The Miami Heat lost to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, due to Miami’s rugged offense and Indiana’s explosive offense. Miami loses two straight games for the first time since the West Coast trip, but they will play this same Indiana team on Sunday. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Miami’s defense struggles early, but offense somehow stands out more.
Although the Indiana Pacers scored 68 points in the first half, while the Heat put up 58, the issues on the offensive end seemed much more important to note, even though Miami pretty much allowed Indiana to skip through the lane to get to the basket. The reason for that is due to the overall perception of the offense, from inconsistencies to the lack of three point shooting all of a sudden. Miami shot 19% from beyond the arc in the first half, which has become a common theme for this team as of late. This reflects onto Miami’s plethora of guards, mostly the two in the starting lineup, in Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson. Nunn has looked to lose that overall scoring confidence with the ball in his hands that he regained when being inserted into the starting lineup, while Robinson has struggled in the adjustment from the sprinting DHO’s to other unique spacing. Until those two things are cleaned up, it’s hard to see Miami’s offense coming together.
#2: Tyler Herro keeping Miami afloat in first half, in an interesting way.
If there’s been anything that I’ve reiterated time and time again about Tyler Herro’s next big step, it’s that getting to the line elevates his game. Now, 3 for 9 from the field through 16 first half minutes may not scream keeping a team afloat, but the 6 for 6 from the free throw line does. He has a natural trait to avoid contact when taking it to the basket, instead of drawing the contact when defenders rise, but he actually drew more fouls with his jumper today. Not even through a pump-fake, but just through his natural shooting motion off the dribble. He was one of the few players for Miami that flashed any sense of an offensive run, since once the game flows into a rhythm in Miami’s favor, it’s when Herro truly begins to thrive on that side of the ball.
#3: Bam Adebayo early aggression was much needed for lack of spark.
Other than Herro’s short spurts discussed previously, Bam Adebayo was actually the guy who kept Miami going throughout. For one, he started off the game with 8 straight points, but I’m not so sure that’s a positive thing when evaluating the team as a whole. He also had 5 free throw attempts in the first half, which is when you usually know that’s he’s being aggressive on that end. When the team is shooting that poorly from deep, it’s even more important for him to generate offense through his individual actions with the ball in his hands. But even when he shoots 6 for 8 from the field in the first half, there are still moments that the offense must work through him instead of the repetitive drive and kicks. When he flashes that free throw jumper early, it seems like a good call to alter the offense a bit to find him at that free throw line to work from there.
#4: Indiana’s shooting catches fire, not only in third quarter, but throughout entire game.
The Indiana Pacers are one of those teams that just have plenty of options, and are a clear representation of “depth.” And well, that deep shooting rotation was shown tonight, since the efficiency numbers were through the roof from a shooting aspect. For one, Miami was giving up clear drives early on, mostly since tough offensive possessions result in poor defensive follow-ups. But the three point shooting was actually the aspect that began to kill Miami, since Indiana began to catch fire, while Miami couldn’t knock down one. I’m not exactly sure the high percentage shooting from Indiana can all be due to Miami’s defense, since they actually had some pretty good contests on a lot of their jumpers. Either way, this ties back to the first takeaway involving lack of offense and playing to Indiana’s pace.
#5: Kelly Olynyk struggles offensively, but that can be fixed with one change.
One of the main points I’ve made involving Kelly Olynyk proved to be true following Adebayo’s absence in that recent stretch. The offense ran through him on the perimeter, which basically allowed him to thrive in other facets of the game than three point shooting. Now, although the numbers say that the fit next to Adebayo is effective, it seems like a minor change may do him justice, as well as everybody on the team. It’s hard to truly evaluate Trevor Ariza after his short stint, but it seems like some type of small ball 4 can alter some offensive struggles, especially since Spoelstra loves to go that route come playoff time. When evaluating the current roster for changes, aside from the trade market, that may be the only possible rotational change that can make the difference.