In some ways, being an unknown was an easier NBA existence for Duncan Robinson, when the Miami Heat 3-point specialist was out of mind and therefore out of sight of the defense.
But with reputation firmly established after a breakout season, there also now is an established following among the league’s leading defenders. And that means nights like Tuesday’s series-opening 117-114 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, when he closed 2 of 7 from the field, with all of the attempts from beyond the arc.
“Obviously, in the playoffs there’s going to be additional attention, game plans, adjustments, all that sort of stuff,” the second-year guard from New Castle, N.H., said after Wednesday’s practice at Disney World, amid the NBA’s pandemic quarantine. “Truthfully, I feel like I’m getting good shots. I think I’m taking good shots.
“Sometimes you do all the right things and the ball doesn’t go in. It requires adjustments on myself, also, to be more aggressive and also to make some.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra said it becomes a case of Robinson stepping up.
“He just has to continue to run his routes, with purpose, incredible persistence,” Spoelstra said, as the Heat turned their attention to Thursday’s 7 p.m. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series. “I think he could have been a lot more persistent last night. But he typically finds ways to have a better impact as a series goes on.”
While Robinson is now 2 of 9 from beyond the arc in his past two foul-marred games, he converted six 3-pointers this postseason the last time he was limited to two 3-pointers in the previous games, with both of those efforts against the Milwaukee Bucks in the previous round.
“Obviously, a lot more goes into preparation and game planning,” he said of his first playoff appearance. “So they’re going to try to scheme to take certain things away.”
Teammate and fellow outside-shooting specialist Tyler Herro said Wednesday it’s just a matter of Robinson keeping himself out of foul trouble and on the floor.
“I think for sure it’s just more having to be on the floor for a long period of time to be able to catch a rhythm,” he said. “I don’t think it was too frustrating for Duncan. But just being on the floor, the more he’s on the floor, he can obviously get more shots up, and it’s easier to catch a rhythm when you’re out there for a longer period of time.”
Robinson was limited to 17:01 of action Tuesday night, including only 3:15 in the first half, after being called for his third foul with 6:43 left in the second period, 30 seconds after re-entering and 14 seconds after converting a 3-pointer.
“I mean, his third foul, he reached,” Spoelstra said. “He said he had his hands up, but he reached. That was a foul. He just hit a three. I wanted to see three or four at that point.
“He’s got to do things with detail and not bail out. I’m sure Quinny [assistant coach Chris Quinn] is driving him probably a 100 times making him do it with his hands up with technique right now, as we speak.”
Guilty, as charged, Robinson said.
“That’s something that I certainly take responsibility for,” he said. “And I’ve got to just be smarter in those instances. It’s frustrating to just have your flow disrupted like that. But, at the same time, not everything’s going to be perfect. You just got to learn to adjust and learn from it.”