Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Pelicans

The Miami Heat were looking to bounce back from their rough performance against the Hawks on Monday, and did just that, coming out scorching from start to finish in New Orleans.

They got a little bit from everybody all the way down the nine man rotation, as Bam Adebayo led the way.

Some takeaways from this high level performance….

#1: The Heat’s opening possessions telling the whole story.

Before this game, I said the game-plan I would go with would begin and end with the Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo PnR. Against a team in drop with two drop killers, that could open up the rest of the offense. Herro got into his floater twice in the first few minutes, as Jonas Valanciunas sat right under the rim. The very next possession following that second floater, the Heat found themselves running a PnR at a different coverage. He was now defending at the level, and when they are forcing adjustments this early, that’s when they have you. Herro reads it, leads a bounce pass in the pocket to Bam who lays it in. Fast forward to the next play, Valanciunas was right back under the rim, so Herro flowed right into a mid-range pull-up that dropped. In the opening minutes, Adebayo had 8 points and Herro had 5 assists. The blueprint against teams like this as I said before the game: that Herro-Bam two-man combo.

#2: The first half: the Heat simply blazing in all areas.

Going down the checklist of things you wanted to see, the first half was marking every area for the Heat. Kyle Lowry comes out with high energy, pushing pace, and getting the team transition buckets. Check. Going back to the previous point, Adebayo and Herro doing their drop in that in-between game to really set the tone. Check. The bench scores 28 points in the first half, with everybody contributing. Check. And well, the team shot 72% on twos in the first 24 minutes, pretty much getting wherever they wanted off initial and secondary attacks. Major check. In all honesty, the easy way to describe it was ‘one of those nights’ since the team just couldn’t miss on many shots in their overall profile. But the process stood out to me. There was diversity, there were paint touches into kick-outs, and they followed the base of their half-court game. That was the more promising part.

#3: Let me take another moment for Gabe Vincent.

Gabe Vincent knocked down 3 triples in the opening quarter, yet that’s no surprise as of late since he keeps breaking his own career high every night. But when zooming in a bit more on him coming back into form following the injury stuff, the one thing he displayed in this game is the real component to keep eyeing. Spot-up shooting. He’s been on an uphill climb when it comes to that spot-up three point percentage this season, but it’s been trending up as of late. Not only is that important for that extra punch from deep, but it makes it easier on the primary on-ball threats. Capitalizing on those kicks from Herro, Butler, Oladipo drives really can convert the offense in a positive manner. The other element of this emergence is it can provide lineup versatility. They can get back to plugging him in different spots if he’s hitting like this, so it’ll be interesting to monitor.

#4: X’s and O’s time: A set that I continue to like for this Heat offense.

The Pelicans began making a bit of a push in the third quarter as the Heat were forcing certain looks that they shouldn’t have. In a period that they needed to be offensively settled, they went to old reliable within their offense. I started out this piece talking about the Herro-Bam PnR in space, yet there’s a layered shift that always seems to generate a good look. Before Herro took a dribble with Bam screening, Butler slips dunker spots to catch his defender by surprise. He receives the ball on the left block, turning into an and-1. The very next possession, they baited the Pelicans a bit more. Herro and Bam actually run this PnR as Herro gets deep into the paint, Butler flips spots late, and he hits him for the easy flip shot. It’s a very subtle thing, but that’s a lot to account for on offense with those three pressure points.

#5: A potential momentum builder?

As I’ve discussed across this entire piece, this was a hot scoring night for the Miami Heat. But this was also the first time they’ve been fully healthy, probably all season. The starting lineup back intact, as the bench four were all locked into their respective roles as well. Sliding everybody down a slot simply does wonders to many of their role players. But now it’s all about seeing if this can be another one of those momentum builders. Consistency has been the word I’ve brought up all year, both on and off the court. On the court, they need consistent themes and identities on both ends of the floor. Off the court, they need to simply string some things together over a large span. They’ve done that this week, mostly against worse talent, but now they are facing Luka Doncic and the Mavs plus Jayson Tatum and the Celtics in 2 of the next 3 games. The true challenge.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Hawks

This Heat-Hawks game felt like multiple games in one. From an early Hawks on-pour into a Heat second half run into more Atlanta tough shot making.

Some takeaways from this Heat loss on Monday afternoon…

#1: Well, the first half summary is…something.

65% from the field and 67% from three. Those were the Hawks shooting numbers after the first 24 minutes of basketball. The Heat’s zone was being picked apart into middle of the floor push shots and kick-outs for threes, but I wouldn’t say this was by any means a schematic lapse. The switching was being countered as well, simply based off tough shot making in isolation. Those numbers aren’t just mirrored by a rough defensive night, that’s just offensive insanity to be quite honest. Now as for the Heat’s offense, they actually went through a 5 minute stretch in the first quarter where they didn’t miss a single shot. 9 of 9 from the field. How did they not make up any ground? Well, they turned the ball over about 6 times in that span, just demolishing their offensive flow. Shot making and turnovers: pretty much the summary of this one early.

#2: Herro, Martin back. But rust making an appearance as well.

The Heat were rounding back into form a bit on the injury report, as Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin were inserted back into the starting lineup this afternoon. Martin’s four first half minutes told the story for him, since he had 3 fouls in that span. He was looking a bit rusty as you would expect, which leads us into the Herro conversation. He starts the game 0 for 5 from three, but my biggest issue wasn’t really the zero. He seemed to be forcing that three ball on a night you would expect rust. Getting off that three point line into that floater was clearly his blueprint, which he flowed into slightly late in the second quarter. Not based off missing time, but Bam Adebayo looked rusty too in that first half with that 2 of 8 stat-line. Yet he was able to turn it around shortly after.

#3: Jimmy Butler generating points to start into an interior jam into an eventual flow.

While I discuss the many issues to begin this game, Jimmy Butler had an early 12 point to give Miami’s offense a tiny jolt. Mostly off fast-break buckets, but he was finding his lane a bit. As we saw a shift into the half-court, the Hawks were overly collapsing on his rim attempts. Atlanta had 3 blocks in the first half, and I’m sure all were on tough Butler drives. He wasn’t getting the calls to get to the line, so he began trying to play through it. There isn’t much to overly analyze when it comes to Jimmy Butler’s offensive game, but one thing that stands out on a night like this is the choice of attempts at the rim. There will be moments of that extra pass to Robinson under the rim that kills a possession, just needing to go up immediately. Then a tough force on multiple defenders the following play. Fast forward to the third quarter, his shot selection opened up, mostly off his defensive uptick, which I’ll get into next…

#4: The third quarter run: Bam Adebayo led offense, Heat locked in defensively.

While I’ve diagrammed the entire first half struggles for the Heat, the third quarter was just the opposite. Jimmy Butler set a tone defensively to begin the half, as the Heat closely followed. They began hitting passing lanes, doubling and recovering, and getting out into transition. A Heat style. As for the offensive flow to make this a game after trailing by a ton, it was all Bam Adebayo. After a rough start, he began finding his rhythm on his usual mid-range face-up game. Turnaround jumpers, play-making over the top, and crashing the boards for put-backs. He is the engine to what this team can do on both ends. These type of runs always begin with him setting the tone as an offensive base, since once a defense begins to pinch, the Heat’s offense can flow from there.

#5: Let’s talk about a certain 4th quarter substitution pattern…

As I just described the Heat’s gritty run, they rolled into the fourth quarter only down 11. With the momentum shift, that lead seemed very gettable. Yet one thing was clear as Butler went to the bench to finish the third: they will need him back soon to steal this game away. Dejounte Murray kept hitting tough shots to keep the lead, as Butler stayed on the bench through every minute bench mark. 10 minutes to go, 9 minutes to go, 8 minutes to go: it drew a very viable question to ask why is Butler not in the game yet.  He finally entered after a timeout with 7 minutes to go, as Bam went to the bench as he had been on the floor the whole half essentially. But by that point, in my personal opinion, it felt as if their window had closed. They had a pocket of time to attack on the fall-off from Atlanta, but the survival mode of the non-Butler minutes into another survival mode stretch of the non-Bam minutes didn’t help their case. Miami still made a late push anyway, but this pattern felt like it made things so much harder for this Heat team following the run.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Bucks

The Miami Heat faced the Bucks yet again, with similar rosters on both sides as Tyler Herro and Giannis Antetokounmpo each missed another game.

It was the Gabe Vincent show yet again, as Victor Oladipo heated up late.

Some takeaways from this win…

#1: Gabe Vincent picks right back up where he left off.

After Gabe Vincent put up a career high 28 points against the Bucks on Thursday, he followed that up with a 21 point first half on Saturday afternoon. For starters, the way he was doing it was impressive within the PnR. Manipulating the point of attack defense around screens before keeping his defender on his back into a tough leaner or step back. But most of all, we saw his shooting from deep really return with 5 threes in the first 24 minutes of play. He’s obviously extremely confident in his pull-up, but the spot-up three returning is massively important. That number has been rough so far this season, and with all of the ball handlers on the roster, that making a return can shift the offensive structure. His play can be characterized as hot shooting nights, but it’s simply the growth of his offensive game.

#2: Looking a bit deeper into the Victor Oladipo usage.

I’ve been talking a lot about the Victor Oladipo minutes as of late, mostly since he’s been great on both sides of the floor. Yet if we were to point out one single downfall, it would definitely be his overall handle and being loose with the basketball at times. Some early turnovers made an appearance in this game, and it flowed into a consistent takeaway of mine. The extra ball-handler in the back-court with him feels like the most necessary adjustment to his minutes. When he’s forced to be the sole handler, that’s when the mistakes roll in. Yet next to somebody like Vincent or Tyler Herro, he can shift right back into his usual role and excel on the offensive end off secondary attacks. Fast forward to the second half, he takes off again after rough starts. While I can depict the minor stuff in his game, his energy and current level of play is hitting real highs at the moment. Bypassing the early uneven play into a 20 point night.

#3: Orlando Robinson doing the right things.

When watching this game tonight, there was a play where Spo was yelling at Haywood Highsmith on the weak-side defensively to fully help off the corner for the right slot drive. He second guessed, and a lay-in was the result. Spo called timeout to get in his ear a bit. Last game, Jamal Cain was pinching to hard at the top of the 2-3 zone, giving the Bucks an open three. Spo got in his ear at the next stoppage. We just haven’t seen many of those moments with Orlando Robinson. He’s played his role pretty well and simplified it. Fights on the offensive boards, and always seems to kick it back out to work on a short clock. He had zero points at half, but I saw more promising things than not.

#4: A statistical shift: assisted field goals down.

At the end of the third quarter, the Heat had 32 made field goals. Only 13 of those were assisted. That’s not really a Heat trend as of late, but that can be pointed toward a couple of things. Vincent’s hot shooting stretch pretty much led to a good amount of isolation cooking on pull-ups and floaters for a good portion of that first half. Jimmy Butler’s offense was also slow-paced post work on Jrue Holiday types, taking away the over-passing elements to generate a ton of assists. Also, Bam only having three made field goals at that point feeds that statistic, since most of his buckets are always assisted by the creators. I thought the offensive flow was good anyway, but just an interesting trend.

#5: Taking care of business.

The excitement of a Heat-Bucks prime-time match-up surrounded by the star players was pretty much eliminated from the equation, as Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out yet again. What could’ve been a game to kind of judge where the Heat are against real talent, it quickly shifted to a completely different theme: take care of business on nights like this. The Heat are in an uphill climb at the moment in the Eastern Conference standings following the early struggles, meaning they will take any break they can get. But knowing this team, games like this never feel like a break. They’re more likely to get up for an Antetokounmpo match-up than a short-handed group. But they did capitalize on this stretch with some gritty wins against the Thunder and two against this Bucks group. Now they head on the road for another test.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Bucks

The Heat faced the Bucks on Thursday night before the prime-time matchup on Saturday.

On the second night of a back to back for Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo and others sat.

With trap game written all over it, the Heat came out slow. But bounced back in the second half to get the win.

Here are my takeaways….

#1: The first half bench scoring going two separate ways.

To begin this game, the Bucks bench scored an immediate 20 points behind the play of Jevon Carter. The Heat’s bench points at that same time stamp: 0. Obviously the options were pretty slim, as the Heat’s bench consisted of Oladipo, Cain, and Robinson, but the offensive process on both sides was staggeringly different. Fluid pull-ups and good threes coming from the Bucks side, as it was a grind for guys like Oladipo to get into a rhythm with the way the Bucks were defending, leading to 1 of 6 shooting for him in that first half. I can’t say I’m very surprised on the offensive side for Miami, but the way they were being shredded defensively was more shocking. The Heat’s rotation tonight had more positive defensive players than not, which is why seeing Carter get so many good looking pull-ups was a rough watch.

#2: Gabe Vincent finding some offensive rhythm.

As I just mentioned Gabe Vincent, it should be mentioned that he was the guy that originally got Miami somewhat on track offensively. He got a spot-up triple to fall off an extra swing, then followed that up with a screen refusal and left handed drive into a floater off the glass. Now that he was feeling it, he ran an isolation to his left and took a step back jumper with his feet on the three-point line: and-1. For one, it was necessary tonight with the Heat’s offense sputtering. On the other hand, it’s good to see Vincent find some type of rhythm. His shooting has pretty much been all over the place this year, and a more stable offensive option is what this team is searching for on nights like this one. His shot profile is the same, yet all he needs is the percentages to level out.

#3: Bam Adebayo trying to beat the Brook Lopez allegations.

Seeing Bam Adebayo back in the Heat lineup was a good sign considering the uncertainties with his wrist injury. Yet while the Heat offense was the definition of “in the mud,” the blueprint quickly became get the ball to Bam in the middle and let him work. He came out early with two quick pull-up mid-range jumpers against Brook Lopez in that deep drop, which is the easy counter to what we saw in the post-season in 2021. That coverage won’t give him nearly as much trouble as it used to with this new go-to jumper unlocked. I did notice some minor tweaks from Milwaukee as early as the first quarter. After those initial jumpers, Lopez began playing the pick and rolls slightly higher. Fast forward to the third quarter, Bam had a sequence where he rose up for a dunk on the roll with Lopez in the deep drop, got the rebound on the other side, then flowed into a pull-up middy over Lopez yet again. With his upgraded skill-set, deep drop no longer scares him.

#4: The recent offensive blueprint says a lot about Tyler Herro.

From a win against the Thunder to this game tonight, the offense has not been pretty for the Miami Heat. Butler free throw hunting against OKC to Vincent and Adebayo saving in this game against the Bucks. Aside from those components, one thing is clear: Tyler Herro is probably more important to this offense than we even note. We’ve obviously discussed his scoring runs and play-making improvements, but the drop-off has been clear when they’re without him. Simply, it’s just cleaner when he can get them a good looking pull-up at the elbow and force some nail help. That alone opens up the half-court in a way we haven’t seen the last few nights.

#5: What might be the most promising Victor Oladipo sign yet…

As Victor Oladipo walks onto the court to begin the fourth quarter, it was definitely not his best showing as he was 2 for 8 from the field. The shots weren’t falling, the offense was a mess, and the Bucks rim protection was pushing him away from his own offensive base. Yet in the opening possession of the quarter, they forced a turnover, Oladipo scoops it to push pace, and it results in a fancy spin and finish in transition. The following possession, Oladipo runs a high PnR with Bam against that deep drop, and steps into a pull-up triple at the top of the key. Timeout. When I mention the most promising sign, I’m talking about overcoming rough performances. Doesn’t have it going, out of rhythm. He still finds way to battle through and find his groove in a different manner. I didn’t expect this level of impact this soon this season, but I must say the comfort in his own ability is glaring on a night like this.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Thunder

The Heat walked into this game against OKC without 4 starters in Lowry, Herro, Adebayo, and Martin.

The margin for error was slim, but Jimmy Butler was willing them offensively to a reasonable point. Then closes it off with the game winning bucket.

Some takeaways…

#1: The Dewayne Dedmon situation…

I’ve sat here in many post-game pieces discussing “Dewayne Dedmon situations. But well, I’d say this one was a bit different. Let me start at the necessary point: the Heat were getting absolutely cooked in the 2-3 zone after he entered. The Thunder’s offense was as simple as sending a free-lancer baseline every play, as Dedmon and the guy on the box turned to each other in confusion. Sitting a few rows up watching, I wasn’t as confused, the problem was evident. Shortly after, Erik Spoelstra and Dedmon got into a heated discussion on the Heat bench before he stormed off toward the locker room. On his way, a flying massage gun hit the court. Dedmon punched it off the table in anger, leading to an ejection. On-court problems bleeding into…

#2: Jimmy Butler’s game-plan was evident pregame, and he executed immediately.

As I put my PrizePicks slate on Twitter before the game, there was one pick I mentioned made too much sense: Jimmy Butler’s free throws. Set at 6.5, he ended up with 14 in the first half alone. This wasn’t just a coincidence, it made too much sense heading into this setting without much of the roster. Butler was going to just attack the weak-spots of this Thunder defense, and he did that time and time again. Getting defenders up in the air and throwing himself into them at the rim. And let’s be honest, the ending to that last Heat game with the non-call made this even more likely that he would get a decently friendly whistle. He showed some early activity defensively, and got to the line a bunch: the two elements of a locked in Butler. When the threes start flying, you know it’s a laid back version. But this really kick-started the offense.

#3: Max Strus’ early rim attempts lead him right back to his game.

As we talk game-plans early in this game, Max Strus was the other guy with a clear focus tonight. Yes, he’s the shooter on this team, but the lack of creators meant he would have to shift the defense just enough to allow him decent looks. That shift came in the form of rim attempts to begin the game. Not the usual forced pick and rolls either. They were more timed pump-fakes and attacks to get into his favorite crossing scoop lay-up. Once that connected and got to the line, he was perfectly setting himself up. Now he began letting Butler and Oladipo do all the work, flooding in the catch and shoot stuff shortly after. Many players were given individual benchmarks to hit tonight, and that was Strus’.

#4: The offense wasn’t pretty.

As much as I talk about some of the Heat’s individual performances tonight, it should be noted the offensive structure wasn’t pretty. Why would it be? Missing three of your primary initiators is never a good blueprint, meaning more guys having to do more things. (Including more screening for wing players, leading to the offensive foul surge) But as for Victor Oladipo, his offensive layout almost always felt like a bail-out bucket. He came up big at times in the first half one all else failed, leading into tough buckets at all three levels. Butler having 20 free throws through 3 quarters is also a good representation of the offense not being “pretty.” As I said before, the moving screens was a momentum killer for a large stretch of that third quarter, and we saw the whistle really slip sides for giant chunks of time. After Dedmon’s ejection, Orlando Robinson was the sole big available and he was having foul trouble. Cain/Highsmith at the five, yeah, there were offensive limitations.

#5: The fourth…

Eight minutes to go, down 5, the offense is slipping, and Erik Spoelstra struts down the bench to tell Butler to walk to the scorers table to enter. Simultaneously, Oladipo throws an awful pass for a turnover, then absolutely hunts it down for the cleanest steal. Clear path foul. Two free throws and a giant and-1 triple from Gabe Vincent later, the Heat were up 1. The Heat answered shortly after with an inbound to Butler for the dunk, as the run was cemented by an Oladipo attack and kick-out to Jamal Cain in the corner for three. Heat up 4. The Thunder answered with a run of their own due to the Heat becoming stagnant offensively for a short stretch. Back at a tie game. A Shai Gilgeous Alexander step back triple put Miami right back on the ropes, as the search for offense wasn’t looking too clean. As the Heat trailed by 5, they finally got a stop with 50 seconds left, playing into the open floor. Oladipo steps comfortably into a transition triple and nails it. 2 point game. The Thunder got a quick whistle on a turnaround that Spoelstra immediately challenged, which ended up being unsuccessful. He goes 0 for 2, the ball is loose, Oladipo swipes it and goes. Butler gets it in the low post, and-1. Ball game.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Nets

The Miami Heat were in a back and forth against the Brooklyn Nets tonight.

Here are some takeaways…

#1: Let’s quickly talk match-ups…

As the Nets got set into their defensive stance following the tip-off, a bunch of things caught my eye. Ben Simmons on Bam Adebayo, Nic Claxton on Jimmy Butler, and Kevin Durant on Tyler Herro. For starters, that’s a lot of defensive length against a Heat team that is far from effective against size. Simmons on Bam just meant they could switch any pick and roll Miami ran, while Herro was going to see a lengthy defender no matter what. That forced Herro into an awkward state early since he couldn’t get to his usual spots off screens, but he found some off-ball pockets and early clock looks. He got comfortable even further early in the fourth, as his shot making found an uptick. The Heat obviously were fine on the offensive end as they were efficient and scored well, but the length match-up is still something to keep an eye on. The Victor Oladipo card makes it easier, since he’s not hugely impacted on either end.

#2: Heat’s first half wasn’t the typical: matching buckets with this Nets team is never the blueprint.

When we’ve seen two point games at half throughout the season in Heat game, it’s usually 46-44, not 66-64. The Heat’s defense will come to play in an ugly, “in the mud” match-up, but that wasn’t the case tonight. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were doing their usual isolation work that a defensive scheme can’t really counter, but very good offense would be a fine counter. The Heat were spreading the ball around well, generating paint touches, and shot 44% from three in that first half. It’s never the idea to go out and match elite shot makers that the Nets possess, but the Heat were doing it in their own right. An interesting thing to monitor. (A much more entertaining style.)

#3: Role player watch for the Heat.

When it comes to discussing Heat role players in this game, Haywood Highsmith would be a good place to start. He came out guarding Durant on the defensive end, and while Duran’t effectiveness may not reflect it, he was battling in a very good way to make it more difficult on the catch in the mid-range. He also had some bail-out buckets to begin this game with some direct drives to the rim. The bench was a huge positive as well, since they shot 8 of 11 from the field in that first half. I don’t want to include Victor Olaidpo in the “role players” section too much, but he really settled that group running the offense. Lastly, Orlando Robinson was a +14. Yes, that is new.

#4: Jimmy Butler bringing the usual fire.

As I said earlier, the ball wasn’t sticking for this Heat team tonight. The usage was being spread out pretty well, as the Heat were just taking advantages of the openings in front of them. With that said, Jimmy Butler was the one constant to the offense throughout this game. The hard drives, the activity on help defense to throw Durant and Irving off single coverage since he wasn’t the actual match-up, and continued trips to the line. He wasn’t dominating the ball in a noticeable way, but he was just keeping the energy high and reading  certain pockets of the game. In the third quarter, he stole it from Durant, dove out of bounds for the save, got up and got fouled eventually at the rim. That’s something others can feed off of.

#5: The fourth quarter run…

As the back and forth in scoring continued, the Nets hit a bit of a weird wall with Durant getting injured and going to the locker room. As he was no longer on the floor, and Ben Simmons took a breather, the Nets defensive length diminished all of a sudden. Hence, the early fourth quarter run from Herro. He kept sliding into off-ball pockets which led into some on-ball pull-ups in the mid-range. The Nets counter-punched without Durant, finding their offense behind Irving drawing doubles, and triples, then dishing to their solid role players. Bam Adebayo was not having his best night, as Robinson checked in for him with 5 minutes to go…which was interesting, until realizing the hand was bothering him. Two minutes left, Heat trailed by 3, Robinson received it in the middle of the floor, kept it high, threw a risky pass to the dunker spot for the Butler dunk. Miami gets a stop the very next play, and Oladipo bombs it to Butler who catches and finishes. Heat now up 1. Now down to 15 seconds left, Irving misses a deep shot, Nets get an offensive board for the tip-in. Nets up 1. Heat get a great look on the end with a Butler drive, but don’t get the call. Heat lose.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Suns

The Miami Heat wrapped up the 5 game road trip in Phoenix on Friday night, improving to 3-2 on the trip.

When looking at it from that perspective, that’s a good trip.

Victor Oladipo and Bam Adebayo lead the way tonight, so here are some takeaways….

#1: No Tyler Herro means an altered offensive focus for Heat.

As Tyler Herro was an active scratch with back spasms, it means you have to make a pretty decent sized adjustment to your offensive gameplan. Not only is he high usage, but he’s a primary offensive trigger. With his absence, it basically meant Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would be the only two half-court hubs for the offense. We saw them get it to Bam in those spots early, which I will discuss next, but Butler was doing the same off low post cross screens into mismatch hunting on any of the Suns smaller guards. That game-plan seems rather simple, but the bigger point that I mentioned to begin this game: this team couldn’t afford to play a second without at least one of them on the floor. Not only are they primary hubs, they’re the only hubs.

#2: Bam Adebayo making it look easy, because it’s gotten so simple.

As much as I discuss the Heat’s gameplan in the half-court to begin this game, it really wasn’t complex when it came to Bam Adebayo. He was being fed early in this game, going 6 of 9 from the field in the first half. It began at the elbow, as a set like Horns would be run, which ultimately flowed into Bam turning into face-up position before going to work. That free throw/dotted line jumper just continues to feel like money every time it leaves his hand with some rhythm. Seeing the Heat run isos for Bam consistently says a lot about where he is as a scorer. The other point to make about his early disposition aside from face-ups, included a heavy dosage of short roll stuff. It’s honestly tougher without Herro since he feeds him so often in that pocket, but he was still able to do some damage there too. It looks easy for him, but that’s because his options have been simplified.

#3: Dewayne Dedmon minutes again.

Before this game, Erik Spoelstra made some comments that seemed to hint at the team going in the Orlando Robinson direction for a stretch with Dewayne Dedmon continuing to recover, and that theory lasted a total of 42 seconds. Dedmon got the backup big spot yet again tonight, but it should also be noted that this role is as limited at it possibly can be. The Heat went to an 8 man rotation in this one, as Dedmon only played 6 minutes in the first half. Now I won’t act like those aren’t a *long* six minutes to monitor, but it just shows the heavy reliance on Bam at this stage and non-trust in those minutes. I’m still of the belief that Robinson should 100% be in that role at the moment, especially in a matchup like tonight. Not that Robinson is a reliable big man defender, but Chris Paul vs Dedmon in drop coverage can make 6 minutes feel like a basketball eternity.

#4: Hmmm, Torrey Craig is interesting…

When we often look around the league at possible 4’s to keep on the Heat’s radar, Torrey Craig is an interesting one. He played a very good game against Miami tonight, pretty much showing one of the pieces the Heat could very much utilize. To put it into even more context, we watched Haywood Highsmith tonight get the start next to Bam, and he had a bit of a rough one. Craig was extremely efficiency, hits spot-up triples, can play off the dribble at times in that in-between game, can rebound well for his size, and defends multiple positions. With the Suns already down one power forward, why would they trade another? But in terms of those packages with multiple players, Craig would be a fantastic add if they had the chance.

#5: Victor Oladipo has found his burst as of late, but is he adding in the perfect combo?

Victor Oladipo has been high usage over this road trip, but more specifically tonight due to Herro being out. His burst has been the highlight of his game over the last few weeks, since we haven’t seen this since his Indiana days. But that burst doesn’t mean much if the result isn’t equating to the moves. Yet that hasn’t been the case. His finishing has been solid, since he just loves that right slot when he gets the correct angle when that strong side help doesn’t slide down. Aside from that finishing, he got to the line a ton tonight. What’s the perfect sidekick to that revived burst? Free throw line antics. If he can find that balance of rim pressure and trips to the line, that’s all this Heat team needs if their offensive style ever gets back to that ideal state. Balancing that with some form of shooting is the goal, which they will try and fix at the deadline, I’m assuming.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Lakers

The Miami Heat played the LeBron and AD-less Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, and the Heat played like they were facing a weaker roster.

Issues can be discussed from different angles, but this game was lost at the point of attack defense plain and simple.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: The Heat’s early lack of intention on both ends.

When the Lakers injury report was submitted late Wednesday afternoon, that was probably the moment when the Heat put their guard down. As LeBron James was ruled out, that’s usually the moment when teams play down to competition, especially when looking at this Lakers roster tonight. Yet Russel Westbrook and company came out firing, as the Heat were sleep walking on both ends. No intention on the offensive end in terms of getting into actions, as well as the shooting just not clicking for Miami yet again. The Lakers flurry of role players were also bursting past the Heat’s point of attack defense consistently, and rotations just seemed to be off. Just a very underwhelming first half to this game for the Heat, on a night where they needed to just take care of business from the jump.

#2: Tyler Herro seeing a similar coverage to the Hawks series.

We often look back to the playoffs last year when discussing coverages that Tyler Herro has seen at the highest level. We usually go to that Philly series, since that’s when he saw consistent doubles and blitzes off every pick and roll, placing him out of his rhythm. But the Hawks series was a different scenario. The Hawks plan was to place Delon Wright on Herro for every second of every game, and his one job was to not leave his side. That’s what the Lakers were doing from baseline to baseline tonight, mostly with Dennis Schroder actually. I honestly believe the blitzes will be an easier coverage for him to beat at this stage. This one-on-one, annoying box and one type of vibe seems to take him out of his usual comfort spots. It’ll be interesting to monitor the counters to this matchup type.

#3: Reacting over predetermining: a Heat offensive need.

As much as I talked about the Heat’s struggles, they were only down four at halftime. Once again, that’s not something to be proud of against this roster, but it showed they had to be doing at least “one” thing right. That was specifically reacting to the Lakers defense instead of predetermining their shot profile. The example of that was a certain Heat run in the second quarter, where it started with a switch and Bam seal, leading into an entry pass and post hook. The next play, they got a switch again, this time with Thomas Bryant onto Victor Oladipo. He slowly waited, then flowed into his pull-up from that left wing over the big man. That is reacting to what a not-so-good defense is giving you, instead of pressing too much. At times the Heat seem to make things too difficult on themselves, when the easier approach is sitting right there. But either way, this takes up back to the word of the season for Miami: consistency, or lack-of for better context.

#4: Jimmy Butler finding a third quarter advantage.

To start the second half, the Heat came out with a gameplan surrounded around Jimmy Butler in the half-court. Butler was being guarded by Pat Bev, meaning he just kept getting down to that bottom box and going to work. Post spin, over the top lob, jumper over the top. If you know Butler, you know he loves nothing more than going one-on-one with a smaller defender. He started the third with 4 straight field goals. After a timeout, the Lakers threw their counter punch. They were just going to begin peeling over that second defender early. Now Butler got into his dump off bag with Bam Adebayo settling around the basket for easy push shots and dunks. The Heat finally found a base. Shortly after, the Lakers made another adjustment to stop giving Butler guard looks, throwing guys like Tuscano-Anderson at him instead. Either way, it’s clear Butler has an on/off switch he can flip whenever he chooses offensively.

#5: Breaking down Heat-Lakers clutch time…

Under five minutes to go, the Lakers were up by 2 on the Heat. The Lakers continued to put Herro in the action possession after possession, leading to more Bam attention and a bucket inside for Thomas Bryant. Bam answers on the other end with a short clock with that face up jumper, but a response kept occurring on the other end in similar fashion, as the Heat’s first line defense couldn’t contain to any degree. After the Heat fouled Schroder on a three with over two minutes to go, that felt like the final straw, but Butler answered with a right wing three to put it back at a three point game. Fast forward to a minute left, Bam got a put-back to fall putting it back at a 1 point game, but like I said, we kept seeing them answer. Schroder got an immediate paint touch and got to the line. 3 point game again. A reviewed foul call eventually put Oladipo at the line, which he went 1 for 2. The Lakers response included another Schroder burst past Caleb Martin for the lay-in. Sensing a theme? The Heat lost this game simply off point of attack defense. The Lakers offense was surging, and three point shooting wasn’t even a part of their success. They were just walking into the paint with ease all night. Down to 15 seconds left, the Heat fouled Westbrook who converted an and-1 on the inbound. Ball game? Well Strus ended up hitting a triple on the other end with four seconds left to give some form of hope. 3 seconds left, Heat inbound full court, Butler got a pretty good look that came up short. Arguably the worst loss of the season for Miami…

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Clippers

The Miami Heat had their ups and downs in LA against the Clippers, but they were able to pull it out in the end.

Another massive night for Bam Adebayo, plus major contributions from Victor Oladipo on both ends.

Here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: The Miami Heat’s first half: a preview of what could be.

Before getting into the individual performances in this game, including Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each adding 16 first half points, the Heat’s general flow looked to be at a season high. It was far from one-sided basketball. They were forcing turnovers at a high level on the defensive end, which landed at 8 in the first half, but it was clear they were just feeding off their offensive rhythm. They found a base that they stuck with, but the unselfishness and impact of role players led into a ball movement flurry. Rim pressure from Victor Oladipo, mid-range excellence from Bam Adebayo, and three point land pull-ups from Tyler Herro. That’s a hard formula to guard when they’re all clicking.

#2: Bam Adebayo: the tone setter, the rhythm finder.

Although I touched on the Heat’s early offensive success in a general sense, Bam Adebayo was the main reason for them finding that scoring success. The last time he faced the Clippers back in Miami, they just kept sending doubles at him in that mid-post, as he still glided to 31 points. The adjustment on the Clippers side was to send that double at Jimmy Butler instead. That allowed Bam to have a one-on-one matchup at the elbow every possession, just working his face-up game against Zubac. The jumper was falling, his touch around the rim was there, and well, the aggression was surging. He’s simply a hard player to stop when he enters this mode, and it just opens up the offense to new levels.

#3: Orlando Robinson finding his place.

After talking about Bam’s play, that usually is followed by a complete falloff when he heads to the bench and Dewayne Dedmon enters. The offensive flow stalls out, and the backup big man gets picked on in drop time and time again. Not tonight. One of the main keys to that strong first half was the big time Bam stretch was followed by the team winning the Orlando Robinson minutes. He was an offensive rebounding magnet, and is never afraid to rise backup for quick and easy put-backs. He’s also extremely active in the handoff and screening region, which is constant in a Heat half-court offense. When looking for true promising signs, the recent play of Robinson provides real hope that they indeed do have an option in the front-court to be an innings eater. A good one at that.

#4: Oh yeah, the third quarter trend returns in 2023.

After all I discussed about Miami finding themselves on both ends in that first half, the opposite was showcased to open up the third quarter. They all of a sudden couldn’t generate a string of stops as Paul George found his rhythm in isolation, but the offensive stuff is still the question mark. All the ball movement, creative actions, and extra flow into not being able to buy a bucket. To be honest, I’d have to rewatch many of these possessions to give my full outlook, but on first hand this season, “settling” always seems to be my first description in these instances. Once the Heat see a bunch of shots fall, it always feels like they don’t work as hard to get easier looks. There’s just a level of belief that the same tough shots will continue to fall. Consistency is the primary theme in terms of issues, but the settling on the offensive end is a close second.

#5: Another late-game walkthrough…

After the Heat led by 20 early in this game, they only led 96-95 halfway through the fourth quarter. As the Heat called timeout, I immediately said on Twitter the only way to pull away would be to get Jimmy Butler to create for himself consistently down the stretch, after he had a quiet game. Right out of that timeout, they ran an action for him to catch and attack, getting him to the free throw line. After a few defensive possessions of forcing some turnovers, Herro came to the rescue with a leaning right wing triple late in the shot clock to put them up 6. Then the next possession, a Butler miss led to a big time put-back slam from Adebayo to really give Miami some late energy. After some more back and forth, Oladipo misses a three, the Clippers push, and he finds a way to get in position to draw the charge. Herro feeds off that with a mid-range pull-up out of the high PnR. To really capitalize on the next offensive possession, Herro draws two at the top of the play, zips it to Bam in the middle of the floor, who rises up for the easy dunk. Adebayo just kept coming up big, no matter the circumstance or action ran.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Jazz

The Miami Heat played on the second night of a back to back in Utah on New Years Eve, and pulled away with a win.

Victor Oladipo showcased elite two-way skills, Bam Adebayo scores 32 points, oh and Tyler Herro’s game winner.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: Victor Oladipo’s early punch on both ends.

As the first quarter comes to a close, the Heat lacked energy. Lacked an identity. Victor Oladipo entered the game, and he provided just that. Heat ran an action that many fans are familiar with, Duncan Robinson slipping a screen initially to create space for the PnR between the ball handler and the big man. That ball-handler happened to be Oladipo. He bursted down the right slot for the tough lay-in. Off the make, he pressured full court, deflecting and stealing the ball leading to the eventual Max Strus lay-in. He followed all that up with a three-point flurry in the second quarter. Catch and shoot looks as the Herro-Oladipo combo just continues to impress.

#2: We know Tyler Herro the scorer. We know Tyler Herro the passer. But how about Tyler Herro out of set actions?

Final possession of the second quarter, as the ball is placed in the hands of Tyler Herro. The entire goal is to get a shot with ideally 0 seconds on the clock, as he tries to time it. They run a variation of Spain PnR, as it’s a Herro-Orlando pick and roll, with Strus rising to the left wing off a ghost screen. Herro takes that extra dribble and step to pressure the defense, then zips it to Strus for the buzzer beater three. I may have just described one single play, but we’ve seen it much more frequently than that. I often harp on the Herro-Bam PnR, which we saw a good amount of tonight, but the more complex actions with multiple things going on fits his style. Moving parts is key for him, since one of his biggest strengths is manipulating off-ball defenders. He knows now that he gets a ton of extra attention at this stage, but now he’s realizing how to truly use it to his advantage.

#3: It’s time to flush three-point reliance…Well, to an extent.

We often hear in post game conversations that the goal for this Heat team is to hit that 40 three bench mark. In a very new age of basketball, it’s almost necessary to keep up with many of these high powered offenses. But the way to get to that baseline needs to be the result of another priority. When I look at guys like Jimmy Butler, Adebayo, Oladipo, and even Herro, they are their best versions following a heavy rim attack diet. Not only does it get them into an individual rhythm, but it shrinks the floor just enough for shooters to follow. Watching Adebayo’s attack, Oladipo’s rim pressure, and Herro’s in-between floater and passing game tonight, it only furthers that point. This team has totally fallen off the map in the three-point region, while also recognizing it can return at any point. But relying on that resurgence will never be the answer. Strong drives, free throw attempts, and rim pressure is the true Miami Heat MVP.

#4: The Heat’s inconsistencies appearing in the third quarter yet again.

When talking about inconsistencies in that third quarter, I could sit here and talk about specific possessions like when Bam had Mike Conley on his back under the basket, and that play resulted in two contested three pointers from Kyle Lowry and Haywood Highsmith. Process is important, but the offense wasn’t the issue again tonight. Back to back nights, this team just couldn’t generate stops on the defensive end for large pockets of time. When looking at specifics, it really comes down to something Erik Spoelstra harped on a few weeks ago: containing the ball. That’s where it all begins. If this team doesn’t pressure that initial creator, you’re betting on weaker defenders in tougher rotations once that initial paint touch is made. It’s something that needs

#4: Late-game discussion: Adebayo, Oladipo, Herro lead way.

Victor Oladipo sits at the top of the key with Kelly Olynyk guarding him 1-on-1. A screen comes and a miscommunication follows, as Oladipo drifts down the lane into a massive and-1 dunk right at the rim over Walker Kessler. That was pretty much a needed spark. The Heat picked up on the defensive end, which began with Oladipo up at the top, as turnovers flowed in. A Herro fast-break 2 into an eventual Oladipo rip and Adebayo and-1 shot in his in-between range looked like Miami found themselves for a large stretch. Fast forward to a bit later with 3 minutes left in the game, the Heat are up by 5. Herro snakes inside after drawing 2, feeds it to Bam in that mid-post, who fires a face-up jumper over his defender to give Miami a 7 point lead. As you would expect, the Jazz cut into that lead a bit, forcing Miami to execute to perfection late. With a 4 point lead with 30 seconds left, it looked like the Heat would dribble it out as long as possible. Herro ended up taking a deep three with 9 seconds left on the shot clock, giving the Jazz a chance on the break. Fast forwarding to late-game, a terrible foul call gives Markannan three free throws to tie. As Herro answers with the game winning three point floater. Happy New Year.