A Breakdown of Miami’s Final Possession Troubles

The Miami Heat fell short against the Memphis Grizzlies last night, after Ja Morant went coast to coast for a layup to go up 2 with 1 second left. Now, Miami clearly didn’t put themselves in the best spot to win after an awful offensive performance, but they still had an opportunity to send it to Overtime with one final stop after the game-tying free throw.

So, let’s take a look at this defensive breakdown that occurred on this final possession…

Now, to start this off, let’s look at the set-up and spacing on this offensive play for Memphis. The most important part is the placing of Brandon Clarke, since he’s being guarded by Bam Adebayo, which he stands in-between half-court and the three-point line without setting a screen.

This eliminates any type of switch or readjustment on the defensive end to regather a certain angle of the cut-off.

The next element of this occurs at half-court with Ja Morant, since Butler makes a minor mistake. Instead of sinking in slowly against a speedy Morant, he moves up for a slight cut-off against him, leading to that advantage once he passes mid-court.

And well, this leads us to the biggest breakdown on this possession. Butler no longer has the correct angle in front of Morant, which means the cut-off is majorly needed from Duncan Robinson, and Butler seems to expect this to occur.

Robinson was in position to stop the ball, but he flew out to the wing to eliminate the pass as soon as Morant got inside the arc. An interesting element to that, other than Robinson just making the wrong read, is a possible charge opportunity even if Morant made that pass. He wouldn’t have been able to stop his momentum if he swung the ball, which would’ve been a huge change for Miami.

It’s always important to force the ball-handler to make that extra pass at this point in a game, and live with the result of the jumper instead of the layup. But once again, this could be an important learning moment for this team, especially since they’ve found themselves on the winning side of things in most of these games that have gone down to the wire.

The final inbound play with one second to go has been a main topic from this game for obvious reasons. Adebayo is the trusted in-bounder on this play, which as Coach Erik Spoelstra said, he trusts “10 out of 10 times.”

For starters, the drawn up play here was actually something that can be highly effective. Robinson runs up to the top of the key to clear out, while Dragic sets the back-screen for Butler, which leads to the primary option of a Butler lob pass.

Although that’s the type of play that has a chance of working, Kyle Anderson reads it perfectly, sliding down to cut-off the alley-oop. The main issue here though is exactly how Adebayo described it post-game, which was a “predetermined decision” to make the pass to Butler.


To that point, go back and take a look at Adebayo’s eyes on the play. He’s looking and turned towards the rim the entire time, which most likely had an impact on Anderson’s read of the play.

This game was a clear representation of the second night of a back to back, due to late-game miscues and offensive issues throughout. But it’s still important to discuss these types of moments, since it’ll allow the team to look back at it down the line as an area of growth.

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