The Miami Heat lost to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night in the last game before the trade deadline. Since there wasn’t many takeaways from this game particularly, I took some turns into trade additions. So, here are five takeaways from not only this game, but the team overall…
#1: The shot-creating/play-making absence apparent.
Instead of utilizing my first takeaway to discuss shooting struggles every single night, it’s important to instead evaluate the reasoning or replacement necessary. The shot-creators are the ones who are currently being discussed in possible trades, and tonight’s game only furthered that point of need. One example is the box score half-way through the second quarter. Miami’s bench included Trevor Ariza with 1 shot attempt, Tyler Herro with 3 shot attempts, Andre Iguodala with 0 shot attempts, and Gabe Vincent with 0 shot attempts. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, it just shows the areas that Miami takes a major decline in when Butler steps off the floor, which the struggles tonight were actually with Butler on the floor as well as I will discuss next.
#2: An off Jimmy Butler night early basically digs Miami a deeper hole.
When Butler finds himself on one of these pieces, it’s usually in a very positive manner. But tonight just was not his night, as he just looked out of sync on offense early on, leading to a 15 point deficit at the half. The point of this discussion is not to talk about Butler struggles, since an off-night was pretty much due. But it furthers the point about the supporting cast, since although the Heat have struggled on exceptional Butler nights, they just have zero chance when he has the slightest of issues. Now, not to insert the trade possibilities into every point, but this is another reason for that being a necessity. That Kyle Lowry or Victor Oladipo type is the guy who makes the difference when that occurs by taking over as an on-ball threat.
#3: The Bam Adebayo element: Reading the situation.
Bam Adebayo has a unique gift to read the floor, attack match-ups, and make the right decisions as an extraordinary play-maker. The only issue with that is sometimes that unselfishness takes control, leading to the constant worry of getting other players going. Butler has been a culprit of this as well over his Heat tenure, since he’s capable of dominating as soon as the ball is tipped, but decides to get his teammates into a flow. But this situation is completely different, since it’s been a common theme of offensive struggles with the over-reliance on role players. It’s just a clear area that may need a bit more selfishness inserted in order to give the team the best chance to win, since forcing back-door bounce passes to get another player into some sort of rhythm actually doesn’t help all the time.
#4: Kendrick Nunn silently having one of his better games of the season.
Now, while a lot of people may want to only hear Kendrick Nunn’s name when it’s attached to a trade deal, his performance tonight must be noted. When it seemed as if this game was clearly out of reach, Nunn battled in the third quarter scoring 13 points, and cutting the Suns’ lead down slightly. It’s no surprise that he can score the ball, especially after an incredible run after being inserted into the starting lineup, but then he began to fall off a bit for this last stretch. And well, that’s the Kendrick Nunn story, since consistency can’t really be counted on. Either way, his fight throughout this game to either try and win or to boost his personal stock seemed to work, as he showed the upside to his game, which begins and ends with scoring.
#5: Who could this be the last of with Miami?
The final and overall takeaway from this game is the looming thought of what this team may look like past the deadline. The Heat’s next game is on Thursday at 7:30 while the trade deadline is on Thursday at 3:00. So, that means this could be the last game for a few players wearing that Miami Heat jersey, or it could just be yet another game of many if they elect to keep this same team. While that may not be a statement many want to hear, it’s just something to prepare for if these discussed trades don’t work out. Now, in my opinion, instead of diving even deeper into trade packages, player fits, and more, this game tonight was basically the icing on the cake of this team needing a spark. And well, there are some “sparks” on Miami’s current radar.