The Miami Heat escaped yet another rough offensive night against the Orlando Magic, expanding their win streak to four in a row. Another all-around Jimmy Butler performance led to this outcome, after a 29 point night, sealing it with a steal and a layup with 4 seconds left. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Miami’s peak defensive potential on display throughout.
If there’s been any wonder lately how Miami has stayed at that number one spot in defensive rating, this Heat game solidified that. Miami has been exceptionally good at hitting passing lanes, rotating close to perfectly, and altering between different defensive schemes. By that I mean Erik Spoelstra’s continued adjustments throughout a game, rotating between man to man, 2-3 zone, and a 2-2-1 full court press. Obviously it’s a soft press since Tyler Herro was heading it with Andre Iguodala, but it still forces the opposing offense to play at a speed that they are not used to. Kelly Olynyk must be mentioned in this defensive discussion as well, since he’s made major leaps with lateral quickness, rim protection for spurts, and mostly denying post entry passes, which is a huge improvement for this team’s current success.
#2: The Kelly Olynyk-Jimmy Butler offensive duo being schemed by Coach Spoelstra.
As I’ve discussed endlessly since Bam Adebayo went out, Kelly Olynyk has seen a decent sized change in his offensive role. The offense is running through him for a lot of the game, which means they’re handing him the keys as a primary play-maker. This has led to Coach Spo running many more sets for these two together, including off-ball screens for Butler leading to lobs, as well as Butler finding Olynyk in alternate spots on the floor. The reason this is so intriguing is because Adebayo can be utilized in a different way when he returns as well, which can alter Miami’s major offensive issues. If this can force Adebayo into a slightly larger scoring role, instead of worrying about setting others up, it may be the one piece to put this whole puzzle together.
#3: A longer leash for KZ Okpala leading to a positive outcome.
While I’m discussing defense a bit, it seems necessary to throw KZ Okpala into the discussion. His defensive attributes have never been questioned, but it’s actually been about over using them at times leading to foul trouble and defensive breakdowns. But well, that wasn’t the case today, since he was in the right spots throughout the game consistently. The offense is the part that should be discussed though, since there were even more flashes in tonight’s first half. As much as made threes may excite some, the off the dribble attack is what will truly keep him in the rotation for good. That slight hesitance still seems to be holding him back a bit, but once that is overcome completely, that full potential will be reached.
#4: Jimmy Butler steps up in the third quarter, trying to counter Nikola Vucevic’s takeover.
Nikola Vucevic was not only a main topic for the portion of the night, but mainly in the third quarter. He couldn’t miss from deep during this stretch, expanding the Magic’s lead little by little. And since Miami’s offense just can’t get into any type of flow for a good portion of the game, it was time for Jimmy Butler to step up in that moment like usual. Three point shooting clearly wasn’t the strength of the night for Miami, which led to constant penetration from Butler to put in his work around the rim. It’s pretty obvious that he can choose his moments to score at will when he wants, but the issue is that others must balance that timely takeover with scoring of their own. And too many droughts seem to come up throughout in their half-court offense, mainly when Butler is off the floor.
#5: Tyler Herro: Reverting back a bit, showcasing some indecisiveness early.
Tyler Herro must be discussed in general following this game, since he hasn’t done much lately to mention. But now, he’s showcasing previous habits, which is the flipping switch between positive flashes and unnecessary decisions. Although the numbers may not look bad when evaluating the box score, he had moments throughout that aren’t explained through a stat-sheet. There are too many instances with indecisive movements or the tough choice between shooting or passing. Although it seemed as if he may have been past that, it seems like he’s reverting back slightly. Now, that’s not a hard thing to touch up, since he just needs that natural Herro confidence once again, where he doesn’t worry about that previous miss or that last turnover. Duncan Robinson has made that adjustment, and it’s made the difference. But as seen late in the game tonight, Herro stepped up when needed to not only boost this team, but boost his self confidence.