: In your opinion, what does the Heat need to do to step up its team game?

Anthony Chiang: First, let’s not diminish what the Heat has done through the first 21 games. The Heat enters Friday’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 12-9 record despite having its leading trio of Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro all available for just six games while also playing an NBA-high 13 road games. Things could definitely be much worse for Miami right now.

But as far as your question, a shorter injury list would help. Injury issues have already forced the Heat to use a league-leading 14 different starting lineups in the first 21 games. And, as previously mentioned, the Heat’s three best players have not had an opportunity to play together much yet this season because of injuries.

Also, better defense would help. The Heat, which has has finished with a top-10 defensive rating in seven of the last eight seasons, enters Friday with the NBA’s 15th-ranked defense rating this season. To compete for a top-four seed in the East, Miami will likely have to again find its way back into the top 10 in that category.

Finally, better fourth quarters would also make things look better. The Heat has a positive first-quarter net rating, second-quarter net rating and third-quarter net rating, but has the NBA’s fourth-worst fourth-quarter net rating (outscored by 11.2 points per 100 possessions in the final period) this season.

@johnmitri14: Update on Tyler Herro? What do you think Duncan Robinson’s role would be when Tyler returns?

Anthony: Herro’s rehab and recovery process continues and the expectation remains that he will be back at some point in December. As for Robinson, he’ll still have a big role when Herro returns. Robinson may not be in the starting lineup when Herro is back, but Robinson will still be a key part of the Heat’s rotation whether it’s off the bench or in the starting unit.

The bottom line is the Heat’s offense needs Robinson’s skill set as a three-point shooter who serves as the ultimate floor spacer for Adebayo and Butler. Among the 32 players around the league who entered Friday averaging seven or more three-point attempts per game this season, Robinson owns the second-best three-point percentage at 43.6 percent behind only Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton. Then throw in Robinson’s improvement as a passer (averaging a career-high 2.9 assists per game) this season, ball-handler and finisher around the basket, and he’s again a must-play guy in the Heat’s rotation even when Herro returns.