5 Takeways from Heat’s Late Loss to Portland

The Miami Heat fell late to the Portland Trail Blazers, after a foul was called with 1 second left to put Damian Lillard on the line. Although it was a tough result, Miami showed incredible grit with only 9 available players. So, here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: No Jimmy Butler leads to early Bam Adebayo aggression.

In a game that Miami was without their star Jimmy Butler and newcomer Victor Oladipo, Bam Adebayo was clearly going to be needed. Not only as the primary play-maker and focal point of the offense, but also as the needed scorer. And well, that’s exactly what he was early on, getting to those 10 foot push shots that he loves, while also competing on the defensive end each and every play. An efficient 15 point first half is one thing in a short term view, but it’s quite interesting to dive into it in the big picture. As much as many may think this will lead to even less Adebayo scoring with Oladipo joining, I believe it’ll be just the opposite. It eliminates teams sending constant doubles when Adebayo receives the ball in the nucleus of the offense, which could lead to an even more ideal situation for him.

#2: Post trade deadline Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson performances.

Now, before discussing Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson early on in the game tonight, maybe it’s important to address a primary reason. It’s not an overstatement to mention trade rumors getting into the heads of certain players, and it’s no surprise that it played a role in the recent struggles. Robinson came out immediately with an apparent confidence in his jumper, while Herro began to heat up as the game progressed. He kept Miami going when Adebayo exited which was key due to the many players Miami were without. Although many will harp on the three-point shooting being the only change for Herro tonight, I believe it had more to do with the on-ball situations. He attacked consistently throughout which led to easy buckets, and that’s the area that will fully elevate his game over this next stretch of games. And well, a Lillard range three pointer in the fourth quarter against Damian Lillard pretty much solidified the point about relief occurring after trade rumors, leading to Herro’s comfort zone of straight confidence.

#3: Oladipo may have been most useful on the defensive end tonight.

Not to link everything from tonight’s game to Miami’s newest trade acquisition, but CJ McCollum’s scoring explosion made that come to mind immediately. Although the Heat’s interchanging defensive schemes may hide some of Miami’s weaker defenders at times, it has still been clear that point of attack defense needs a boost. McCollum’s 29 first half points shouldn’t be completely pointed to Miami’s guards, since they actually contested well on many possessions, but when it’s his night, there’s basically no way to slow him down. This is where Victor Oladipo comes into play though in the big picture, since Butler is constantly the guy who is forced to guard opposing team’s best guard on a nightly basis. Other than the scoring boost, it’s a great amount of weight off Butler’s shoulders through the different defensive match-ups.

#4: Trevor Ariza looking quite impressive in all aspects of the game.

I think there is general confidence that Trevor Ariza can become an ideal plug and play guy at the 4, mostly as a a catch and shoot threat. But in only his fourth game with the Miami Heat, he looked to show other areas of his offensive package, headlined by an ability to put the ball on the deck and get to the basket. He has some length to him and seems to have a great ability to utilize that length when slashing down the baseline. Now, the more important aspect is the element he brings moving forward, which is the perfect balance at the wing spot for Andre Iguodala. This gives Erik Spoelstra some options to decide between a versatile offensive player who can defend and an elite defender who can facilitate offense. Either way, the Ariza acquisition looks to have an even bigger impact than originally expected.

#5: Oh, the Heat will insert Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, and Goran Dragic into this.

A major takeaway from this game, other than individual boosts from needed players, is the heart they showed with only nine available players. Not only through the trade deadline being over, but this game being a scheduled loss basically propels this team to play freely. But other than that being noted, a clear takeaway is that Butler and Oladipo will be awaiting to be inserted into this starting lineup, while Dragic can be thrown into that scrappy bench group. And that’s not even mentioning Nemanja Bjelica and a possible LaMarcus Aldridge pick-up. The reason this is being noted is to highlight the ceiling of this team, which is far from being seen, but much higher than many may expect.

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