The Miami Heat faced off against the Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks in game 5, and came away with the win 103-94. This was behind the outstanding play of Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk, surprisingly on both sides of the ball. Here are my five takeaways…
#1: Turnovers early became problematic for Heat’s starting lineup.
Miami’s starting lineup had issues to start the game, since their offense was very choppy. This led to six turnovers to start the game, and three of them coming from Jimmy Butler. Miami has continued to pride themselves in their efficient and smooth ball-movement and passing throughout the season. But this was not the case for Jimmy Butler and company in the first quarter. Luckily, Miami’s second unit stepped up to bring Miami all the way back, which will be discussed further down the line. The Heat will need to take care of these turnover issues, since if you do that against a team like the Boston Celtics, they will indeed make you pay. But ultimately, this is the reason Miami plays their veteran guys so much in these situations, since they can settle Miami down.
#2: Jimmy Butler uncomfortable early, Andre Iguodala steps up as on court leader.
As talked about previously, Jimmy Butler was very careless with the ball in his hands early, which gave him three turnovers out the gate. But, veteran Andre Iguodala came in and took control of Miami’s offense. He’s continually been a guy that has made a major impact on the defensive side of the ball when he enters, but he was clearly more of a floor general tonight. His ability to slow the game down against a Milwaukee team that wants to run the break was fully on display. Another thing that stood out was that he’s able to slow the offense down, with rookie’s Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn on the floor, which is not easy to do.
#3: Miami’s second unit brings the intensity that they needed.
When discussing Miami’s issues to start the game, I mentioned that the second unit stepped up majorly on offense. Well, that’s exactly what happened. For starters, Kendrick Nunn appeared to be in mid-season form with the ball in his hands, attacking the rim with fire in his eyes. Kelly Olynyk played a great game shooting the ball from deep, but actually stood out with his defensive disruption in the paint. Tyler Herro was scoring the ball at will, and displayed more of that outstanding play-making abilities throughout, especially on the break. This is something Duncan Robinson mentioned yesterday, when he said that his passing stands out more than his scoring. And of course, Andre Iguodala. As I described before, Andre’s ability to provide veteran on-court leadership is a major attribute for this team right now. And his ability to disrupt Khris Middleton proved to be important as well. If Miami gets this bench unit every game, they’ll be a tough team to compete with.
#4: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo seemed scared to score the ball.
It clearly wasn’t the same Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo that we’ve seen throughout this series. And it’s not that they were off, it’s that they aren’t searching to score the ball. Neither player prioritizes their scoring abilities, but when things are getting rough on offense, they need to step up. Jimmy has the ability every play to attack the basket and get a foul or a bucket. Bam, on the other hand, has been given the open mid-range that he’s taken advantage of in prior games. These two guys will need to be more assertive in the next series with the ball in their hands, especially in games that guys like Duncan Robinson are blanketed.
#5: As Miami heads to the Eastern Conference Finals, they need to put these past two games behind them.
The Miami Heat clearly haven’t played to the best of their abilities in the past two games. But although that is true, they must put these two games behind them to be totally focused for Boston or Toronto. I don’t have much doubt that this team of mentally tough players will be totally locked in, but they must press a total reset. For one, their offense should be able to go back to normal, using the roaming Duncan Robinson as they did all season. And obviously Miami’s defensive scheme will change, since both Boston and Toronto spread the floor tremendously. But now, it’s time for Miami to both physically and mentally reset, to get back to their early series play.