The Miami Heat took down the Chicago Bulls late, after a rough offensive first half. While Jimmy Butler controlled throughout, Goran Dragic stepped up late to pull them away. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Rough overall offensive flow in first half, except when Jimmy Butler has the ball.
It’s a similar theme every single night, since the offensive production heavily decreases when Jimmy Butler exits the floor. But tonight was much different, since there was absolutely nothing being generated when he was off the floor. Pretty decent ball-movement on the perimeter leading to contested three-point attempts, which mostly clanked off the rim. We can discuss Miami’s three point shooting being bad as of late, but there just has to be an alternative. Attacking the basket off the dribble should be utilized a lot on nights like this, but the personnel just doesn’t allow them to do that. Goran Dragic seems a step slow at times to completely get downhill consistently, while Tyler Herro just doesn’t seem to have that in his arsenal at the current stage.
#2: Kendrick Nunn seems to be the only comfortable role player.
While guys like Dragic and Herro seemed a bit out of whack in the first half tonight, Kendrick Nunn actually appeared to be the complete opposite. Even when offense is stagnant, he finds ways to generate offense for himself, which is the most important thing right now. He got to the mid-range early, and knocked down two nice looking triples to bail Miami out of empty possessions. Once again, talking about Nunn in this fashion is much different compared to a couple months ago. He’s become a consistent figure for this team, who is much more comfortable in different spots throughout the game to keep the team flowing into efficient offense. Playing in his hometown of Chicago aside, he has done this every single night since being inserted into the starting lineup, which has mostly translated to wins.
#3: Chris Silva inserted into the game before Precious Achiuwa.
Although Chris Silva and Precious Achiuwa played the same amount of minutes in the first half, which was a whopping 3 minutes each, it was quite interesting to see Silva get thrown in first. Since Bam Adebayo was out again, it seemed like it would be Achiuwa’s first chance to get some increased run at the NBA level, but somehow that didn’t happen. Now, on a night Miami struggled offensively, it wasn’t like Achiuwa would fix that majorly, but Silva essentially gives you the same exact thing. The pick and roll seemed worthless early on, but Achiuwa had a nice finish on a lob as soon as he checked in, which makes this decision very interesting. There might be more to this continued decision, but the overall trust level has surprisingly decreased since the beginning of the season. Coach Spo went to Silva in the second half as well, and he gave them some quality minutes as they made their fourth quarter run.
#4: Kelly Olynyk stepping into Bam Adebayo’s role yet again.
Kelly Olynyk has been a real bright spot in the games Bam Adebayo has missed, mostly since he’s been utilized in a different way than usual. Instead of being the offensive floor spacer, he has actually been the guy they work their offense through on the perimeter. And since he’s playing that role, the play-making abilities have continued to be on display. Not just through the constant action where there’s an off-ball screen for Butler leading to a lob, but also finding cutters when he’s in the post. As I discussed earlier, the offense looked very rough throughout the night, and without Olynyk generating offense when Butler wasn’t on the ball, it could’ve looked a lot worse.
#5: Goran Dragic gets hot in the fourth after tough first half.
The overall consensus in the first half when the offensive struggles occurred was when Goran Dragic would step up per usual, or if he would ever step up. Everybody’s always awaiting that stretch where he tails off a bit due to his age, but just as that showed for some time, it all turned around. Yet again, Dragic did what he does best late in the game, which is bailing the team out when they need it most. Hitting much needed triples, as well as getting to the rim consistently to generate offense for others. The non-Butler minutes will continue to get harped on due to the clear fall-off that occurs when he exits, but if Dragic can sustain it while Adebayo is out, the team will be in good shape.