Duncan Robinson ready to play again as Miami Heat, rest of NBA arrive in Orlando

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The National Basketball Association is getting ready to complete its 2019-20 season inside the bubble that is the Walt Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Duncan Robinson said that he and his Miami Heat teammates are ready to go and ready for the challenge.

"I was always in the camp of, if my teammates were going to go play, I was absolutely going to go play," Robinson said. "I think the league, our organization and all the organizations have done a good job of prioritizing player health. Obviously, there's no perfect scenario, but they've done a good job in doing the best that they can in ensuring player safety."

Robinson, his Miami teammates, and the rest of the 22-team field to play for an NBA championship arrived in Orlando on Wednesday. The Heat will play Denver in their first of eight "seeding games" on Aug. 1.

The players and coaches have been waiting since mid-March to play. That was when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the league, as well as every other sport.

The 22 teams will play eight games from Aug. 1-14 to determine seedings for the tournament. Each tournament round will be best-of-seven, and a champion will eventually be crowned in October.

"It's been kind of a unique time for everybody," the former Williams College All-American said in an interview with The Eagle. "Everyone's been forced to make adjustments, kind of change their habits and everything like that.

"I've spent a lot of time inside, trying to develop a routine and staying safe."

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Miami heads into the eight-game schedule with a 41-24 record, which would make the Heat the No. 4 seed in the East.

The playoffs will involve the top eight teams in each conference, playing a traditional best-of-seven series. So, since the Heat are currently 5 1/2 games behind second-place Toronto and 2 1/2 games behind No. 3 Boston, Robinson and his teammates could potentially get up to the No. 2 seed behind Milwaukee. The Bucks lead Toronto by 6 1/2 games.

"I do think as a group, we're all excited about getting back to playing," he said. "I think that also, we're kind of using this as a potential opportunity to gain a competitive advantage because we feel that whatever team is able to lock in and focus on what's important and prioritize winning will have an advantage and be able to mitigate distractions.

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"It's definitely something that we're locked in on, and hopefully to put to fruition in Orlando."

The Heat won't practice as a team until they all arrive in Orlando, quarantine for 48 hours and take two negative tests, then the players will be released into the "bubble," to begin working out.

And while Robinson hasn't been involved in a full practice since the pandemic hit, he said he doesn't anticipate needing a long time to find his shooting touch, a touch that has turned the former Eph and Michigan Wolverine into one of the NBA's top long-range shooting threats.

"Obviously, there will be an adjustment, working back to being comfortable in game situations again," Robinson said. "I'm excited for it, for sure."

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Robinson is in his second season, and first full year with the Heat when the NBA came to a screeching halt in March.

He had averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, shooting 46 percent from the floor and 90 percent from the free throw line. He also had a 44.8 shooting percentage from outside the 3-point line. According to basketball-reference.com, Robinson is one of seven players to shoot at least 200 treys in their first two seasons while shooting better than 43 percent. In fact, over two seasons, he is shooting 43.8 percent from outside the 3-point arc.

Ten times in the current season, Robinson scored 20 points or more. He had a game to remember on Dec. 10, scoring 34 points in a win over Atlanta. He was 12 for 16 from the field, 10 for 14 from beyond the arc.

"Obviously, the year has a little bit of a whirlwind. It kind of escalated quickly in terms of probably not having much of a role and then starting to develop more of one," he said. "Even during this time, there's been a little bit of time to reflect. But it's also about just continuing on kind of what's next. That's always been my mindset on everything. It is humbling, a lot of times, to hear the things that are being said about me.

"At the same time, I'm really focused on what's next, which is obviously an opportunity to compete in Orlando."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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