The Miami Heat expand their win streak to six after a win against the Atlanta Hawks. The Heat were without Jimmy Butler, which meant a close game down the stretch was going to be a bit different. But Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo all hit needed shots to spark a 10-0 run late in the game. Here are five takeaways from the game….
#1: Gabe Vincent becomes an unexpected spark, occurring on a surprising side of the ball.
Well, Gabe Vincent fell onto this takeaway piece in an interesting way, since it usually means he had a great scoring night. His impact was actually felt on the defensive end, which seems to be the reason for his jump in minutes. Coach Spo trusts the 2-3 zone and full court press when Vincent and Andre Iguodala are at the top of it, which is an interesting duo. The clear point was to disrupt Trae Young on constant blitzes early, then team trapping in the sets that I just discussed. Vincent is a physical defender, which means fouls obviously come along with that, but the spark he brought for Miami in that first half was the reason the lead was as big as it was.
#2: Precious Achiuwa showing why he deserves consistent minutes.
Precious Achiuwa didn’t hear his name called on Friday night against the Utah Jazz, which was a bit of a surprise, even though Coach Spo made it clear he just wanted an extra perimeter defender on the floor. And well, Achiuwa had his name called tonight against the Hawks, and proved why he deserves minutes. You can question Achiuwa’s weak ball-handling skills at this stage, or his below average passing ability, but the one thing that can’t be questioned is his heart and constant battle on both ends of the floor. He was huge on the boards throughout the game, against a very active rebounder in Clint Capela. He’s always been an offensive threat on the roll above the rim, but he showed other abilities in his offensive game. He has a great feel for a defense, which means he can readjust a lob pass, take that one dribble, and go back up for a dunk. And that is not something a lot of young bigs have in their arsenal.
#3: Kendrick Nunn, the consistent piece once again.
Some people may be getting sick of hearing Kendrick Nunn’s name in every one of these takeaway pieces, but he absolutely deserves it and must be noted. He’s becoming the one consistent piece on the team for their offense, meaning the team knows what he will give them every single night. The intriguing part of his offensive game that I’ve noted a lot in the past, is his catch and shoot improvements. That may have something to do with an increased confidence that has been instilled in him, but wide open kick-outs to K-Nunn should worry a defense as much as anybody on the Heat. It’s been discussed that a huge reason for Nunn’s success over this stretch is Jimmy Butler, but tonight proved he’s just in a great rhythm individually. Also, the play-making attribute is beginning to take that big leap. It’s not about the assist numbers as much as it is the comfort level with setting up offense for Miami, and that will keep him on the floor, even if scoring tails off a bit for a stretch.
#4: A John Collins showcase game against Miami.
It seems necessary to stray off from Miami Heat analysis for a moment, to take a look at a guy Miami could be linked to in the near future, John Collins. Some may label this game as a bit of a showcase for Collins, who is a South Florida native, and if that was the case, he took full advantage of it. When evaluating certain power forwards to slot next to Bam Adebayo, Collins seems to fit that description pretty well. He proved that offense can work through him in any spot on the floor, and he’s definitely not just an above the rim threat. He has an ability to take guys off the dribble and get downhill, the mid-range pull-up and turn-arounds were falling, and the three point shot can clearly be utilized. He has some work to do defensively, but that can be tweaked upon arrival. This is the type of game that the organization will remember for some time when they’re looking to make a certain move.
#5: Tyler Herro struggles early in return, but gets into a rhythm in the fourth.
Tyler Herro definitely didn’t have the greatest start to his return, which is normal since it takes some time to get your legs back under you and get into any sort of rhythm. But well, it only took three quarters until he turned that around in the fourth quarter. There’s always a moment with Herro in which he flips a switch to retain offensive confidence, which is when his normal body language returns searching for a bucket. Goran Dragic getting inserted into the starting lineup meant that regular bench unit wasn’t seen once again, but it’ll clearly elevate both of their play by bouncing off one another, with an explosive big man reserve in Achiuwa. Herro may struggle with finding consistent one-on-one separation without an Adebayo screen, but he’s still young and improving in his strongest areas. If he can find a way to get consistent play after the All-Star break, barring no Covid contact tracing or injuries, that growth will be displayed the more he gets into a natural rhythm.