The Miami Heat faced off against the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon, and came away with a win after a late Tyler Herro three to ice it. Here are five takeaways from the game…
#1: Kendrick Nunn hops into starting lineup, and continues to thrive.
Kendrick Nunn jumped into the starting point guard position with Goran Dragic out, while Tyler Herro can continue his bench dominance. It’s clear that Nunn gives Miami the exact type of offensive play that they were missing in the starting lineup, since he’s a guy that can just get a bucket. He was basically the guy who kept Miami afloat in many of the early stretches with that lineup, especially since his catch and shoot abilities out on the perimeter were working. That’s the one part of his game that comes with some question marks any given night, since his ability to get to the basket has been pretty consistent as of late. He has proved himself in every opportunity he has been given this season to this point, and it seems that now he is here to stay.
#2: The new Tyler Herro role is what Miami has been missing.
There are a couple of elements to this new Tyler Herro role making sense for him as a player. For one, it allows him to play with a bit of freedom with the second unit, especially in the non-Jimmy Butler minutes. He is given the necessary spacing, along with a rolling big in Bam Adebayo or Precious Achiuwa. Erik Spoelstra has talked about “simplifying” the game for Achiuwa as much as possible, but why not do the same for Herro? He’s had a lot on his plate lately in the starting position, mostly since his biggest strength is playing with a scoring mentality. And well, that’s exactly what has been seen the past two games, while sprinkling in some lob and skip passes when attacking the basket. This role makes sense for both Herro and this Heat team, which will make even more sense when Goran Dragic returns.
#3: Defending the three continues to be an issue.
Now to some of the issues with this Heat team at the moment, Miami’s perimeter defense on three point shots continues to be problematic. Instead of getting into the exact specifics for these issues that I’ve discussed over and over, it seems necessary to discuss how can they overcome it with the current personnel. One way is by transitioning to a complete offensive team, since most of their one-way players are offensively sound, but that just does not seem like a viable option at this point. Not only would a Miami Heat team not do that, but their offense has been choppy in spurts this season as well. Also, a very known thing is that when shots are falling on offense, the defense begins to elevate slowly. So if Miami can just figure out that side of the ball consistently, there will be gradual improvement as long as the current team can stay healthy.
#4: The Andre Iguodala effect.
Andre Iguodala stood out in today’s game in a way that he usually does, not by tremendous stats, but through all-around impact. In a game where Miami’s defense was the biggest weakness, he fills a lot of those holes as soon as he enters. Obviously his defensive abilities and movement contributes to the team feeling much more comfortable, but his leadership and vocal abilities on that end seem to do the job as well. There seemed to be some clarity about specific lineups to utilize Iguodala, since the lineups with him, Butler, and Adebayo limit offensive spacing. But when he shares the floor with one of Butler or Adebayo, everything comes together slowly on that end. He wrecks havoc out on the perimeter on a regular basis, but also showed his ability to control the interior against bigger opponents, which is important for Miami to realize moving forward.
#5: Bam Adebayo making end of shot-clock jumpers with pure confidence.
Bam Adebayo had a few moments in today’s game where he got into the shooting motion in the mid-range area after noticing a low shot-clock. The reason this is important is because there’s a common theme with those exact jumpers. The ones he shoots without hesitation, lead to a much improved shooter. It seems as if this has been said for quite some time now, but he has that ability in his offensive package already. It just comes down to him finding the right times to utilize it, possibly with a full shot-clock. I’ve mentioned the importance of attacking the basket to draw fouls, as seen on Friday night, but as we continue to see him expanding his range, the timing of his attempts seem more essential than the efficiency.