The Miami Heat were coming off of a poor offensive performance on Friday night against Dallas, but came out tonight with a purpose against the Oklahoma City Thunder to get the win. Not only were there some pretty great performances all around, but also some clarity on this team moving forward. Here are my five takeaways….
#1: Jimmy Butler gets going out the gate.
Jimmy Butler ended up with 14 points at the end of the first half, since he came out with a purpose to get to the basket. And if it wasn’t a bucket in the paint for him, it was a pass to someone else around the goal for a basket. It has been discussed that the key to the Heat getting back to normal revolves around Jimmy. He was needed to set the tone, even in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he did just that. And as discussed, having another ball-handler and play-maker on the floor makes everybody’s life easier. As many were wanting, Jimmy Butler played like Jimmy Butler tonight, and it was necessary heading into a match-up with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
#2: Duncan Robinson’s shooting back to normal.
Duncan Robinson shot 1-8 from three last game against the Dallas Mavericks, and 0-5 in the first half. And well, Duncan ended up going 4-7 from three in the first half tonight. That has a lot to do with Jimmy playing like Jimmy as well, since as I’ve mentioned, Duncan’s offensive game revolves around the production of Butler. When Jimmy begins to penetrate, the defense begins to shift and crash the interior, which allows Duncan to get open on the outside off of Bam Adebayo screen assists. It’s not that Duncan shot incredibly tonight, he just shot like himself. It was needed tonight since getting in a rhythm after that last game was important, especially approaching a big game against Boston as I mentioned prior.
#3: Tyler Herro looks good all-around, but still has flashes of hesitance.
When watching Tyler play tonight, it’s just clear that scoring isn’t his number one priority as it has been in the past. There were plenty of times that he beat his defender, but passed out to the corner instead of getting the ball up. There were also times that he made that extra pass, when the better shot would’ve been the opportunity that he got. Now, this definitely isn’t a huge knock against him tonight, since he played pretty well, it’s just something to look out for moving forward. He continued to look good as a passer, which looks even better when he shared the court with Jimmy Butler or Goran Dragic. And his rebounding abilities were on display as well, which is needed since Miami is last in the league in rebounds. Those extra efforts can make the difference to win you a basketball game.
#4: Miami finds a comfortable 9 man rotation.
Kelly Olynyk got inserted into the starting lineup tonight, which was the 6th different starting lineup in 6 games. But after getting a look at the rotation, it seems as if it may be here to stay. For one, I’ve been a proponent of keeping both Avery Bradley and Andre Iguodala on the bench, since they cause defensive havoc on the perimeter when they share the floor together. Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa also have a great offensive connection that they don’t want to mix up, which is why they’ve been labeled as the core four bench unit. Now, the fifth starter has been in question, but Kelly Olynyk makes the most sense. He fits well with Bam Adebayo, and it allows Bam to slide to the power forward position. Also Kelly spaces the floor perfectly for Bam and Jimmy to penetrate, which means a much more functional offense. It seems like this 9 man rotation will be one that will be seen on a nightly basis.
#5: Kelly Olynyk became an offensive spark once again.
Although I discussed Kelly Olynyk a bit previously moving forward in the rotation, I couldn’t allow his overall performance tonight to get overlooked. He has been looked at as an offensive spark for this team over the years, since he is very capable of putting on a shooting display that he put on tonight. But although you get nights like this from him, some not so good ones come with it. And that’s a risk this team will take, since adding size to this team was essential individually, but having that in a guy who can knock down 6 threes is even better. Many have been talking about that 5th starter not being on the roster, but I believe he might be. Well, at least for now. Kelly gives this team exactly what they need, especially since he seems to be the perfect fit next to Bam Adebayo.