The Miami Heat fell short in game one against Milwaukee, in a very odd game all around. Jimmy Butler sent the game to overtime on a buzzer beating layup, while his overall performance wasn’t as positive. Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson kept them in it throughout, but it ultimately wasn’t enough, after a Khris Middleton jumper in overtime to take the lead with 0.5 left. Here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Miami’s early offense was, indeed, a flash from the past.
As explained in my previews throughout the week, I mentioned that the initial adjustment for Miami would occur on the offensive side of the ball, reverting back to DHO’s with Duncan Robinson. The reasoning was due to Brook Lopez’s deep drop giving Robinson more than enough room to get shots off, and he did just that to begin the game. Three triples early in the first quarter came out of that set, and well, that was pretty much all they got from that area of the floor, which I will discuss next. It’s great to see Robinson getting these type of looks in a playoff setting, since his only way of offense throughout the season has been either catch and shoot or high pick and roll stuff. As Milwaukee did last year in the post-season, they will start to send more out to the three-point line to eliminate Robinson’s looks, which is where Bam Adebayo comes into play.
#2: Shooting was far from being pretty on both sides.
Miami shooting 8 for 21 from beyond the arc in the first half may look bad, but not as bad as Milwaukee’s 2 for 17 shooting display. The exact opposite was the expectation in this series, since both teams give up a good amount of threes. Shots just weren’t falling on both ends, but that shouldn’t discredit each team’s defense. The Bucks did a good job of chasing Miami off the line and forcing them into tough shots at the end of the shot clock. And by the way, it wasn’t only threes that weren’t falling early, since they only shot 30% on twos in the first half as well. The looks that many expected Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro to knock down against the drop, wasn’t occurring as frequently. And well, the shooting from Miami’s stars definitely didn’t help, as I dive into next.
#3: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo struggle in first half.
3 for 16 from the field in the first half of game one of the playoffs is not what was expected for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but that’s exactly what happened. Butler had the mid-range jumper plenty of times, but charged the basket instead, leading to plenty of missed bunnies. But at least Butler was trying to generate offense. Adebayo was not taking advantage of the offensive space that I’ve been discussing all week. One possession in the second quarter told the whole story: Adebayo searches for a DHO on the elbow with nobody near him, and looks to pass to Butler who waves his arm for him to go. Adebayo uncomfortably and reluctantly turned into a jumper which clanked off the rim. The moments in which his jumpers are effective is when he’s comfortably shooting them. And that first half proved he wasn’t comfortable in that role.
#4: Miami’s bench was an absolute roller coaster with positives outweighing the negatives.
When discussing the Heat’s bench as a roller coaster in this game, it’s the perfect description. For starters, Goran Dragic played with great pace and burst throughout this game, which was the one element that was unexpected to begin the series. He was one of the few guys that gave Miami positive minutes all the way through, which is a positive element for this team as they go forward. Another positive bench player was Dewayne Dedmon, since he just carried over his regular season role perfectly into the playoffs. He fights on the boards, contests shots at the rim, and has an odd level of efficiency around the rim. Lastly, Tyler Herro rounded out the phrase roller coaster with the second unit. He wasn’t in his normal rhythm as Milwaukee hounded him, and couldn’t get to the spots in the drop that many expected heading in, but began to become his usual self in the fourth for a spurt. An interesting element to the Heat’s reserves is that some night’s they can be the team’s biggest boost, while being the team’s biggest downfall other games.
#5: Once again, this isn’t last year, meaning overall schemes change.
My last takeaway from this game is that this isn’t the same series, and last year shouldn’t continually be harped on. The reason for Miami stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo was not because of Jae Crowder alone. They built a scheme that included Crowder who did a great job of utilizing his strength against him. But he’s not here anymore, and Miami’s still going. Trevor Ariza does not provide the best one-on-one match-up for him, but one-on-one and Antetokounmpo are two things that don’t go together. They throw a bunch of guys at him, which is why it’s been so effective over time. So, my final point is that harping on the past is just a lazy take at this point of the season. They have their guys, they have their adjustments, and it’s working just fine on the defensive end.