The Miami Heat played the Brooklyn Nets once again on Monday night in yet another thriller, but came away with the same result. Miami showed the heart that they continue to put on display on a nightly basis, but not having their closer Jimmy Butler causes this similar result. Anyway, here are five takeaways…
#1: Bam Adebayo picks up where he left off.
After Bam Adebayo’s 41 point night on Saturday night, it didn’t seem possible for him to continue that unique shooting display. And well, he came out to begin the game shooting that same exact mid-range jumper. I think it was pretty clear that it wasn’t a fluke performance, since it’s been obvious that it was in his offensive package all along. It just came down to him getting the green light, and he will have that moving forward for good. The reason these games have been so impressive is because he’s currently the number one option with guys missing, so he’s clearly at the top of the scouting report. And for him to overlook that and get to his spots makes this offensive showing even more promising.
#2: Three-Point shooting is not always the way.
Three point shooting has been Miami’s sweet spot lately, especially this past season, but there are times when they aren’t falling, and dribble penetration is necessary. Miami shot 21% from three in the first half, while shooting 67% on 2 point attempts. And yet, unnecessary triples continued to get shot up instead of attacking the basket. Of course with the current personnel, shooting seems to be the only way to victory. But the way to beat a poor defensive Brooklyn Nets team is to attack their weaknesses. Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic are probably the only two who can do that consistently, which is why the non-Goran and Bam minutes were some of the choppiest minutes in the game. The three point shot is essential when it’s dropping for Miami, but two point field goals must be the area they utilize more, which will happen when Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro return.
#3: Precious Achiuwa’s early offensive presence kept Miami going.
As I mentioned previously, when Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo are on the sideline at the same time, it’s hard for Miami to survive those minutes. Well, unless Precious Achiuwa steps up his offensive role. Andre Iguodala continued to breakdown Brooklyn’s defense in an early stretch, leading to 2 consecutive Precious dunks. Achiuwa giving Miami quality minutes gave Bam the ability to take a breather on the sideline, which was much needed in this type of game. The Precious Achiuwa minutes are clearly different than many are used to, and that’s because he isn’t currently sharing the floor with Bam. And with Miami shorthanded, Bam Adebayo’s minutes have taken an even bigger jump. Precious will get his normal role back once Miami gets their normal team back, but for now, adjustments were necessary and he’s done a pretty great job in that spot.
#4: KZ Okpala making his presence defensively seen.
KZ Okpala got the start tonight once again, and his defensive impact was definitely seen by many. For one, from an individual standpoint, being able to step right into a game without much NBA level playing time to guard three of the league’s most prolific scorers is impressive alone. But the part that truly stood out was his minutes next to Bam Adebayo. The confidence in one another to switch off of every single screen that came their way makes opposing players uncomfortable. But we know Bam is capable of wrecking havoc out on the perimeter, but seeing KZ Okpala step right up to the plate without hesitation is very promising for his future. His catch and shoot abilities have not looked too bad as well, but once he rounds out the rest of his offensive role with this Heat team, he will receive his regular and sustainable role.
#5: Andre Iguodala doing the small things to make an impact.
There’s always a certain part of the second half where veterans are needed to calm players down. And well, with no Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala stepped up as that guy once again. He utilized his passing abilities, rebounded the ball well, and most importantly, made necessary defensive plays that led to transition baskets. Andre will never be the guy that the team leans on for a needed bucket, but he will make the plays that give the team an opportunity at a bucket. As known from his past, he is just a winner, and with that comes a high IQ for the game of basketball. Watching him dissect a defense for easy baskets, or reading the game to find the hot hand at the moment is a very impressive skill.