Well, the Miami Heat fell to the LA Clippers on Monday night, while they were without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley, and Nicolas Batum. This was a game that Miami needed to get in this tough West Coast road trip, but that wasn’t the case. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game….
#1: Jimmy Butler, the continued offensive glue throughout.
This is a constant theme with this Miami Heat team, since Jimmy Butler keeps everything in tact. For one, his ability to create for others and obtain the amount of assists that he has over this past stretch. But more importantly, his recent scoring should not be overlooked. Not just the amount of points, but the timing of those points. Butler can pretty much score in a variety of ways when he gets down hill whenever he wants, but it’s up to him to read the game to make that decision. When Miami goes through a tough stretch, it’s clear by Butler’s body language that he’s going to get to the basket, and try to get to the free throw line. Once again, it’s just not about the numbers when discussing Butler, since it’s more about the glue that he is with this Heat team.
#2: Tyler Herro with a needed early offensive spurt.
Tyler Herro was inserted into the game early on after Duncan Robinson picked up a couple fouls, and he began to get into a rhythm. But his offensive rhythm has come in a much different fashion this season. He has struggled a bit from beyond the arc this season, which has led to him shining when getting to the rim. He can control the pacing of a pick and roll much better, since he can play to his own speed with his pull-up jumper and lob pass abilities. Without Goran Dragic, Herro was needed to step up in certain spots offensively throughout, and he did that early on when Butler was on the sideline. And when he gets an efficient three ball again, it elevates all of those things that I just discussed.
#3: Defending the three point line an issue once again.
It seems like the copy and paste button could be utilized for these takeaway articles with this certain statement, since it’s a constant issue. Miami’s defense actually hasn’t been the reason for their struggles as of late, since their offense has been the problem focal point. But defending the three point line is still an issue with the current personnel. Marcus Morris was 6 for 7 from three in the first half, while Amir Coffey was 4 for 4 from beyond the arc in that span. The reason it’s an issue to discuss against this Clippers team is because there was no serious interior threat that would lead to constant paint crowding. Two threes from Morris came when Moe Harkless checked in, since he seemed to drop down off of him two possessions in a row, leading to that stat-line that is far from ideal.
#4: Miami’s depth not looking too deep at the moment.
When looking down the line at the moment, there’s not much offensive contributions off the bench, other than Tyler Herro. Tonight, Miami rolled with Herro, Max Strus, Precious Achiuwa, Andre Iguodala, and Moe Harkless off the bench, which they weren’t making much impact offensively throughout. The depth of this Heat team has been harped on, but that depth may not be so deep after all. Obviously Goran Dragic being out cuts that down a bit, but that doesn’t make a difference of the second unit as a whole. Iguodala will make a major impact when needed, mostly when playoff time comes around, while Achiuwa is still thriving in his small role, awaiting for a boost in minutes. If Miami can get added production from these types of guys, it takes a lot of weight off of Butler this early in the season.
#5: Precious Achiuwa showing more flashes in less minutes.
There’s not much more to dive into when discussing Achiuwa’s minutes moving forward, since he just plays every minute and second that Adebayo is off the floor. It doesn’t seem like them playing together will be utilized any time soon, which means this is about all that we will see from him in this role. He continues to bring intensity in short stints, which is hard to do since it’s tough to get into any type of natural flow. There are some small rookie mistakes that he makes, but that’s expected. Miami’s soft switches mean Achiuwa finds himself out on the perimeter a lot, which isn’t a problem for him, but it is a problem for the guard who is now guarding a center. His jumper looked pretty crisp tonight as well, which could be the only possible way for him to get into nightly lineups with Adebayo.