The Miami Heat dominated the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, which was pretty promising as they get closer and closer to the post-season. An interesting game consisting of a couple scuffles, and of course one being Udonis Haslem, was the storyline of the night. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Udonis Haslem. That’s it. That’s the takeaway.
Well, we can add another all time Udonis Haslem moment to the catalogs. He was going to need to see the court this season if he wanted it to count, and Coach Erik Spoelstra said he would make it happen. Now, nobody expeced that insertion to occur in the first quarter, but it did. A few minutes prior he was the mediator after a back and forth between Trevor Ariza and Joel Embiid, but then he was the focal point. After some positive minutes, including finger-rolls, baseline jumpers, and charges, he got into it with Dwight Howard. He got ejected after telling him he would “punch him in his f****n mouth,” which was as much of a UD sequence as we will ever see. This is just a friendly reminder that even though he is the vocal guy and leader on the bench, he can be quite the source of energy no matter the situation.
#2: The Philly match-up brings out a different Jimmy Butler.
We all know the history of Jimmy Butler and Philadelphia, but not many expected him to knock down 3 triples in the first half. That stat alone can tell you the level that Butler was playing at, since he doesn’t even attempt threes unless it’s a game of high magnitude. Another interesting element to this game was that if somebody told me two Heat players would get into scuffles, I would think Butler would be one of them. But his calm demeanor and pure on-court dominance was the headliner tonight, which just foreshadows the way that the 76ers feel about this potential playoff match-up. There are plenty of reasons that they may not love the match-up, but it’s headlined that not many teams want to see Butler in a playoff series, especially when there’s this type of history and new things brewing.
#3: Why does Tyler Herro love catching fire against this team? I don’t know.
There were some fun story-lines throughout this game, but an odd one is that Tyler Herro silently dominates Philadelphia. Game-winning pull-up jumpers, season high scoring with 8 available players, and now an off the bench explosion. He’s finally beginning to hit his strides, and it’s happening at the perfect time. His level of efficiency this season should not be overstated, especially from deep. Four for five from the three-point line at the half doesn’t even fully explain the ways that he was scoring, since he’s actually doing it in a variety of ways. Pull-up triples are falling, catch and shoot threes are falling, and he’s even generating some looks on his own. Once again, like I’ve reiterated time and time again, this version of Herro makes this Heat team a totally different team come playoff time.
#4: Bam Adebayo’s jumper becoming an offensive staple.
Bam Adebayo’s mid-range jumper has been an interesting discussion this season. A major point of emphasis has been that he is at his best when he’s putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. Jimmy Butler even had the post-game press conference where he said he needs to play some “bully ball” and get to his strengths. The thing is that his jumper is becoming one of his strengths. He looked like he was at shoot-around tonight, specifically in the third quarter, since he was given the space and took advantage of it. Another interesting element is that he’s oddly good at knocking down jumpers with the shot clock expiring, but the thing is that it’s not very odd. The reason for the efficiency in that time slot is that he fires without thinking, and doesn’t have any second thoughts about making the pass out. If he embodies that mindset in a full shot clock, it changes a lot of things for his offensive game.
#5: A potential second round match-up, and Miami would love it.
The current mindset for Miami is to fall into the bracket of the 4/5 match-up, and it seems they’re on their way to that mark. The thing about that bracket is that they’d see the 1st seed in the second round, which looks to be the Philadelphia 76ers. For one, Miami would love that match-up. They like energy in that type of series, and as discussed earlier, the Jimmy Butler effect plays a big role. Secondly, who doesn’t want to watch 7 games of this? Maybe not as many UD minutes in that series, but the same exact amount of physicality. The Heat have had their ups and downs this season in terms of offensive success and defensive success, and they’re looking very similar to the way they played last season. This team is currently scoring in a consistent fashion that is needed in a playoff setting, which changes everything as they head into their final two games this weekend.