Miami Heat: Justise Winslow’s absence noticeable across last two games

Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat looks on prior to a game against the Golden State Warriors(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat looks on prior to a game against the Golden State Warriors(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat were fortunate enough to win their last two games, although there’s a noticeable pattern occurring. This is where Justise Winslow comes in.

The Miami Heat are off to the kind of start that has you thinking things. Things like contention, at least for the Conference, with an “anything can happen” approach beyond that.

With that thought comes the ebbs and flows of the season that every team must go through in order to possibly and ultimately have a chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season. This one for the Miami Heat is no different.

Although off to a flawless 11-0 start on their home floor as apart of an 18-6 overall record, the Miami Heat have dealt with their fair share of injury woes and absences to start the season. One of the main players afflicted a ton thus far this season has been Justise Winslow.

Winslow has missed time this season for a few things. He missed two games near the end of October with a lower back issue. He then came back for one game, a game against the Denver Nuggets, where he had a head-on collision with Paul Milsap which caused him to miss time.

He missed nine games associated with the concussion-related issues before ultimately returning against Houston on November 27, after 22 days of not playing a game. He would play the next four games after the Houston contest before missing the game against Washington on December 6th due to what is listed as a more specific lower back issue, a “lower back strain”.

With Winslow being in and out, out and then back in, playing with the first unit and then the second unit, and out for such periods and back for such games with certain matchups, it really gives you a chance to analytically compare and contrast some things about the players and their teams. Specifically, with Winslow intermittently missing time as he has, giving such large chunks or sample sizes of time with him not in the lineup but returning for big matchups and subsequently having to match up against certain players, you can see how he positively affects the team.

In this past Sunday’s game against the Bulls, one of the Heat’s big problems was stopping the Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen dribble drive from the top of the key or free throw line to three-point area, straight down to the basket. Not only does Justise Winslow do a good job of limiting the drive straight down from the top of the key, as he is often guarding the main ball-handler, he is also big enough to stop or defend a big such as Markkanen should there be a need to do so.

His defensive presence was not only evidently missed against the Bulls, but also against the Atlanta Hawks. For much of the game, Trae Young had his way attacking from the top of the key and in the middle of the floor, until the Miami Heat started to double him or put a long but quick defender in front of him in Derrick Jones Jr. The thing about Justise Winslow is that he is that somewhat long yet quick enough defender, that would have alleviated the need for a double team at any point you would like to believe.

With the Lakers coming into town, you have to be wary of the top of the key penetration. LeBron James will be the guy controlling the ball, for crying out loud.

While there is nothing that can be said as far as stopping him, as he still really can’t be stopped, Justise Winslow would be of great help in that scenario. He is listed as out for this game on Friday, but there will be future matchups.

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The trade rumors are going to pop up soon, but his immense value is evident. Teams will certainly continue to mark their calendars for when they face the Miami Heat, as it already seems that way based on the last few matchups, so it would be great if he were healthy like… yesterday. Either way, they really need him healthy because you can really start to see what the Heat are missing when he’s not in the lineup.