If you want to make a case that Duncan Robinson deserves playing time, you could start with the Miami Heat's first shot in Game 4 of their second-round series. In an effort to get Kyle Lowry going and exploit the Philadelphia 76ers' drop coverage, they run him off a down screen into a dribble-handoff with Bam Adebayo, but Lowry back-rims the open 3.
Lowry is an excellent shooter, but he returned from a hamstring injury in the previous game and is not close to fully healthy (he will miss Game 5 because of the hamstring problem). He has yet to make a 3-point shot in the series, and Miami as a team shot 14 for 65 (21.5 percent) in the two games at Wells Fargo Center. On Sunday, Lowry missed one of his patented pull-up 3s in transition, one with Jimmy Butler screening him wide open and one with James Harden electing to go under a screen.
Here's an easy contrast: On the first possession of their March 5 game against Philadelphia, the Heat run Robinson off a stagger screen. He lets it fly from the same spot Lowry did, with Joel Embiid watching from the same angle, and it goes in.
Robinson is one of the best shooters walking the earth, and he's completely out of the rotation. Three weeks before his DNP-CD on Sunday, he opened the playoffs by shooting 8 for 9 from deep and scoring 27 points in 23 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks. On Monday, his agency celebrated the 19-month anniversary of his 26-point performance in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals with a tweet full of emoji and subtext. I wrote about Robinson after that game, noting how he scrambles defenses with off-ball movement -- on one play, he made two Los Angeles Lakers defenders run into each other.
Philadelphia's defense has not looked similarly flummoxed, at least when its 7-foot anchor has been on the floor. It has been unafraid to play zone, to trap Tyler Herro and to drop against almost anybody else. Adebayo, whose two-man game with Robinson used to be a staple of the Heat's attack, has struggled to create advantages against Embiid one-on-one, and on Sunday they put him on the court for every minute that Embiid sat.
Butler dropped 40 points in 42 minutes in Game 4, but it wasn't enough. Given how poorly everybody else has been shooting, shouldn't coach Erik Spoelstra have put Robinson out there?
"Obviously right now you know you look at the percentage, that's an easy conclusion," Spoelstra said post-game. "But we still had some really good looks."
Spoelstra said that he thought about subbing Robinson in. He acknowledged that Robinson could potentially help Adebayo. But he was more concerned about the other end of the floor.