The Miami Heat faced off against the Boston Celtics, in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch, and Miami fell short after the late efforts from Duncan Robinson. After trailing by 10 with less than 2 minutes to go, Miami tied the game with 10 seconds left, but a Payton Pritchard tip in gave them the lead with 0.2 seconds left. Here are five takeaways from the game…
#1: Precious Achiuwa continues to show promising flashes.
For starters, Precious Achiuwa had the only positive plus-minus at the half, +10, while Bam Adebayo was a -18 at the half. The parts that truly stood out for Precious were on the defensive side of the basketball, particularly guarding Jayson Tatum. One of the league’s top pure scorers taking a rookie one-on-one seems to be an obvious result, but not when Precious Achiuwa is lined up across from him. He had two promising possessions where he altered Tatum’s jump shot, which is not an easy thing to do. His constant movement on defense is another thing that stands out when watching him play, while his offensive game will continue to develop. His ability to be a threat on the roll is enough impact right now, since it’s a huge bonus for Goran Dragic.
#2: Miami’s top 3 players look to be more effective when their minutes are staggered.
One thing that stood out when I watched tonight’s game against Boston was the lineups that included Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo. Automatically you’d think that lineup would be most effective since it includes your three best players, but I don’t know if that’s exactly the case. They seem to struggle when they share the floor together at times offensively, but why is that exactly? It could possibly be due to the uncertainty of who should take assertiveness. Most times when they share the court together, you begin to see an immense amount of over-passing. So does that mean these three guys are a bit too unselfish? I believe so. It’s only the seventh game, so that will change as the season progresses, but once playoff time hits I think they all know who the main aggressor will be.
#3: Boston takes advantage of Miami’s interior defense.
Boston began the game going 5/6 from three, which may have you looking at Miami’s defensive issues being out on the perimeter. But that wasn’t the case exactly. The Celtics began to take advantage of the paint area, especially when they were using their two big lineups with Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson. Now, that may have had something to do with their priority changing to the perimeter talents of Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown getting hot, but allowing easy bucket after easy bucket around the basket does not help your chances against a team like Boston. The Heat have gone to a bunch of small lineups that have included Jimmy Butler or Andre Iguodala at the 4, and it doesn’t help when Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk have less rebounds at the half than Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. The lack of defensive stops in the paint have resulted in Miami being a bottom tier rebounding team.
#4: There’s one reason for Miami’s run at the end of the second quarter and early third quarter: Jimmy Butler.
Miami went on a little run to end the second quarter, once Jimmy Butler seemed to take control of the offense. Then they went on an even bigger run to start the third quarter, which was headlined by Duncan Robinson. Although Duncan was hitting some much needed shots, it was all set up by the gravity of Jimmy Butler. He was having one of those nights where he was going to take it into your chest on his way to the basket, and that ultimately means more opportunities on the perimeter. There was one common factor during this run, Jimmy Butler was on the floor the entire team. The impact of Jimmy should not be understated, since his presence alone makes his teammates better.
#5: Andre Iguodala’s impact against good teams proves to be a huge positive moving forward.
Andre Iguodala hit some much needed threes throughout the game tonight, which is all Miami needs from him. If he can hit the corner three at a good rate, that is huge for Miami’s bench unit offensively. Andre also did a good job of facilitating as well, setting up their shooters late in the game consistently. The games Iggy is needed most is when he is playing against a top team like Boston. High IQ veterans who can control the pace of the game are needed in these types of games. And more importantly, it provides clarity of what will be seen in a playoff setting. Andre is an important piece of this Heat team, mostly since the chemistry of that bench unit continues to be on display.