In Game 6, the Miami Heat were able to prevail over the Raptors. They looked much better than the Raptors on both ends and were able to win despite their size disadvantage. Or was it actually a size advantage?
The Miami Heat went with a starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, and Justise Winslow. Yep, you got that right, Justise Winslow was the starting center for the Heat in Game 6. The Raptors decided not to match their small ball lineup and started Patrick Patterson and Bismack Biyombo in their front-court. The shocking part of these lineups is that Toronto didn’t dominate the Heat in the paint like you thought they would.
The Raptors only out-rebounded the Heat by 2 rebounds (43-41), they scored only two more points in the paint than the Heat (46-44), and actually had two less blocks than Miami (6-4). All in all, it was pretty even down-low. With Hassan Whiteside being ruled out for Game 7 already, it may be prudent for Miami to start Winslow at center once again.
Aside from the success that the Heat had in the paint, the main success that came from the small-ball lineup was the space on the floor it created. Goran Dragic was able to be so much more productive work with the greater space that was allotted to him on the court. Everyone on the Heat seemed to benefit in some way.
On Friday you saw almost every Heat player guarding Biyombo at least once during the game. The reason? They are able to switch on every pick and trust that there are still no significant mismatches.
Justise Winslow is a terrific defender and can pretty much guard any position on the floor. Starting Winslow and trusting that the rookie can come up big in Game 7 seems like a warranted risk given that it worked so well in Game 6.