It might be late in the season, but teams still have a lot to play for. The Charlotte Hornets came in looking to keep homecourt for their play-in matchup. The Miami Heat, on the other hand, looking to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Charlotte started the game off hot with a 9-0 start. They continued to give Miami fits for three quarters. Then, Miami went off in the fourth quarter and ended the night with a blowout victory. With the win, Miami moves to 52-28 for the season. Here are four takeaways from Tuesday’s win over Charlotte.
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Robinson’s Huge First Half
After Sunday’s bad performance, it looked like Duncan Robinson was possibly headed out of the rotation. Victor Oladipo, who performed well on Sunday, looked like he was ready to take Robinson’s spot. But yet, Robinson showed up on Tuesday and went off in the first half. Robinson shot 6-7 from downtown for 18 points at the half. Even though his numbers haven’t jumped out since the bench move, the looks he’s getting from downtown are more open than before. With Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro drawing more coverages, Robinson is able to get more wide-open looks. He ended the night with 21 points.
Buttler Still Shooting Well
The Butler jumpers are continuing to go down and at the perfect time too. Most importantly, Butler was efficient from the field. We all know how good of an attacker Butler is when he’s on the floor. He’s able to provide consistent rim pressure against defenses which provides opportunities for his teammates and himself to score. Now, he’s adding the mid-range and three-point jumpers to his offensive repertoire. Butler is not hesitating as much and is confidently knocking down his shots. When he’s got his jumper going, it provides so much more spacing for the team’s offense. Butler ended the night with 27 points, five rebounds, and eight assists.
Down Goes Tucker
While it was a good night for Miami, they did get bad news when P.J. Tucker went down with a right calf strain, ending his night. It’s unsure how long Tucker will be out, but Miami is now thinner at the forward spot. Tucker normally sticks with the opposing team’s best player and sometimes provides playmaking on the offensive end. Hopefully, the injury is not too serious, and he’ll be ready for the playoffs. For now, the Heat should be okay with Markieff Morris available and there are 10 days until the playoffs start. Tucker finished the night with seven points and seven rebounds.
Teams are still jockeying for playoff position as the regular season closes. As Miami gets closer to locking the top seed in the East, the eighth seed is still unaccounted for. For the last couple of weeks, there’s been talk of the Brooklyn Nets becoming Miami’s opponent in the first round. That will be the most anticipated first-round series in years. But for those who want Miami to avoid the Nets, there remains a possibility that the Nets could grab the seventh seed.
Miami could also play a role in making that happen as well. How? Miami’s next matchup is against the Atlanta Hawks, who is competing for the last two spots in the standings. If Miami beats Atlanta, it helps Brooklyn move into that 7-8 bracket in the play-in tournament. This would put Brooklyn one win away from locking up the seventh seed, but we’ll see what happens.
Next Up: The Atlanta Hawks on Friday. The game tips off at 8 pm eastern.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23