A Breakdown of Miami’s Fourth Quarter Collapse

The Miami Heat had a tough loss on Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets, after they blew a 10 point lead with 3 minutes left. The reason for this late-game collapse had mostly to do with the defensive end, but there were also some offensive issues that led to relying on their less average defenders.

Here’s a look into what happened under three minutes in the fourth…

– Searching for match-ups means more on Bam Adebayo’s plate

When mentioning defensive issues, this was the start of it. Charlotte’s offensively sounded guards began to find favorable match-ups late in the fourth, which led to them blowing by to get to the rim. This consequently means Bam Adebayo is looked toward to step up and stop penetration, but as he was stuck behind Cody Zeller here, it led to a foul call. These are the moments of the game that give a perspective of the many things Bam has to deal with on that end of the floor every night. The next defensive possession after this, Malik Monk took Tyler Herro off the dribble, leading to a leaning mid-range shot in front of the rim. And since shots weren’t falling for Miami offensively, it made defensive possessions even harder.

– Never get out of rhythm

This play was not only a big swing for Tyler Herro, but also the rest of the team. Tyler got the ball in the corner for a wide open triple, and took an unnecessary gather dribble, which took him out of his rhythm leading to a miss. There are many reasons why players should never put the ball on the floor instead of shooting the ball in rhythm. For one, that one dribble is the most unorthodox move for a player, since it’s never used in game. It’s either catch and shoot, or dribbling to shoot in motion. Dribbling once into a shot is not something Tyler or anybody gets many reps of on a daily basis. This swung the shooting confidence for Tyler Herro moving forward, and could’ve extended their lead to nine points.

– Miami misses easy ones, Charlotte makes difficult ones

This was the theme of this Heat-Hornets game late in the fourth quarter, Miami missing an easy shot while Charlotte knocks down a very difficult shot. Defensively on this possession, there’s nothing much you can do since having one of your top defenders, Andre Iguodala, on Devonte Graham at the top of the key is exactly what they wanted. The missed bunny on the offensive end though is the type of shot that is needed to extend the lead at this point. This was the following possession after the Herro missed three, since there was a foul called down low on his missed shot. Miami had two easy opportunities to put themselves in a good position, but couldn’t do it, which led to them relying heavy on the defensive end and that is not ideal with current personnel.

– Late-game indecisiveness leads to empty possessions

This play may not look like anything special since Jimmy Butler made the right read to give it to the open Andre Iguodala, but it’s much more than that. There are teams late in games that go immediately into iso ball, and there are others who continue their normal offense with ball movement. Miami doesn’t seem to know their exact identity at this point of the game, since Jimmy Butler looks to go the isolation route after dribbling for 21 of the 24 second shot clock. But he then does exactly what the defense wanted him to do, which was kicking out to Andre Iguodala on a catch and shoot three. The issue is not that he passed the ball to an open Iggy who was hitting them all night, but instead that these types of possessions prove the uncertainty of Miami as a team late in games.

– A necessary stops needs necessary execution

Now this is the play that truly stood out when discussing defensive execution. Charlotte drew this play up in the timeout, which it was clear it was going to the scorching hot Malik Monk. Cody Zeller ran a dribble hand-off in the exact part of the court Miami wanted them to. Two of Miami’s most trusted defenders are guarding it, Andre Iguodala and Bam Adebayo, but as Iggy gets screened on the end-around, Bam was needed to step up and cut him off. They’re looking for the triple as they trail by 3 with 20 seconds left. And as mentioned, if Bam cut him off, Monk would’ve had to dump it off to Cody Zeller, which is exactly what you want at that point of the game. Small defensive issues like this led to a Miami loss, especially since Miami’s offense at this point could not be relied on either.

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