Tim Duncan: An Unparalleled Legacy of Success

On April 19th, 2021, one of the greatest basketball players of all time retired from the game. Tim Duncan was popularly known as “The Big Fundamental” for his consistent and reliable play on offense and defense. He was a loyal member of the San Antonio Spurs for 19 seasons. 13-time NBA All-Star, 5-time NBA Champion, 2-time NBA MVP… these are just some accolades that describe the unparalleled legacy of success that Tim Duncan left behind.

The Early Years 

Tim Duncan was born in Christiansted, St. Croix, on April 25th, 1976. Even at an early age, it was clear that he had a special talent for basketball. As a high school player in St. Croix, he was named U.S. Virgin Islands Player of the Year three times and led his high school team to two consecutive undefeated seasons. He went on to attend Wake Forest University, where he won ACC Player of the Year twice and was named Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year during his senior year. 

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Tim Duncan was an incredibly consistent player throughout his career and is considered one of the best power forwards ever to play in the NBA. He averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists per game while shooting 50% from the field, an incredible achievement that gave him longevity in professional basketball. Duncan also won two MVP awards, made 15 All-Star appearances, and was named to 14 All-NBA teams. His numbers alone are enough to secure him a spot amongst the greatest players in the history of the NBA. 

A Dominant Presence on Both Offense & Defense

Tim Duncan is special because he was an effective presence in any given situation on the court. His unrivaled basketball IQ meant he could always be counted on to make the right decision with the ball in his hands. His court vision was remarkable; whether finding a cutting teammate or locating an open shooter in the corner, you could always count on him to make the right pass. This made him a walking triple-double threat no matter who his teammates were at any given time during his career.


There may never have been a better big-man defender on defense than Tim Duncan. His long arms and quick feet allowed him to guard anyone against point guards to power forwards with equal effectiveness. He had a knack for anticipating where opposing players were going with their moves and always seemed to be one step ahead of them at all times. His defensive presence was so strong that opposing teams often had to adjust their entire offensive schemes to beat him.

A Leader On & Off The Court

Tim Duncan’s leadership off the court has significantly impacted the odds on the San Antonio Spurs. He was always willing to mentor younger Spurs players both in practice and games. He always ensured they understood how important it is for everyone on the team to work together towards one goal. His teammates reveal that he would also frequently check up on them off the court by sending them motivational texts or inviting them over for dinner when they needed moral support about something outside of basketball.


In addition to being an incredible leader on and off the court, Tim Duncan also greatly impacted his community outside of basketball. He donated millions of dollars to local charities and founded several organizations dedicated to providing aid for those in need. One such initiative is Project 21, which provides educational opportunities for youth in underserved communities across San Antonio. 


His commitment to making San Antonio a better place extended far beyond sports, and he will always be remembered fondly by members of his community. 


Tim Duncan’s legacy will live forever in basketball lore, not just as one of the best players ever but also as one of its most respected ambassadors. His commitment to excellence both on and off the court set an example for generations after him and will likely never be matched again. So raise your glass or Lone Star beer (if you’re a true Spurs fan) to “The Big Fundamental” himself: Tim Duncan! A true legend among men!

Which NBA Players Have Been Spotted Gambling?

Professional athletes have always had a hard time gambling. Not only is it frowned upon by people, but sports authorities also have stringent laws to be followed. As far as basketball players go, they’re allowed to bet on sports and online casino games. They are obviously restricted from wagering on games they’re a part of, but betting on other sports is fair and legal. They can also join the best online casino 2023 to wager on classic casino titles like blackjack and poker. 

Let’s take a look at gambling within the NBA and list down some of the most famous players that enjoy betting on sports and casino games. 

Background of NBA and Gambling 

Being one of the major sports in the USA, basketball has historically been a favorite for gamblers. It is so popular, in fact, that many of the best online casinos in New Zealand also offer chances to wager on NBA events. The experts at casinotop.co.nz list the reviews of the top online platforms to select the one you like. Head to the sports betting section and you’ll see NBA games listed for you to wager on.

Betting on basketball games is popular for many reasons. The matches are fast-paced and highly competitive. The players are celebrities that people root for. And each game can turn around thanks to a single player at times. For an NBA player who enjoys gambling, part of the charm is using their own knowledge of the game to win money. 

List of NBA Players Spotted Gambling 

Sports betting isn’t just for the fans. Many top online casinos in New Zealand and beyond also welcome professional players. As for gambling in physical casinos, the following are some of the most popular names in the sport. 

Michael Jordan

Not only is he the most famous basketball player of all time, but Michael Jordan is also among the greatest gamblers on this list. He has never had any addiction to betting but rather enjoyed the competitive nature of games like poker. Jordan is known to visit Atlantic City casinos quite often. He wagers so much that he’s alleged to have lost north of $100 million on a golf game. 

Charles Barkley

Charles is an avid gambler in Vegas casinos and has lost a whole lot of cash because of his favourite pastime. But even with around $15 million dollars lost, his passion for gambling hasn’t died. Another scandal Charles found himself in was when he didn’t pay a debt of some $400,000. He also allegedly lost $2.5 million in a single blackjack game. Still, the player became more careful about his gambling habits after the lawsuit, though, and still loves the activity. 

Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker is a good example of why you should gamble in moderation. Walker loved betting and would spend whole nights at casinos. His recklessness led to him owing millions of dollars to casinos by 2009. It ended with his career getting ended and his reputation going downhill. 

Allen Iverson

Another example of how gambling addiction gets the best of you is Allen Iverson. He was a rising star among basketball players of his time. However, his addiction to poker and blackjack led to significant financial loss. It got to a point where he had to live hand to mouth and lost his career. 

Charles Oakley

Charles Oakley is among the most tenacious basketball players who love casino gambling. He enjoys winning and hates to lose. His competitive side came through once when he pulled all his chips back from the table when about to lose. As a result, the player was banned from the casino. He also got into a fight with someone who owed him over $50 thousand. This happened during a preseason NBA game, so the NBA fined him for $10 thousand for this. 

JR Smith

Smith’s passion for gambling became evident when a suitcase filled with thousands of dollars was discovered by thieves. When asked by the authorities why he had so much cash, he told them it was his gambling money. Strange as that may sound, it shows just how much this basketball player loves to gamble. Like some of the others on this list, Smith has also lost a lot of money. Since he has always gambled within the regulations of the NBA, he hasn’t faced any resulting issues. 

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq is famous not only for being a great NBA player but also for being an avid gambler. He loves casino games and stakes massive amounts of money on them sometimes. The legend once admitted to Jimmy Kimmel that his minimum bet starts from $100. He has also mentioned once betting $1 million on a dice roll which is nothing short of incredible. 

Seth Curry

Stephen Curry’s brother Seth plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Fans have seen him on multiple occasions at different Vegas and LA casinos. He finds casino games fun and has been playing them within NBA’s regulations for a long time. 

To Sum Up 

Just like normal people who love casino games, many NBA players also enjoy titles like poker, blackjack, and even slots. Betting is completely legal for a basketball player as long as it’s done within the limits set by the NBA. From the examples above it is obvious how many sport legends love to wager their money on games and sports alike. It is also easy to see how much of it can lead to the destruction of one’s career and personal life. So, if your favorite basketball player inspires you to try gambling, be sure to go slow and enjoy the activity. 

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Grizzlies

The Miami Heat took care of business on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Hot three point shooting, early Jimmy Butler cooking, and one of their best offensive games of the season.

Some takeaways….

#1: Another night of early Jimmy Butler dominance.

Jimmy Butler came out in the opening quarter and put up a quick 12 points as he played the entire first quarter. The thing about those 12 points: 8 of those were free throws. He was getting to any spot he wanted when flowing downhill, and did his usual barreling into defenders to get to the line. Even though Jimmy Butler said the other day “Playoff Jimmy” isn’t a thing, I’m going to very quickly deny that statement: it’s a thing. He’s been seeming to really ramp up over the last week or so offensively, since you can slowly notice the volume rising. The key to a lot of this, though, is that he’s doing it with such ease. It just simply never feels forced. The moment it crosses the line of forced is when things can get sticky, but he’s just playing incredibly good basketball right now.

#2: Kyle Lowry anchoring the offense in his new bench role?

I’m going to talk the new look rotation next, but the role for Kyle Lowry didn’t change at all. Actually the thing that has changed the most as of late for him is the quality of play. The first half of the season, the adjective I kept using to describe him was “uncomfortable,” but this new back-up role has flipped that. The bench lineups have been atrocious, and he really settled that group tonight. Generating great ball movement for the offensive process, getting some paint touches, and just playing in his ideal, calm manner. Of course some relief triples would be huge from him in his role, but the secondary attacks might be even more crucial. If he’s willing to put his head down once or twice when that ball is swinging, that group should be in a good spot.

#3: Let’s take a dive into this new look Heat rotation tonight…

As I’ve been hinting at for a while, there was going to be a shift coming soon from the 10 man rotation to a 9 man rotation. The question was just: who will be the odd man out? Well, that guy ended up being Victor Oladipo, which honestly isn’t too much of a surprise with his play as of late. The other role players are just too important within their role in comparison to the wide ranging outcomes that can come from Oladipo’s minutes. It’s just one game, but still something. The other part of this is that the Heat actually did go 10, but that’s because there was a short leash for a certain rotation guy. Omer Yurtseven checked in and picked up 2 quick fouls. A little bit after, the Grizzlies run double drag with Yurtseven in that drop, and the ball-handler somehow gets behind him for the lay-in. Spo was furious on the court, and ended up going to Haywood Highsmith shortly after. Those defensive limitations are a real thing…

#4: It’s always been about the shooting.

With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, Kevin Love knocks down his third triple of the night to extend the Heat’s three point shooting to 48% on the night. Well let’s be honest, this is new. It’s usually me talking about the Heat generating decent looks but shooting around 20% from deep. I wouldn’t say the looks were *that* much different from previous nights in this one, but it was pretty obvious that the ball movement was much more improved. Not to blame Oladipo by any means, but I do think the ball sticks way too much with him in that second unit. Lowry did a good job of forcing swing passes, and Martin just doesn’t stop moving ever. The Heat’s three point shooting surged early last season and collapsed in the playoffs. The overly positive takeaway could be they’re peaking at the right time this year instead.

#5: Wait, not a clutch game?

Watching the Heat lead by 20 for a long period of time in the second half might be more of a new look than the rise in three-point shooting, Somehow even when they would lead, that score would evaporate rather quickly. Well, that’s the result of a team that looks anything north of serviceable offensively. Usually when these games continue to be “in the mud,” that just equals close game down the stretch. Why do clutch games continue to make appearances? It honestly may be as simple as poor offensive play and defensive overcompensating. Aside from the shooting, also credit to the Heat’s main three guys for coming to play. Butler was dominant, Adebayo was active, Herro was efficient. This is the time to keep putting these wins together.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Jazz

The Miami Heat clearly needed this one…

Another clutch game down the stretch ends in a big Tyler Herro three with a minute to go.

Some takeaways…

#1: What’s been needed from Gabe Vincent the most showcased early on…

When it comes to early positives, Gabe Vincent came out played well early on. Why was that? Well that was the game-plan considering the Jazz were planting Lauri Markkanen on Vincent one-on-one. He clearly wasn’t afraid to attack that right out the gates, leading into 3 early triples off spot-up movement jumpers. But that isn’t even what’s been needed most from him. I’m going to talk about the defensive issues next, but he was everywhere defensively in that opening stint from an individual perspective, which is what we were used to last year. Point of attack hound who obtained a certain level of screen navigation that this team truly needed. We’ve seen less consistency with that this season it feels, which is why quick flashes showcase the real need from him heading down the stretch of the season.

#2: Heat defensive slippage coming from two Jazz areas in first half…

It feels like it’s the same thing every night when I illustrate the early first half defense for the Heat. Positional slippage is the main surprise for me, since it’s obvious the isolation defense won’t be superior when eyeing down this roster. But what has continually kept this Heat defense intact over recent seasons is the strong rotations, wise close-outs, and on-a-string type defense. Right now, that’s not the case, as this Heat team has been the 23rd best defense in first quarters post All Star break. To take it a step forward, the opposing formula this time around was even more odd, as two players combined for 41 points: Lauri Markkanen and Simone Fontecchio. The common thread still comes back to a drop-off in their specialty: Markkanen off secondary attacks and Fontecchio off spot-up movement threes. Two elements that reflect team defense and positional stuff. A weird, weird trend.

#3: The current rotation at (almost) full health.

Just to note what things looked like for the Heat roster wise, the one thing I was curious about was the rotation tonight. Erik Spoelstra said pregame that Gabe Vincent would continue to get the start, as he wants to ramp up the minutes for Kyle Lowry slowly, but the question became: Do they go 10? Will somebody be cut from the 9 man rotation? Duncan Robinson or Haywood Highsmith (who are the 11th and 12th looking in)? Well, the answer was that the Heat went 10. An early entrance for Omer Yurtseven, followed by Max Strus. Caleb Martin, Kyle Lowry, and Victor Oladipo came soon after, as we saw a very short stint of an all bench lineup. Way to take the non-Butler and Bam minutes up a notch (lol). For full-on rhythm purposes from both a coaching and player perspective, I’m not the biggest fan of 10, especially when depth hasn’t been your friend. My thing to watch is that if they inevitably bump down to 9, what group of guys does that consist of?

#4: Some Bam Adebayo slippage?

The hot topic over the recent stretch has been the back seat Bam Adebayo has taken along the way for Miami’s struggles. We keep saying Jimmy Butler is looking around an empty room at the moment, but Bam Adebayo was this group’s high level playing incredible basketball for the first 2 and a half quarters of the season. But lately, the effectiveness and comfort doesn’t seem to be there. The usual dotted line/ free throw line jumpers aren’t on high volume, as more stuff has included entry passes baseline and things going toward the rim. Why is that? Well that could have something to do with the spacing purposes in the new lineup with Kevin Love, as Caleb Martin used to be the baseline roamer and rim diver in those lineups. But it’s not about fit, he’s just flat at the moment. The defense hasn’t been as full force in your face either, which is the real element that makes you look twice. Late in the third they got him going on the break a bit in transition for easy ones into an eventual offensive board and put-back to finish the quarter, which is necessary when he’s pressing in the half-court. They need the pre All Star break Bam Adebayo again. Badly.

#5: Another late-game walk-through…

Around 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter of another close game to nobody’s surprise, the Heat were getting a decent stretch from Victor Oladipo. This came just after a couple of relief threes from Kyle Lowry that was much needed, but Oladipo hit a big spot-up three himself. Shortly after he caught his man sleeping and floated baseline off a cut for an easy lay-up. For this offense to flow correctly, that movement from him is needed immensely. Fast forward to 4 minutes to go, Jimmy Butler has a miscommunication with Bam Adebayo on a cut for a turnover, Jazz go in other direction for a lob to Walker Kessler. Jazz go up 2, Heat call timeout. What else would the play-call be? A Jimmy Butler triple on the left wing. A little over a minute to go, Talen Horton Tucker hits a tough turnaround to go up 1. The next possession, Tyler Herro does Tyler Herro things with a step back 3 to take the lead by 2. Gabe Vincent draws an offensive foul on the other end after review, but Heat come up short with a Herro tie up. Heat force a miss on other end, as Bam comes down with the rebound to ice the game with free throws.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cavs

Well, this wasn’t pretty.

There were ups, and even more downs.

But some big shots from Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things led the way.

Some takeaways…

#1: Donovan Mitchell hot first half, eyeing the defensive plan…

Donovan Mitchell had a hot opening half on Friday night scoring a very efficient 25 points, along with 6 threes. In comparison to a game ago where the Cavaliers had Darius Garland, you would think the Heat would be able to focus more on the on-ball magic of Mitchell, right? Well nasty crossover after step back three gave a very different impression. The early problems weren’t that they weren’t focused on Mitchell, it was that they were *too* focused on him. By that I mean, they were getting lost off-ball time and time again, leaving them behind in rotations and giving Cleveland open slots to operate. From there, that’s when Mitchell got busy on his step back threes against single coverage. Felt like more blitzing and shading was necessary than he was being given, but this is the exact reason I’ve harped on leaning defense in this rotation by now.

#2: The turnover problems continue…and that’s a *big* problem.

There hasn’t been an extremely heavy diet of wins this season for the Heat, but do you know the common thread between most of them? The turnover battle. Before I get into the main slice of this from the game tonight, the Heat’s defense was elite for the sole reason of pressuring and forcing turnovers. More possessions, more fast-break opportunities, more of a chance to win with this uneven half-court offense. Now to the specifics of this game, they weren’t putting themselves in a position to win that battle with the amount of careless ones they were giving up. Part of this is the two primary offensive hubs aren’t guard creators, so the creation to your trigger is not a pass first guard. (I know what you’re thinking: that’s ideally Kyle Lowry) But it’s pretty simple that this Heat team isn’t good enough for Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo specifically to be that high volume in turnovers, just as the usage rises.

#3: My take on what’s needed from Bam Adebayo in a certain unit.

So the Heat changed things up a bit with the rotations recently, as Butler anchors the second unit late into the first quarter, while Adebayo and Herro exit early to re-enter with some of the role guys to begin the second quarter. But the usage of Bam in that lineup has stuck out to me heavily. They use him as a roller even more than usual, part of the Herro or Oladipo pick and roll sets, which ties back to the turnover conversation. Bam should not be a primary roller here. He needs to be a primary option off the attack on the ball. Cross screen into mid-post insertion. Pin-down into a curl at free throw line. The stuff that puts him in creation mode, instead of the reactionary base to the guards. This is something everybody wants to see in general, but it’s needed even more when Butler isn’t out there as well.

#4: Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things.

When it comes down to unwatchable stretches, this third quarter tonight was definitely up there. Heat came out and score a quick 10 points and seem to be rolling, yet things plummeted shortly after. Not able to get a stop on one end, with just an insanely bad offensive process on the other end, feeling like a full on grind every single time. With that said, late in the third, Jimmy Butler began resorting to a bit of a jumper display. He was hitting them, but that pretty much sums up the process of the offense. Even aside from the jumpers, he was the entire key to every Heat offensive run that was made in this game. Why is that? Well as I harp on repeatedly, his mid to low post touches are the savior to the Heat’s offense. He was getting whatever, whenever he wanted in this game, but the rough stretches for this team were just…rough.

#5: The fourth quarter…

Adebayo drives, kicks, and Herro finds just enough space to get off a leaning triple in the corner. 1 point game. Heat force a miss, Herro gets it into transition, pull-up three to take a 2 point lead. That was a stretch early in the fourth that shifted some energy back on Miami’s side. Heat force a turnover on an inbounds around the halfway mark of the fourth, leading to a Strus pass to Bam for the dunk. 3 point game. Butler began getting into some of that downhill juice shortly after. A tough lay-in into a bump and float jumper off glass into a strong drive down an open lane for the dunk. Heat up 7 now with Butler entering that mode. Some back and forth ensued with some triples falling in the Cavs favor, putting this game back at a 3 point lead for Miami. Another late shot clock jumper by Tyler Herro put Miami up 5, on an extremely tough step back. Mitchell responds again with a floater. A Mobley lob under a minute to go puts things at a 1 point game. 20 seconds left, Strus screens as Butler ends around, leading into yet another pull-up jumper. 3 point game again. Mitchell ends up getting fouled at the rim with 10 seconds left, putting Miami in a position I feel like I’ve seen them in 100 times this year. Martin knocked down 2 free throws, and Miami escaped with a win.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Cavs

Starting another two-game home set, the Heat faced the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

They fell late after making a decent push, but let’s get right into the takeaways…

#1: Against the best paint protection team in the league, the Heat find success in the interior.

Matching up with the best defense in basketball, it should also be mentioned that this team formulated their scheme from the Milwaukee Bucks. Protect the paint, play with length, and force the opposing team into mid-range shots. So what did the Heat do in the opening quarter? Went right at their bigs in the paint. The Heat had 12 made field goals in the first quarter, and 9 of those came in the paint. They were also shooting 75% from the field in that range. Credit to Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler who were converting down there often, but it was also intentional schematically. The Heat drew up 2 early sets to get Love into some high-low actions for a lay-in. Miami usually counters this style with a ton of threes, but with their current roster state, they clearly can’t be relying on that element.

#2: Bam Adebayo in foul trouble means…literal trouble.

To start this game out, Bam Adebayo was guarding Donovan Mitchell on the far sideline who was tight roping it already. Adebayo gave a slight hand-check, leading into a very quick foul, and a pretty pour decision in the bigger picture. Shortly after, Adebayo picked up his second foul, which put Miami in a very awkward position when it comes to the troublesome no-Butler/Bam minutes. The Heat have been trying to get Adebayo back in to begin the second and altering those two guys’ time, yet they couldn’t do that with his two fouls. Instead the Cavs made a run in a long 3 minutes, before he came back in at the 10 minute mark. And there landed another quick foul, putting him at 3. He didn’t play the rest of the quarter, but it just displays the value of Bam, and the need to be smart with his hands.

#3: Jimmy Butler has been thrown his fair share of basketball related allegations, but I’d like to cross one off the list.

We had the “Jimmy Butler being doubled” conversation in the past. We’ve had the “Jimmy Butler against length” conversation even more often, since there have been a few nights where teams schematically place their bigger versatile defender on him to bother. But if I can confidently cross anything off the list, it would be facing length No question he wants smaller match-ups, it’s quite literally what he’s searching for all game, which was actually Max Strus screens to get Darius Garland in the action who kept hedging and recovering. But even with that, he was seeing a whole lot of both Mobley and Allen early on, yet still find ways to get them in the air and get to the line. Plus he had some buckets in the paint off secondary attacks. The point is that this shouldn’t be a benchmark of concern.

#4: The X’s and O’s action of the night…

When it comes to my schematic takeaway of the night, the Heat were getting to a pretty different three-man action in the half-court than we are accustomed to: Gabe Vincent, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love. Early in the game they used Love as the perimeter passing hub, as Vincent positioned himself for the back-screen for Butler. Butler dove, and so did 2 Cavalier defenders. Love swung to Vincent, who drove and dumped it off to Bam for the dunk. We saw this many times throughout the game, flashing once in the third quarter with the exact set-up. Except this time they weren’t prepared to double Butler on the roll, as Love lobbed it to him for the easy conversion. They’re going to need more from Vincent and Love as scoring threats to really make this hub a true success.

#5: The fourth quarter…

As the clock hit the 6 and a half minute mark, a timeout was called, as Heat fans hoped this was finally the stoppage to get their best player Jimmy Butler back into the game. Luckily they kept the deficit at only 7 in that span, since it’s just simply a risky game to play with them losing so many games in that 2 to 3 minutes this season. The offensive spacing was not looking too great for the first few minutes, as the Cavs were basically daring Oladipo to make plays off the catch. Around the 4 minute mark, a Bam elbow touch turned into a contact drive for the and-1. 5 point game. Heat had a good look off a turnover right after, but Herro came up just short on the three. After a timeout, the Heat drew up another elbow touch for Bam, as Butler got fouled off-ball and went to the free throw line. Heat force turnover on other end and run the break for a big time Martin dunk. Garland responds with a bucket and a 3 point lead, as a very odd possession ends in full Oladipo dribbling and a 3 point chuck. Cavs score on other side, and they’re up 5 again. After some trouble inbound in what felt like a game that was over, Heat force a 5 second violation. Miami draws up a nice set to hit Herro cross court, who rises up with full contest. Back at 2 point game. A potential Bam steal on the following inbound was collapsed upon when the ref called a foul, as Jarrett Allen went 1 for 2. Down 3, a pindown for Strus is the set and it’s off the rim. It felt like Herro should’ve been the call, but they got a decent look. Heat lose…

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

Heat beat the Hawks the second time in 3 days after a very strong showing from their bench.

Oladipo, Martin, Robinson come up big.

Some takeaways…

#1: Another horrendous defensive start for the Heat…

The Hawks were 2 points shy of handing the Heat their 3rd 70 point first half in the last 4 games. When it comes to expectations, did we think the early lineups they’ve been leaning into were going to be elite defensive units? I know I haven’t. But the issues have felt so simple when it comes to the schematics. The game-plan has been generally fine, yet the lack of resistance to stop the ball is the start of all their problems. This Hawks team wasn’t just killing them from deep, since they only collected 5 triples through the first 24 minutes. They were bursting by the point of attack with ease and making plays in the lane. 38 points in the paint in that first half, going 19 of 24 from the field in that range. Yeah, the shot profile was rather simple.

#2: In the meantime, Heat offense actually somewhat humming? But one constant downfall…

While the Heat were putting together an embarrassing defensive half, the Heat were quietly stringing together some of their best offense in some time. 7 of 12 from three and 54% shooting overall. A main key to that was the bench unit didn’t fully fall off a cliff, giving credit to Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin, who I will get into more extensively next. Like it usually is, all of their scores were heavy half court grinds and sets, but there is one downfall that keeps popping up: turnovers. If the Heat could find a way to wind that down a bit, the offense would be in such a better spot. Usually the second unit gets careless with Victor Oladipo leading the offense into some giveaways, but it’s the guard room in general. That screams discomfort. But either way, they were battling through that for positive scoring surprisingly.

#3: Caleb Martin finally thriving in his role.

Now when it comes to full on positives, Caleb Martin has been a major one over the last few games. As we’ve addressed all year, Martin needs to be in a role off the bench that fits him, as Bam described as “free,” while also pointing out the obvious of not having to play at the four. As for tonight, he saved the Heat’s offense. Not just because he had 16 points in that span, but the way he was getting it. Back-door cut, off-ball movement, simple slip. The consensus there, he was the only player for Miami that was moving in a way to support the hubs in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He’s also athletic and skilled enough to make plays at the rim following the dime, leading to some early trips to the line. It’s pretty clear he looks extremely more comfortable at the moment.

#4: The two sides of Victor Oladipo on a night to night, play by play basis.

It’s been evident for a while when watching Victor Oladipo that it’s essentially a seesaw effect. There are the moments where he’s hitting shots, putting pressure on the rim, and forcing turnovers to get on the break. Yet there are other times where the turnovers are just way too much for the Heat to overcome. We saw both of these things tonight. In that first half, he was definitely loose with the ball much like the entire Heat roster, but he’s basically the man in control with that unit. Fast forward to the third, he really changed the outlook for them, beginning with a tough crossover and step back triple in the corner. He followed that up by just literally shifting the pace. Every rebound, every shot, while being on the ball or off, he was sprinting down the floor with clear momentum. It gave them a jolt, and that added pace is needed for this team, especially in that unit. Later to begin the fourth, a Duncan Robinson lob to Oladipo cemented that.

#5: Late-game finish…

Heat trailed by 1 with under seven minutes to go, and they were still searching for Duncan Robinson. Hand-off, denial, re-hand-off, three pointer. Trae Young responds with a three of his own, before Herro gets comfortable on a right wing three to put it back even at a tie game. 113-113. Out of the timeout, Heat get some offensive boards into an eventual kick-out to Caleb Martin for three, flowing back into a Jimmy Butler pick and roll who finds Herro in the same corner. That put Miami at 16 of 28 from three on the night. Hawks responded back to cut it to 3, before Butler hit a fading short jumper to put it back at 5. Heat muck up the play defensively, force a turnover, and Bam throws it down the floor to Herro. Up 7. Trae Young gets a floater to go, so Miami needs a bucket here. Heat keep going to the Butler-Herro PnR with Herro screening to get Young in the action: Butler floater. Another Young floater to counter, right before Herro turns it over on a blitz for a Murray lay-in. Heat up 125-122. Miami runs a Bam-Butler inverted PnR with 40 seconds left, and he hits the jumper. One problem: it was called a travel. Luckily Heat force a turnover on other end, and Butler gets fouled to ice it at the line.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

After some real crushing losses in this building for the Heat this week, they finally had a breakthrough against the Hawks.

Smooth offense, Bam Adebayo’s best game since the All Star break, and simply a needed win.

Some takeaways…

#1: The Heat changing up their offensive actions a bit, starting off with an uncommon two-man action.

When it comes to the Heat scoring 66 points in the first half, it’s obvious we don’t see that often. But we also saw something within their process that we don’t see often, and that began right out the gates when Miami noticed an interesting match-up. With Trae Young on Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler was searching for Tyler. They were running a heavy diet of two-man game, which usually ended in an easy pocket pass to Butler on the short roll, as he can search for the best option back-side within that 4-on-3. That was part of the reason Butler ended up with 5 assists at half, since they were over-committing when he got 2 feet in the lane. The other main adjustment surrounded the focus of Bam Adebayo, which I will get to later…

#2: There’s been a call for a shift in the substitution pattern, and the Heat seemed to have answered.

No Jimmy Butler, no Bam Adebayo. That’s been a lineup pattern that I’ve been tracking very closely over the last week, since it’s been so problematic night in and night out. The Heat changed things right off the bat, as Bam Adebayo got an early exit with Tyler Herro coming right behind him. There was about a 2 minute span to finish the first where neither were on the floor, but you can live with two. Just as the second quarter started up, Bam Adebayo was back out there. The entire goal is to give Butler the job with the second unit instead of Herro, since it can stabilize offense and control the turnover problems they’ve had in those units. It was clear the adjustment was coming, but good that the Heat didn’t wait on it.

#3: Bam Adebayo finding his flow, but it was intentional from Miami schematically.

As I said earlier in this piece, the Heat’s actions felt different in this game. The Butler-Herro combo was match-up based, but the Bam Adebayo sets were team/Bam based. Inverted PnR’s with Herro and Butler screening to get him downhill is always something that’s called for, and we saw that a good bit early. I’ve also been a big fan of running curls for him to operate off, since it’s essentially a living mismatch. Strus down-screened for him in the second quarter, he received it inside the elbow, jabbed, and flowed into a smooth jumper in his spot. A little bit later as Gabe Vincent walked the ball down the floor, Spo was punching his fist into an open hand, calling for a split action repeatedly. They got it to Bam, he waves Herro to fly off the screen, but it’s all a ploy to get Bam in space. Ends in a push shot for an and-1. My takeaway is as simple as this: run. actions. for. Bam. Adebayo.

#4: Cody Zeller time?

Only two players were in double figures as the game went into the half. Bam Adebayo and Cody Zeller. Yeah, that’s a new look for this Heat team. When it comes to his play, I keep coming back to one single word that stands out: activity. Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo are running in transition? Cody Zeller is sprinting a 40 yard dash into the play as a trailer. A shot goes up? Zeller is finding a body to potentially draw a foul or get his hand on the ball off a board. Heat searching for a decent look? Zeller is either screening in the action or off the ball. He is just in every play it feels, which brings me to that word activity. He looks fresh and he has played well.

#5: A needed win…

Aside from all of the schematic X’s and O’s stuff, the reality was a loss to this team would officially flush this season down the drain. I know you’re thinking: well, that’s been proclaimed multiple times already this season. But after those last two performances, they were in true total melt down territory. Also other than the morale side of things, this team specifically needed this against this Hawks team who are closely trailing them. A pair of wins in this set put you in a decent spot in that race within the standings. As I’ve been saying, the Heat’s new goal is the 6 seed. Avoid the play-in, avoid Milwaukee or Boston in the first round, and avoid total embarrassment to be brutally honest. Now you have to sweep this set on Monday.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Knicks

Talk about a tale of two halves. From pure disappointment in the first half to an energized group that actually looked like a basketball team in the second half.

Some takeaways…

#1: The defensive leakage continues in both half-court, and more importantly, transition…

Oh look at that, another 70+ point quarter for the opposing team in the Heat’s own building. As I’ve been noting, the Heat’s shooting is a major problem, but they were at least able to somewhat counter it early in the year by getting games in the mud on the defensive end. Well, that has fallen off completely over the last few weeks. A 20 point opening quarter for Julius Randle set the stage, mostly showcasing that they would find the open slots of Miami’s defense in the half-court following the heavy diet of showing and recovering to eliminate the simple switch. But the bigger issue is that the half-court defense doesn’t even feel like the main issue. Every grinded out Heat offensive possession ends in an extremely speedy Knicks team racing down the floor for layup after layup. No restriction for the Heat in that space whatsoever. The defense has been a problem.

#2: The Butler lineups vs the non-Butler lineups with a clear distinction.

The patterns for this Heat team have been odd as of late. Leaning into an early 5 minute stretch with no Butler or Bam is quite the choice, but Butler was also on pace to play a total of 28 minutes when we hit halftime. That’s an issue in itself, but the reason it’s a bigger problem is due to the fact this team has an insane shift when he’s on and off the floor. It’s one things to look at the lopsided numbers, but the eye test surpasses those stats even further. The Heat don’t have a base without Butler on the floor. They rely on a ton of guard play and pick and rolls, and that is getting them absolutely nowhere. Butler checks in with 6 minutes left in the second quarter, and there’s an immediate change on his way to 19 first half points. We’ve been saying he needs help, but this is looking worse by the day with him on a deserted island.

#3: Oh, is that what a bench looks like?

We can play the blame game on Tyler Herro or Kyle Lowry or Max Strus or Gabe Vincent on a night to night basis surrounding Butler, but let’s take a moment to zoom out for some perspective on a specific unit: the bench unit. Miami’s bench has been non-existent while the Knicks are possibly the most talented bunch in the league. Quickness and scoring from Quickley, solid 2-way play from Josh Hart, energy from Obi Toppin, and a perfect role big in Isaiah Hartenstein. Compared to the Heat’s second unit, they looked like a superteam, as Heat fans count down the seconds until Erik Spoelstra looks down his bench to rotate the core guys back in. This is nothing new since it’s an obvious statement, but seeing this measuring stick up close is definitely eye opening.

#4: A third quarter pick-up: Adebayo, Herro, Butler leading.

Now after all of the negative that I discussed, the Heat made a run of their own to open up the second half, playing with a lot more energy and flow on the offensive end. It began with playing through Bam Adebayo on the break, as he got some easy ones in transition as he started to play much more freely. Some of those short jumpers began to fall as well, getting him and the Heat offense in a flow. Tyler Herro played off of that with some tough pull-ups and movement threes to really spark Miami’s scoring punch. Through all of this, Jimmy Butler was the one creating much of the offense following the over-helping. Playing through their main guys is needed, and the Butler-Herro-Bam grouping showed up in the third.

#5: The fourth quarter…

Jimmy Butler checks in with under 8 minutes to go, Heat down 8. He immediately gets a low block and-1 to cut the deficit back to 5. Shortly after, Victor Oladipo hits his second big shot of the fourth quarter with Butler kicking it out for a top of the key triple. 6 minutes left, 2 point game. A big time Caleb Martin leaning three on the left wing officially put Miami up 1, right before the Heat and Knicks threw some counter punches back and forth. Under 3 minutes to go, a tough Randle fadeaway put the Knicks up 2, followed by a Brunson floater to put at a 4 point game with two minutes to go. Heat respond with a lob to Bam for the dunk, back at a 2 point game. With the crowd getting louder, Bam comes up short on a jumper, rebounded by Butler, and put back in. Simply out working them. Tie game. Another turnaround from Randle is the response, this time being an and-1. Fast forward to a Herro steal and incredible lay-in to put the Heat up 1, followed by a game winning Randle fading three. Tough way to finish that.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Philly

After taking care of business against the 76ers in Philly, the script flipped back home in Miami even with no Joel Embiid.

Shooting, awful. Defense, possibly worse. Just a clear lack of consistency in all areas.

Some takeaways…

#1: Different defensive look from what we saw in Philly.

71 points, 11 threes. Those were the first half numbers for the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half, on a night that they were without Joel Embiid. I’m going to discuss minute distribution next, but the Butler and Bam-less minutes play into this heavily. This team falls apart on both ends in those stretches. But in terms of the defense, they were obviously forced into a different style without Embiid, but the pure will and grit shouldn’t go anywhere. Yet it did. They lacked physicality and were just non-existent with on-ball annoyance. They were switching a good bit when they weren’t in zone, which felt odd considering drop would force the looks you want from them: mid-range pull-ups. We can talk shooting all day, but the defense being inconsistent takes the cake for importance.

#2: If it wasn’t clear before, the Heat need one of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the floor to be successful.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo logging right around 16 first half minutes, they were on pace to play slightly north of 30 total minutes. Aside from that being an issue, they were almost mirroring minutes in that first half in a way we haven’t seen in some time. That forced the Heat into a 2-3 zone for a long period with Oladipo and Martin headlining, which has been successful, while the offense is heavily reliant on Herro and Dipo creation every play. Zeller-Martin-Strus are not going to create their own shot, basically forcing Miami into a very obvious offensive base for the time being. Thus forcing the loud 20-2 run from the 76ers. This team simply needs a Butler or Bam hub at all times, and they certainly will need more floor time in general considering the spot they currently sit in.

#3: Jimmy Butler vs the switches.

When it comes to a positive element of this match-up, specifically with this version of the 76ers, Jimmy Butler against the switch always feels to be their best offensive bet. He was searching for the Maxey or Melton switch what felt like the entire first quarter, and it was food each and every time. A couple of and-1’s later, it leads to much better shots across the board as they shot over extra help immediately. The only issue about them sending slight doubles his way? Well, the Heat shot 1 for 8 from three in the second quarter. So as they were shading extra defenders, he seemed to be making the right play time and time again, but it would result in a clank off the rim and transition play for the Sixers. Just something to keep in mind for counters in further match-ups.

#4: All eyes on guard play.

To reflect quickly on my earlier point about Butler and Bam not being on the floor, the reason it’s such a big deal is due to the fact it places a ton of weight on the shoulders of their guards. Tyler Herro didn’t have core on-ball presence as a scorer, Gabe Vincent was extremely inefficient, Victor Oladipo isn’t much of an offensive shooting threat, and Max Strus has his ups and downs. When it comes to the guards, the inconsistency is something to continue to point to. Like I said before, Butler/Bam hubs are crucial. Why is that? They get them into their best half-court actions, instead of the usual perimeter led sets. They just can’t have these nights from their entire guard room.

#5: Well if you want good news, I’ll give you the one single thing…

When it comes to the standings, the Heat currently sit in a play-in spot. But when scanning further up the standings, you would notice the Heat are only 1.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets. The only good news, like I said, is that Nets also lost tonight to the Knicks, who will be in this building in 48 hours. At this point, the goal is to simply chase the Nets to get out of play-in range. It feels odd to say on a night like this where they get washed off the floor by Philly, but one of their most favorable first round scenarios would be this exact match-up. Try and take your chances in the game-plan department against Embiid and company, instead of a play-in riot right before matching up with Giannis or Tatum. The goal is the 6 seed. I didn’t think I’d ever be saying that.