The Miami Heat faced the hottest team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz, on Saturday night and came away with a loss. That snapped their four game winning streak, since Miami’s stagnant offense allowed Utah to pull away fairly easily. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game…
#1: Miami’s three point defense was needed against Utah, and came out clicking.
The Utah Jazz are a very dangerous three point shooting team, mostly since they have four shooters on the court at all times. It was needed for Miami to make that part of their defense a priority, and well, it looked like they did. The Jazz were 3/21 from beyond the arc in the first half, and that wasn’t all a product of just missing shots. The Heat were closing out very well on shooters, even some of their weaker defenders. Kendrick Nunn has been making some strides in that area, while also hitting passing lanes at a much higher rate. It’s important to see Miami’s capability to tighten up in a certain area of weakness when they make it a priority, but there’s just not one particular area.
#2: Just missing offensive consistency.
As much as we can look at certain things from this game, it’s important to look at Miami’s early offensive struggles. Instead of evaluating exactly what went wrong, it’s necessary to look at it big picture. They are just clearly missing a level of consistency on that side of the floor. Even with players being in and out of the lineup, it’s an issue to go through stretches where not only shots aren’t falling, but also when sets aren’t clicking. And when this is occurring in spurts offensively, it’s just not ideal to turn the ball over at a high rate to give easy buckets to the opposing team. This probably begins with Jimmy Butler being on and off the floor, which will be discussed next.
#3: Coach Spoelstra making rotation adjustments.
Erik Spoelstra has made a few essential rotation changes lately with the constant injury report changes, but the one with Goran Dragic out has been essential. As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, the non-Butler minutes are sustainable when Dragic plays, since he can also calm an offense down to take charge. But without Dragic, Spo has had to change some things up a bit. He’s began to stagger Butler and Adebayo’s minutes throughout, so Miami can have a trusted player to work the offense throughout. And since Precious Achiuwa has struggled lately with offensive limitations, Coach Spo doesn’t have many other options. Another small rotation change has been the Max Strus substitution for Duncan Robinson throughout, so Miami can try and sustain that shooting gravity the entire night. If there’s ever a time to discuss coaching adjustments, it’s this season with the constant twists and turns with Covid protocols.
#4: Tyler Herro returns, but not enough with Goran Dragic still out.
Discussing Miami’s offense seems to be the hot topic in this tough showing on that side of the ball, but there are positive flashes at times, which points back to that consistency. Tyler Herro returned after missing the last game due to a false positive, and showcased that scoring ability that the Heat have missed. He can bring some of it, but he’s missing his veteran co-pilot with that unit to completely control the offense. Now, this isn’t to say Goran Dragic changes everything for Miami’s offensive struggles moving forward, but it does shift some things other than added scoring. It alters the role of Herro in a positive manner, while Butler can have his backbone on a night that he struggled. On a night where offensive pacing was an issue, Dragic would’ve been useful to calm the team back down, per usual.
#5: It can’t always be waiting for Jimmy Butler to create offense.
Although I discussed offensive consistency previously, it’s important to evaluate the offense itself. The overall theme is that Jimmy Butler can’t always be the offensive savior. The obvious evaluation is just making shots that are open, but it’s much more than that. When shots aren’t falling on this team, offense always becomes stagnant with players standing around waiting for that to change. And the only time it seems to even remotely change is when Butler begins to charge the basket to kick out for continued open looks. Adebayo had a good amount of good looks in the mid-range area throughout, but as mentioned before, they weren’t dropping. Tyler Herro had some nice moments in the pick and roll, while finding his spots on pull-up mid-range shots, but that just isn’t enough. Miami’s offense can’t just be a product of made jumpers.