The Miami Heat faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers in a game where Miami was missing half of their team, but fell short in overtime. They were missing Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, among others but still showed plenty of heart throughout this game. Some late game Tyler Herro heroics weren’t enough, but still a great sign moving forward. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game…
#1: Well, Duncan Robinson was Duncan Robinson, but showed flashes of growth.
Coming into this game, it was obvious that the coaching staff can get a look at a lot of these players from a different perspective. The main one being Duncan Robinson, since he always thrives when he shares the floor with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Tonight, he had to figure things out on his own, and he did. He hit 5 first half threes, after shooting poorly from deep to begin the first quarter. And during that stretch of struggle, his play-making abilities began to get showcased. He was forced to put the ball on the floor and drive, which led to him throwing some nice bounce passes to the cutter or cross court skip passes to the opposite corner. We know exactly what Duncan can do from the perspective of shooting, but it’s great to see flashes in the other parts of his offensive game.
#2: Gabe Vincent gets his opportunity, and takes advantage of it.
Gabe Vincent began to get into a flow offensively early in the game, and it wasn’t only from the three point line. Although he looked good from beyond the arc, which many know he is capable of, his ability to attack the basket stood out. Miami didn’t have many players that are primary attackers, although Tyler Herro looks to be at times, which led to Gabe driving and using his craftiness around the rim. He’s going to be an interesting name moving forward, since he could be a player that can help this team now. Since Kendrick Nunn hasn’t made many contributions as of late, Gabe is a guy that can slide in front of him awaiting an opening in the rotation. He got an opportunity and made the most of it, which was definitely noticed by the Heat’s coaching staff.
#3: Precious Achiuwa steps up into new role and thrives.
It’s not normal for a rookie in his ninth NBA game to step into the starting center position to guard the best center in the NBA, Joel Embiid. Precious looked good in the match-up with Joel in the first half, defending him well throughout, as well as showcasing some nice offensive moves. One of the biggest highlights from the game was when Precious took Embiid off the dribble for a wide open dunk. Joel Embiid began to look like Joel Embiid in the third quarter, absolutely taking over. When he began to do this, it was when Chris Silva was on the floor matched-up with him, which forced Coach Spo to send Precious right back in. It was a very unique circumstance that the game was being played, and it was a good thing that rookie Precious Achiuwa was a part of it.
#4: Kelly Olynyk third quarter, Tyler Herro fourth quarter.
As I mentioned before, Joel Embiid had it going throughout the third quarter. And when it looked as if Miami would be put away then, Kelly Olynyk kept them in it. Miami’s offense began to grow stagnant, and Kelly hit two straight threes when they were needed most. That is what Kelly Olynyk does. Tyler Herro, on the other hand, took over in the fourth quarter which is no surprise. When it looked like the game got out of reach once again, Tyler Herro put on a scoring clinic from all three levels to give Miami a comfortable lead. It is promising to see that even when Miami is without their three best players, they still have plenty of guys capable of stepping up in crunch time.
#5: This game will be looked back on down the line, as the moment players took a leap.
Although this game may not seem to hold much value, it does in the big picture. This game allowed many of Miami’s players to get outside of their comfort zone, which it’s important for players to go through stretches that are uncomfortable. Duncan Robinson being forced to drive and play-make was one that I discussed before, since I believe it’s something we see more of moving forward. Precious Achiuwa continued to put the ball on the floor, which is something he hasn’t done much of up to this point. And of course Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who didn’t necessarily take a leap, but took their initial step forward. We may see certain players that I mentioned have an expanded offensive package from this unique NBA game that was played tonight.