The Miami Heat beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, which expands their winning streak to 4 games and puts them 2 games over .500. Although Victor Oladipo didn’t have the expected offensive bounce back game, he impacted in other ways, and ultimately was a needed game to give him extra run in the offense. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Miami’s switching scheme benefiting personnel, Ariza on guards and Butler on bigs.
The switching scheme was a bit interesting to begin the season since there were many breakdowns occurring through Bam Adebayo’s switch, leading to a weaker defender being stuck on a big. But now that Miami has quite the list of versatile defenders, it makes Adebayo’s life a lot easier. For one, Trevor Ariza looks much more comfortable when defending opposing guards, which is perfect due to the amount of times he ends up seeing that match-up. Another interesting element to this switching is Jimmy Butler, since although nothing has changed, his ability to guard post players is shown time and time again. It also seems like Adebayo realizes that, since he’s even more willing to switch onto the perimeter when Butler’s involved in the PnR.
#2: Duncan Robinson is still firing, making slight adjustments.
The Duncan Robinson takeaway seems to be locked into this post-game piece now, since he’s shooting the three-ball the way that many have been awaiting for quite some time. The usual DHO and catch and shoot opportunities are still there, but another element was shown tonight, as well as a lot of the games lately. The one dribble side step on the perimeter is quite simple for the offensive player, but the complete opposite for the defensive player. The amount of gravity he holds on the three-point line is well known, which leads to constant fly-outs, leading to that side step eliminating them from the play. It’s once again about finding ways to get open shots for Robinson, and that is one simple way of doing so, while some more small changes should be on the way as well to truly maximize his ability.
#3: Coach Spo goes a different route with the rotation tonight, as well as lineups.
Due to Andre Iguodala being out, it was clear that the line of wings was a bit short tonight. So, Miami went to even more of the three guard lineups, mostly with Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Victor Oladipo. This lack of wings also led to Nemanja Bjelica getting some run next to Bam Adebayo, which is different since them being the two primary bigs means they’ve had to constantly be interchanged. Precious Achiuwa got some run as the relief guy, meaning he was the one who fulfilled the nine man rotation. Kendrick Nunn not getting inserted into that 9 man rotation was expected, but still an intriguing discussion to be had. He wasn’t going to get minutes over Dragic or Herro off the bench, but considering he was playing some pretty good basketball before being replaced, makes this conversation a bit different.
#4: Trevor Ariza finding his offensive fit, which begins with knocking down triples.
When discussing a guy who has continually been looked at as the 3 and D specialist, the three side of it hasn’t made many appearances, while the defense side has explicitly. But tonight, three-balls were falling, and that has a lot to do with him getting a few games under his belt, which means he’s beginning to find his offensive fit. Although knocking down catch and shoot threes is an important element, the spacing seems to be the bigger concern when first joining the team. Victor Oladipo is currently going through that at the moment, but Ariza seems to have passed that point now, generating the needed space when mentioning the 4 spot next to Adebayo.
#5: Bam Adebayo’s efficiency continues to fly under the radar, while shining in wins.
Bam Adebayo’s field goal stat category is the first stat observed after a loss, since his attempts are constantly harped on, but it seems like it never gets discussed following wins. He has consistently been a very efficient player, and he’s definitely not the traditional center who just takes shots at the basket. The mid-range pull-ups are becoming a natural occurrence, while he sprinkles in many different crafty ways to score. It’s clear that he is a very unselfish player who can rack up plenty of assists with the amount of offense that runs through him, but that level of efficient offense should not be taken for granted, since although Robinson threes or Butler drives are looked at as the focal point at times, the Adebayo scoring is actually the primary element.