The Miami Heat are scratching for continuity, but they're far from it.
Being comfortable is often looked down upon. If someone is deemed “comfortable,” people might see them as lazy, too content, or even lacking adventure; but in basketball, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
When a basketball team is comfortable with each other, they have established a rapport—each individual player can accurately guess what the other will be doing and where he will be, possession after possession.
The Miami Heat are not comfortable with each other; they don’t know each other well enough to be. That takes time, time that the Heat have not been afforded—through injury, their continuity has been dashed. ,
Of the 30 NBA teams, 27 of them have had their most-played lineup log at least 100 minutes, according to basketball-reference.com. Of the three who have not, there is the Utah Jazz, who can’t stay healthy yet have enough talent to get by; there’s also the Philadelphia 76ers, whose best player is on a minutes restriction; then there’s the Heat, riddled with aches and pains from week to week.
Miami’s most-played lineup (95:05 minutes) features a player (Josh McRoberts) who hasn’t played since Dec. 23, 2016. And their second-most played lineup (87:14 minutes) had Justise Winslow in it, who’s out for the rest of the season (torn labrum). And it gets worse.
Miami’s next most-played unit has only played 51 minutes. That lineup featured 3-and-D guard Josh Richardson (foot); he’s out for at least two weeks, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
The most-played lineup that’s still intact? Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, James Johnson and Willie Reed. That group of guys has played 35 minutes together. And exactly zero of those guys were starters during game one of the NBA season.
It’d be an easy argument to make that Heat are suffering through the worst lineup continuity in the league, so they are far from comfortable on the court.
From night to night, Miami’s roster availability is nebulous—forget about the starting lineup. And until they get healthy, the Heat will never gain a sense of continuity, or comfort.
The current starting lineup coach Erik Spoelstra is using consists of Goran Dragic, Rodney McGruder, Dion Waiters, Luke Babbitt and Hassan Whiteside. They've played a grand total of 28 minutes together, per NBAwowy.com. They also have a Net Rating of minus-11. Sorting for Net Rating, out of 61 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes, league-wide, Miami's current starting lineup would rank No. 59 of 61.
People often say that comfort kills creativity. In basketball, a lack of comfort can kill a season.