The Miami Heat fell short to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, after a Ja Morant layup to take the lead with 1 second left on the clock. Miami’s offensive issues throughout were clear, which was why it was odd that they even found themselves in this game late. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Max Strus gives Miami a first half push.
Well, I didn’t really expect Max Strus to be the first takeaway on this article tonight but here we are. One thing that must be noted is the level of difficulty to be unexpectedly thrown into the fire time and time again, and producing immediately. This has a lot to do with the team harping on guys always staying ready, since you never know when your name will be called. Although his first three-point shot of the night dropped, it was actually the off-ball cutting that was a main source of offense. Obviously that’s just a part of Miami’s offensive scheme, which occurs even more once the defense respected that first three-point make, but it’s still impressive to see him reading a defense with his limited minutes at the NBA level.
#2: The offensive need for an off the dribble scorer with bench unit.
When Max Strus is the highlight of the bench unit early, it’s clear Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic aren’t capitalizing on their scoring role. Forget their usual pick and roll mid-ranges or catch and shoot threes, they were just clearly missing a scoring guard to get a bucket off the dribble, especially during those non-Butler stretches. Neither of them are incredible attacking threats, since they usually control with their jumper early, but that was a main reason offensive issues were fluid throughout. While Dragic may look a step too slow at times as a primary scoring option, the eyes immediately turn toward Herro, who majorly needs to take that initiative during those moments, which also comes down to reading the situation.
#3: A noticed change in Duncan Robinson’s usual offensive abilities.
Duncan Robinson got hot early in the first quarter, then cooled off a bit the remainder of the half. But instead of evaluating makes and misses, the part before the actual jumper is more important for Robinson than anything. He’s used to immediately firing when coming off a DHO or drive and kick, but they’ve had to go away from that a bit more due to the way defenses have been guarding him. This leads us to the noticed change, which is a sense of patience when receiving the ball. The scouting report on Robinson never really includes that slight hesitance before the jumper, which can pause the defender as he gets into his shooting motion. Another aspect is the pick and roll sets he has been forced to utilize a bit more, since it’s an action he can find shots that appear to be open a bit more often. Once some additions are made to his offensive game, then shots actually dropping won’t ever be the part being observed.
#4: A rough third quarter with Jimmy Butler out there alone.
More offensive issues occurred in the third quarter for Miami, which looked even worse than earlier. Miami scored 16 points in the quarter, while Jimmy Butler scored 10 of them. He brought the needed intensity through the game, yelling after every single bucket or foul that he got. The jumper looked good for Butler throughout, which led to him getting to the mid-range in the third. And as I mentioned his supporting cast not able to get into a flow, he went away from drive and kicks, and just utilized drives. And well, most of those end up in a layup or two free throws due to his aggression and strength. This once again circles back to that need for an on-ball offensive threat, which although the newest member of the Heat won’t be able to alter completely, there are some things he can possibly touch up which I’ll discuss next.
#5: The area Trevor Ariza could possibly fix for Miami.
To reiterate the lack of penetration when Butler isn’t on the floor, there’s a chance Trevor Ariza could fix that a bit. Although he’s mostly known as a 3 and D guy, he can bring the element of attack if he’s fully healthy. Obviously we can’t truly evaluate him until he actually plays some games with this team after missing a year, but that ability is the one thing that Andre Iguodala doesn’t currently have. Iguodala usually finds himself in the corner, leading into off-ball screens which is highly effective, but when he’s sharing the floor with Dragic, Herro, and Robinson, they need that guy who can drive to the basket consistently. Once again, there’s a very good possibility Ariza won’t be able to do that consistently, but the level of athleticism that is remembered can be utilized.