The Miami Heat swept the two game set against the Boston Celtics, meaning the Heat solidify a top six seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid the play-in tournament. A good start for Jimmy Butler turned into an unexpected ending, since he sat out the second half after being poked in the eye early on. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Boston Celtics meet Tyler Herro. Tyler Herro meet the Boston Celtics.
If anything is clear between the Heat and Celtics, it’s that they’re very aware of the play of Tyler Herro after a 37 point performance in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. That didn’t end there, since he came out to play on Tuesday night against the Celtics as well. He scored 15 first half points on 7 for 9 shooting, which just shows that it didn’t consist of set shooting, catch and shoot threes. If you were to ask which part of the floor he began to get it going from, it was the mid-range, which has become a staple of his young career. Other than usual pull-up mid range jumpers against drop coverage, he seems to be navigating different defensive coverages a lot better lately. His go-to move off the dribble is the snake dribble, but he’s added on to that a bit. He’s keeping guys on his hip before pulling into his high arcing shot, which is crucial for his offensive success moving forward.
#2: Some Heat star power early aggression.
Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro combined for 43 points in the first half, and that was the most important thing about this game for Miami. Although I dove into Herro already, the stats of Butler and Adebayo were going to be crucial in this game, mostly in the shot attempt area. Dwyane Wade said pregame on TNT that Coach Spo should be telling his players to treat this as a game 7, and game sevens are for star players. Adebayo had the mid-range jumper falling early, while taking advantage of mismatches in the post frequently. Butler had some jumpers falling as well, but the usual free throw line antics was the story line, which is so essential for this team due to the fact an aggressive Butler translates to good offense for Miami. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier had big first halves as well for Boston with 17 a piece, which shows how much of an offensive half it was.
#3: How much did it cost to get Dewayne Dedmon again?
Dewayne Dedmon has found himself on most of these post-game pieces, but it’s for good reasons. For starters, the big picture thought about the cost of acquiring him is mind-boggling due to the amount of impact he’s currently bringing. The first description that must be brought up about his performance is consistency. His consistency game to game is not an easy element to bring to a team after a long period away from an NBA team. Miami knows exactly what he’s going to give them every night: rebounds, strong box-outs, easy buckets in the paint. The other area of consistency has to do with his scoring efficiency, since he hasn’t had a poor shooting night since joining the team. Obviously efficiency is much easier with a guy who plays the interior and doesn’t shoot a bunch of shots, but it’s still very impressive.
#4: Third Quarter: Butler steps back, Robinson steps up.
Jimmy Butler came out of halftime, motioning towards Coach Erik Spoelstra with an apparent eye injury. With him out, somebody was going to need to step up. Adebayo did that majorly on the offensive end, yet he wasn’t the third quarter story-line. Well, that’s because Duncan Robinson had one of the best all-around quarters that I’ve ever seen him play. Great defensive positioning in isolation, pushing the pace in transition, rising the intensity, and of course, knocking down threes. He got to the free throw line after some back and forth with Marcus Smart, which is not a familiar area of the floor for Robinson. But when that occurs multiple times in a quarter, other things begin to open up. Seeing him find ways to score on his own is the ultimate explanation of his offensive growth, which is much more than scoring at this stage.
#5: A best case scenario in terms of confidence for this Heat team.
In one of the biggest games of the season for this Heat team, Miami didn’t have Jimmy Butler for a half. And yet, that didn’t seem to matter. I dove into some of the individual performances of the night, but this is much more than the nightly numbers. This team was looking for a certain spark approaching the post-season with this Boston series, and that spark just got a whole lot larger. Seeing role players step up is not only essential for the team overall, but Butler in particular. While he’s battling an injury, his team showed up for him, which is the type of trust he needs heading into playoff mode. People were talking about the importance of this game throughout the week, but this result is much more meaningful than originally expected.