Heat vs Hawks: Duncan Robinson goes nuclear in Game 1 win over Miami, a testament to his talent and humility

MIAMI –Duncan Robinson is a professional shooter, and he rode both of those handlers into a five-year, $90 million deal last summer. The filming part is obvious, and we will come back to it shortly. But the professional part is easier to overlook.

Robinson’s shooting struggles to start this season have been well documented. He only made 32% of his first 200 3-pointers of the season. But undrafted guys who made their way to the NBA via the G League, slowly building respects over the stress of two-way contracts and inconsistent opportunities, guys who had to start their college careers playing at the of Division III? They don’t give in easily. And they have no ego.

All Robinson has is his work ethic and the quiet confidence that if he stays the course, as he always has, the shots will eventually come in. The approach certainly paid off on Sunday, when Robinson dumped a Miami postseason-record eight 3-pointers as the Miami Heat blew the gates off the Atlanta Hawks, 115-91, in Game 1 of their playoff series. first round.

“Duncan needed it,” Kyle Lowry said of Robinson’s performance. “For us, we need him as a team. We are happy for him and we have to keep building on him. For [Duncan], just keep shooting the ball like he was doing. We just need him to shoot the ball and shoot the ball with the confidence he had tonight because he shot the ball extremely confident tonight. Every shot he took looked good.”

For Robinson, every shot wasn’t just beautiful. Except one, every shot been Well. His eight 3s came on nine attempts and he was 9 for 10 overall. His 27 points are the third-highest playoff mark for a bench player in Heat history.

That’ for a bench player qualifier is an important note. On March 28, after the Heat lost four straight games, Robinson was dropped from the starting lineup. When Twitter rumors started that Robinson might be about to lose his rotation spot altogether, you knew the honeymoon period was over, as it will happen when you sign for $90 million. . People expect you to earn that kind of money. It would have been easy to accept the narrative that Robinson’s move to the bench was a late demotion rather than some sort of strategic rotational change in Erik Spoelstra’s larger plan.

“That’s one of the things I really didn’t like about making that decision. [to take Robinson out of the starting lineup]. I knew people on the outside would come to a bunch of different conclusions,” Spoelstra said after the Miami win. “In my mind, Duncan was always going to be a major factor.”

Spoelstra, as usual, was right. Rather than complaining, if only inwardly, about being stripped of his starting card, Robinson, again, was a pro at it. He came out that night and hit five of his eight 3s in a win over the Kings.

Indeed, it’s been a hectic season for Robinson, but he’s slowly progressing towards a performance like the one he put in on Sunday. He made 41% of his 3s in January, March and more than five games in April.

“This season I’ve learned a lot,” Robinson said. “A lot of different ways, a lot of different experiences. The beautiful thing about this time of year, you just have to lock yourself in with what’s in front of you. Whatever was, is in the past. Whatever I can do to help we win, I’m in. Whatever it looks like, I’m ready to join in and I’m in.

“There are challenges that come with [adjusting to a bench role], of course,” Robinson added. “For me, it took a bit of time, which is expected. I started most of my career, at least wearing this shirt. In that sense, yes, it was a bit of an adjustment. But like I said earlier, at this time of year, it’s not about who starts, this, that, whatever. It’s literally all about the outcome: can you win? Can you help your team win? One thing I know for sure, the coaching staff, the team, whatever, they want guys who are going to help them win. It could change from night to night depending on confrontational situations and all sorts of things. For me, it’s just about having the mental stability to do whatever I can to help us.”

Robinson certainly did more than his share to help the Heat win on Sunday. He won’t make eight 3-pointers in every game this series, but if he can keep shooting well, and be that off-screen, dribble-handoff quick-tapping threat that makes defenses so nervous, the Heat become a lot more difficult team to manage.