The Miami Heat played a tough game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday afternoon without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, and fell short 130-116. This game was clearly a tale of two halves, since Miami came out with fire in their eyes in the first half and became slightly complacent in the second half. Here’s my five takeaways from this game…
#1: Although a tough outcome, Miami should feel better than Milwaukee does.
The Miami Heat were going into a match-up with the best team in the NBA without two main pieces, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. But well, the team showed up in the first half. Emphasis on first half. They played at an elite level on both sides of the ball, which was pretty suprising. But, they slowly fell apart in the second half. It was evident this was because they did not have a go to guy on the floor. All of the best lineups this season included either Goran Dragic or Jimmy Butler. This is why Miami fans should feel pretty good about this game. Without veteran leadership on the court, it’s hard for guys to sustain a lead or close a game. With a healthy Jimmy and Goran, Milwaukee should hope that they don’t have to face this physical Heat team.
#2: Tyler Herro’s scoring wasn’t even his best attribute.
Tyler Herro exploded in the first half for 16 points, which lead to Miami’s huge lead. He proved that he can be good at many aspects of his game including his play-making, rebounding, and most importantly defense. His defense has been in question for quite some time along with his teammates Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn. But the difference with Tyler is that he continues to improve on defense every night. He played exceptional on-ball defense on the offensively talented guards and wings from Milwaukee’s roster. Tyler will need to clean up some mistakes with decision making that have consequently lead to turnovers, but the more he plays in games like this, the more he will learn.
#3: Miami’s wings prove to be the only viable Giannis stoppers. Well kind of.
The Heat began the game the same way they did in their two previous match-ups. Frustrating Giannis. Miami has pretty much showed that their plan against the Bucks is to contain Giannis, and let the supporting cast beat you. They continued to double team and draw fouls on Antetokounmpo, which lead to Miami’s huge lead. Miami’s ability to throw multiple bodies at Giannis is what separates them from the rest. They threw Bam, Crowder, Iguodala, and DJJ at him throughout, since this seems to be their only offense during tough stretches. But, you can only contain him so much. On a day that didn’t seem to go very well for Giannis, he still ended up with 33 points on 77% shooting. This will be a rough series for Giannis if they were to match-up, since he will have to outwork all of these guys 4 out of 7 times.
#4: Duncan Robinson is clearly an elite shooter, but finally overcoming tough defense.
Duncan Robinson has not only been an outstanding three point shooter, but an absolute efficient one. There began to be uncertainty if teams would begin to figure out Duncan’s game, like Toronto did early in the week, but he’s beginning to overcome it. He continues to show that he will need much more than a hand in his face to not have a green light. He has been using a pump-fake and side step fadeaways much more comfortably than he did before the NBA restart. Duncan is beginning to realize how huge his offensive role is on this team, which is why Miami runs on Duncan.
#5: Kendrick Nunn may be slowly playing his way out of the starting lineup.
Kendrick Nunn has been such an intriguing young player this season since he was a natural scorer. But well, this hasn’t been the case as of late. In a game that was supposed to be his breakout game, without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, it still didn’t occur. He scored 14 points on 29% shooting, and still has not shown improvements on the defensive side of the ball. And with Tyler Herro’s continued scoring and defensive improvements, he may be getting closer and closer to that starting point guard spot. If Kendrick doesn’t fix this quick, Spoelstra will have to make the decision going forward, which may occur even faster than you may expect.