The Miami Heat got a much needed win against the Indiana Pacers, expanding their win streak to 2 games, gaining great momentum for Victor Oladipo’s debut tomorrow night. This game had its ups and downs like every other Miami Heat game, but the defensive side of the ball was quite impressive tonight. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game…
#1: Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic were the Heat’s offense early.
While I’ll dive into the negative aspect of Miami’s offense next, Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic were huge positives in their own ways. Robinson is back to his usual shooting ways, which means there is no more discussions about shots not falling, since the attempts are the main topic again. The only time it felt Miami was getting a good shot in the first half, was when Robinson was letting a three fly, which the efficiency numbers basically prove that to be true. Goran Dragic basically carried the offense as well after Robinson hit two threes to begin the game. It doesn’t take Dragic very long to get back into a rhythm, since it only took him one game to utilize his strong ability to get to the rim and kiss the ball off the glass.
#2: Shooting roller coaster continues for Miami.
The offensive observation tonight was more than the actual field goal percentage numbers, since the amount of time that nothing was generated truly stood out. Although Butler wasn’t his usual self early on, they missed him when he went to the sideline since it basically eliminates their drive and kick game, due to the lack of an attacking sidekick, who will make his debut tomorrow. The length of time that they couldn’t get a shot to drop, while settling for contested three point jumpers, basically sums up the overall takeaway of their offense that is displayed on every one of these takeaway pieces. Another way to look at the first half issues begins with their two stars, which I will dive into next, since when they aren’t clicking, it’s hard for others to do so as well.
#3: Trailing by 2 at the half, while Adebayo and Butler don’t have a made field goal, is…..interesting.
Usually it’s the complete opposite takeaway with the Miami Heat, since Adebayo and Butler step up when needed, but the counter parts aren’t able to capitalize on their strengths. But well, it was the complete opposite tonight, since Adebayo and Butler did not have a made field goal through the first 24 minutes of basketball. Now, there are a couple ways to look at this, since the positive outlook is that they only trailed by 2 although all of that occurred. It was also a good sign to see the role players step up at times to make certain pushes to at least keep them afloat. The negative outlook is that you’re two best players should probably have a field goal in a whole half, which turns the eyes back to that aggression. Myles Turner had a lot to do with that, since his paint presence may lead to decreasing Miami’s downhill abilities, but through long droughts, the reliance should be on the key guys, instead of awaiting for an Andre Iguodala or Trevor Ariza triple to drop.
#4: Butler’s third quarter defense changes the pace of the game.
Butler’s third quarter defensive impact was much more than the two early charges on Domantas Sabonis to give Miami extra offensive opportunities. Although he began to score well in the third as well, the amount of times that he deflected a pass or got a steal was just constant, as he wrecked havoc on that end of the floor. It’s aside from the numbers, since he also has a tendency to force players into bad shots or bad passes, due to his presence making ball-handlers uncomfortable. It’s not an easy task to change the pace of the game on the defensive end, especially when offense is stagnant, but Butler found a way to limit the Pacers’ scoring and created fast-break opportunities for the Heat.
#5: The Nemanja Bjelica role currently different than expected.
Nemanja Bjelica did not get minutes in the first half, and then checked in for a quick 5 minute stint in the third. Although there may not be a lot to observe from his game once again, since he still hasn’t attempted a shot up to this point, there are some initial things that have been noticed. For one, he does look a bit slow on the defensive end, as he flew out for three point contests, and was basically eliminated from the play completely. He hasn’t truly fit in with the Heat yet in his minutes, but that is expected due to the lack of major minutes so far. Trevor Ariza went through a similar process when first joining the team, except it’s pretty clear that Ariza doesn’t have any issues with getting his shots up. Bjelica may not be utilized in the expected role immediately, but it’s still early, so predictions shouldn’t be flying at the current stage.