The Miami Heat lost to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, in a game that three point shots were clearly not their friends. From Bam Adebayo’s lack of aggression to an injury scare with Jimmy Butler, it was a long night for Miami. But they’re going to have to lock back in immediately as they face the Nuggets in Denver less than 24 hours away. Anyways, take a look at five takeaways from this game…
#1: Duncan Robinson knocking down shots in a variety of ways.
Duncan Robinson began the game with an early explosion on the offensive side of the ball, but the shots falling isn’t the key element. The actual important part of it is the different ways that he’s scoring the ball. For one, I mentioned last game that he’s starting a lot of his sets a few feet behind the three-point line, especially being a threat from that range at this stage. That means he gets into high pick and roll sets with Bam Adebayo, leading to pull-up triples instead of straight DHO’s. It’s not all shooting for him as well, since he also is putting the ball on the floor quite regularly, while one hesitation on the wing into an up and under on Jae Crowder comes to mind immediately. If he continues to diversify his ways of scoring, it takes his level of effectiveness to another level.
#2: Trevor Ariza’s comfort levels growing game to game on both ends.
Trevor Ariza had a hot start as well for Miami, scoring a quick 10 points in the first quarter. It’s interesting that it occurred in this game, due to the constant comparison between him and Jae Crowder. This showed that although Crowder had an outstanding run with the team, Ariza is capable of having hot stretches from deep as well, especially since his comfort levels with the team are still growing. But it’s not important to dwell on the offensive side of the ball with him, since his defense continues to stand out. I’ve highlighted his strengths of guarding smaller guards, but the overall consensus is that his length and quickness combination is a terror in the passing lanes. When discussing this Heat team forcing so many turnovers lately, it starts with Ariza’s initial disruption on the perimeter.
#3: Non-Adebayo minutes the real issue for Miami.
When evaluating the box score alone in the first half, the initial takeaway may be that Bam Adebayo didn’t make much of an offensive impact in the first half, due to only scoring 5 points and attempting 2 shots. But if you watched the game, it would tell you something completely different. The drop-off when Adebayo exits the floor is going to occur on the defensive end, since it’s impossible to mirror. But the offensive struggles when he exits has become more and more apparent. Although some of it has to do with his overall impact, Precious Achiuwa’s limitations as the relief guy lead to that as well. Another reason for that could be Robinson usually exiting around the same mark, but those two are a package deal when talking about the team’s offense, and it’s obvious that they must find a way to stay afloat when he takes a breather on the bench. Either way, 2 shot attempts in a half just won’t cut it when facing top tier teams like the Suns.
#4: The pre-Oladipo takeaway: lacking a secondary attacker next to Butler.
When taking a look at Miami’s offense as a whole tonight, other than the shooting struggles from beyond the arc, the overall takeaway that has been discussed for weeks on weeks has made a return. The reason the Victor Oladipo pick-up was so crucial for Miami was due to adding an attacker next to Butler, since they lack secondary downhill guys on this roster who can get there without a screen. Although Kendrick Nunn doesn’t fully fall under that category, he definitely isn’t afraid to attack hard off pick and rolls, as well as fast-break opportunities. But the foul trouble had him sidelined for significant minutes, leading to that hole in the offense being even larger than usual.
#5: The overarching Goran Dragic takeaway.
The Goran Dragic discussion is quite interesting at this stage, since it’s been an extended stretch of time where the same things continue to occur. The things he once gave Miami offensively have slowly faded away. There’s a lack of burst off the dribble, not enough lift on his jumper, and many other things pointing toward the question marks of his postseason effectiveness. A main reason he was able to go on an incredible run in the bubble was due to the amount of rest he got prior. Now, he’s battling himself in a gritty NBA season, while Miami’s overall inconsistencies aren’t helping the cause. There are still moments that this team looks to him to be that takeover player, but that’s just not him at this stage, which means somebody’s aggression must increase, beginning with the young centerpiece Bam Adebayo who has yet to realize it.