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Miami Heat mailbag: Why is Wayne Ellington not playing?

The Miami Herald’s Heat mailbag will be a weekly that is here to answer your questions about the team.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email me at achiang@miamiherald.com.

@iamtzamac: Wayne Ellington needs to be out there to have better flow on offense. What’s the holdup?

Anthony Chiang: Good question. It’s surprising that Wayne Ellington hasn’t played yet. One explanation could be he’s not 100 percent healthy or in game shape yet after a left ankle injury forced him to miss the first four games of the season. But coach Erik Spoelstra said Ellington is ready to play, but there just hasn’t been enough minutes for him.

Considering the Heat went into the luxury tax to keep Ellington this summer, this wasn’t expected. You usually go into the tax to retain players who will have consistent and important roles. But Miami went 10 deep in Tuesday’s loss to Charlotte, and Ellington was still left out of the rotation. Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, Dwyane Wade, Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr. were the five players used off the bench against the Hornets. One could make the argument that Ellington deserves to play over Johnson, who has had a quiet start to the season (8.3 points on 40.7 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent shooting from three-point range).

Just remember, it’s early. Very early. Ellington has been available for just three games. Give Spoelstra some time. Ellington is too good of a shooter, in an NBA that values three-pointers more than ever, to not get minutes on a team that needs more offense. One comparison that could be made is what happened with James Jones over the final few seasons of his Heat career. Jones played a limited role because his defense didn’t match his quality three-point shooting. But that was on a Heat team that included other elite shooters like Ray Allen and Shane Battier. In Ellington’s case, he’s pretty much the only “three-point specialist” on the Heat’s roster. There are no other options to play in front of him.

Ajith: Is the Heat playing too fast? They tried to keep up with the Kings and it didn’t work.

Anthony: No. The Heat is ranked in the middle of the league when it comes to pace, at 14th with an average of 102.7 possessions per 48 minutes. That’s probably about where Miami should be. That number is up from 96.2 possessions last season, but pace is up around the NBA. In Monday’s loss to the Kings, though, the Heat did play too fast. Miami played Sacramento’s style and just couldn’t keep up. The Heat used 110 possessions against the Kings. That’s not Miami’s game. Instead, the Heat has to try to make up-tempo teams like the Kings play its more methodical style.

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