The Miami Heat’s winning streak ended on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. After some early open looks from beyond the arc for the Grizzlies, following that up with a third quarter Dillon Brooks explosion, led to Miami playing from behind throughout. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Bam Adebayo comes out with early offensive aggression.
Some may point to a certain ESPN ranking, which placed Bam Adebayo at 9 among the top player’s potential under the age of 25, for the reason of this early aggression. Others may just call it inevitable when he’s facing favorable match-ups in certain areas. Jonas Valanciunas was basically begging Adebayo to shoot a wide open mid-range jumper throughout, so he did just that. But he really looked to attack in spurts that many have been awaiting for quite some time. Forcing that defense to collapse benefits the shooters on the floor, which is why both Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro had some good looks early on. Coach Spoelstra always has that interesting offensive card in his back pocket to throw down in a playoff series, and that may just be unleashing Adebayo to play as free as can be.
#2: The one negative defensive aspect on display.
Defense has been quite the topic when discussing the Miami Heat as of late, but the negative side of things must be harped on. Adebayo switches in the pick and roll may have been cured a bit with the newest defensive acquisitions, but now it’s a new obstacle for him. As I asked him following the past game, it seems to be more about reading the defender in the PnR than it does the offensive player. Although he may be able to switch when the PnR includes Jimmy Butler, who is very capable of guarding a big, other guys on the roster aren’t as capable. As he responded to my question, there’s a heavy reliance on that backside rotation, which may not consist of the correct guys while Adebayo is eliminated from the play on the perimeter. That exact mindset led to 10 first half triples for the Grizzlies, while most of them being wide open due to that exact defensive takeaway.
#3: Tyler Herro finding an offensive rhythm.
As I already touched on Adebayo’s early offensive explosion, Tyler Herro followed that right up with a very efficient start of his own. The two of them combined for 21 first quarter points on 82% shooting, which is very impressive. Herro was doing it in many different ways, including some catch and shoot threes, as well as mid-range floaters out of a pick and roll. Although he showcased this all for many stretches, it’s apparent that he fades away in the offense during other spurts. When other creators, like Victor Oladipo, are on the floor with him, it’s alright to allow them to run some things while he plays off the ball, but when he’s rolling like he did tonight, that decision is questionable. As I’ve mentioned since Miami picked up Oladipo, the most intriguing aspect will be the fit next to Herro. Oladipo has been super unselfish since joining the team, but Herro has to be able to control the offense and read a situation when he truly has it going.
#4: The Jimmy Butler third quarter comeback becoming a common theme.
Jimmy Butler third quarters have become a common theme recently, and I’m not so sure it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a positive element when discussing his ability to flip a switch to attack the basket and score with ease whenever he wants, while the negative aspect is letting two quarters pass by may lead to it being too late. Victor Oladipo will become a crucial part of Butler’s effectiveness for one reason: lineups. Butler and Adebayo continually have their minutes staggered, as they’re asked to lead their respective lineups. But once Oladipo can create consistent offense and score the ball, Adebayo and Butler may be able to play together for longer stretches, without allowing the lead to expand and continue to play from behind.
#5: A quick Victor Oladipo observation following first full practice.
This was going to be an interesting game for Victor Oladipo, since he was able to practice for the first time on Monday afternoon. Now, that may not mean he’s able to immediately fit into the offensive scheme since it still takes time, but it definitely gives an added feel for the scheme. Although he had his moments throughout the night, the one thing that seems to be holding him back has nothing to do with scheme. It’s actually his personal play style at the moment, which is a bit tense a lot of the time due to his unselfish play. Much like I’ve discussed with Butler and Adebayo, selfishness is needed in many spots of the game, and Oladipo has shown to be that type of player over his career. Once he gets fully acclimated with the offense that may come, but it’s important to monitor since they need him playing freely offensively for him to be at his best.