The Miami Heat lost to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, which originally began as an absolute blowout, but ended as a close battle. Although the main takeaways are negative tonight due to the Heat’s poor play early on, it’s a constant theme of playing in a consistent fashion for 48 minutes, since they were really solid down the stretch. So, here are five takeaways from this game.
#1: Well, let’s start with allowing 72 points at the half.
Now, this clearly won’t be the most positive post-game piece after Charlotte pulled away much earlier than ever expected. Open triple after open triple led to the Hornets expanding their lead more and more, beginning with Malik Monk looking like the team’s owner, Michael Jordan, when he plays the Miami Heat. When evaluating the issues on the Heat’s end, it’s just clearly the definition of the second night of a back to back on the defensive end. Late rotations became the theme in the first half, while the effort on that end was not up to the expected level to begin the game, which is needed against the offensive firepower in Charlotte.
#2: That one player not able to break away from the pack in points category.
When scanning through the box score at the half, the biggest takeaway is that one player wasn’t able to break away from the rest in the scoring column. Butler and Nunn led with 10, while Ariza, Adebayo, and Robinson followed behind with 6 points. But on a night like tonight, they need that one guy to takeover for different stretches. Adebayo and Herro did that for Miami against Portland last night, but they combined for 10 points at the half tonight. Obviously Victor Oladipo, Nemanja Bjelica, and Goran Dragic are still not playing with this Heat team yet, but it’s no excuse when evaluating this team as a whole. They’re built as a team with a bunch of options, but none of those options seemed to have it tonight.
#3: The optimistic perspective.
After diving into each of Miami’s issues on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, is there anything positive to draw from this game? Well, I don’t know about the description positive, but this definitely puts some things in perspective, which is hard to do while the team is on a 6 game losing streak. So, take a look at the rotation tonight, since although they had more than enough guys to step up, the bench makes it quite interesting. For one, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent are getting consistent minutes, which isn’t a terrible thing since they’ve played well, but it’s a role that they won’t ever play for this team. Also, Precious Achiuwa is still the Adebayo relief guy, which may not be the case once Miami solidifies their signing from the buyout market. The point is that this rotation might look a lot different on Monday night, which may force you into a bit more of an optimistic view.
#4: Trevor Ariza’s high minutes changing Andre Iguodala’s role.
When discussing a change at a position, this does not consist of some young guys battling it out to stay in the rotation, such as a Kendrick Nunn. The actual positional battle I’m referring to is the two veteran wings, Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza. Aside from Ariza being inserted into the starting lineup next to Adebayo recently, there has seemed to be high trust levels in Ariza since he first joined the team. It’s widely known that Iguodala isn’t the biggest fan of regular season play, which makes this certain insertion even more effective, but some of the newcomers make this interesting. Not just Nemanja Bjelica, but also a possible LaMarcus Aldridge addition links some question marks to the rotation moving forward. Although it may not hold much importance at the current moment, it will for Coach Spoelstra as the season progresses, and he must choose between the better shooter and the better defender, who can each sprinkle in the opposite element.
#5: Miami battles until the final buzzer, showcasing some grit to fight back.
Although it’s still not the result many may want, it was a pretty impressive run that this Heat team went on beginning late in the third quarter. Although the offensive side of the ball will be looked toward first after they went on a 25-8 run, the defensive rotations were night and day compared to the first quarter. They were locked in on that end of the floor, didn’t foul as much, and contested well on those same Charlotte triples. The offensive side of the ball was a slow grind with a three here and a three there, but Tyler Herro was the headliner for a short stretch. He showcased that same confidence in his scoring abilities, but then it began to tail off as the fourth quarter progressed. Those same triples were not falling late in the fourth when they needed it most from him, but then Adebayo stepped up late in the fourth for an exceptional stretch under two minutes to go. This then leads to the constant eyebrow raises about Adebayo not realizing how talented he is all 48 minutes.