A Breakdown of the Miami Heat’s Late-Game Offense

The Miami Heat dropped yet another game on Wednesday night, this time to the Washington Wizards. One of the biggest issues that stood out was late-game offense, since spacing, sets, or even lineups looked to be problematic.

Take a look at this deep dive into the Miami Heat’s late fourth quarter issues from Wednesday night…

– Crunch time bucket leads to disappearing ball movement

As seen here, the game is tied with just under 3 minutes to play. This is usually the time where Miami’s offense begins to shift a bit for no apparent reason, although it shifted earlier than usual against the Wizards yesterday. There are a couple things to takeaway from this possession. For one, Goran Dragic dribbling around down the stretch is not what Miami wants to take place, but it seemed as if it was necessary. While Miami’s off ball movement became stagnant late in the game, Goran took it upon himself, per usual, to try and make a play to bail Miami out. And although he finds a way to do it a lot of the time, it didn’t occur last night. Identity is something that should continue to be discussed, since offense changing late in games means the offense does not have a clear identity.

– Sloppy possession down the stretch against the league’s worst defense

To be completely honest, this might be the worst offensive possession I’ve ever seen. For starters, Tyler Herro taking the three to begin the possession is a classic Tyler Herro shot, but highly unnecessary. He’s being guarded by a very poor defender in Davis Bertans, and had the opportunity to attack the basket 2 on 1 with a rolling Bam Adebayo. Then Tyler gets the ball in the corner to drive baseline, and makes the right read to find the open Goran Dragic, but passes it over his head. This leads to more chaos, since Kelly Olynyk holds on to the ball while shifting his feet a bit. Although you don’t want Kelly putting the ball on the deck, he acted as if he was trapped when he could have kept the dribble alive to get a man open. Somehow this possession ended up in a foul call, which was ruled not in the shooting motion, granting Miami another chance at a score, which is shown next.


– No offense generated leads to unnecessary shot attempts late in shot clock

The following possession with a short shot clock, Miami had another chance to tie this game up. Jimmy attacks the basket on the crowded side of the floor, and forces a pass to a back-peddling Kelly Olynyk who fumbles it a bit. He makes the pass back out to the perimeter, and the possession ends up with a Jimmy Butler three at the end of the shot clock. It doesn’t matter what team you’re playing in this league, you just don’t win games when the offensive execution in a tight game looks like this. Also, take a look at the beginning of this play. Not only does Jimmy Butler not look at the basket and stare at Kelly Olynyk the entire time. But more importantly, he had a rolling Bam on the open side of the floor, who could have thrown it down if Jimmy threw the lob pass. As mentioned previously, the team’s best players need to be the best players down the stretch, and Miami leaning on other guys instead ultimately hurt them once again.

– Need a bucket should mean need Jimmy Butler

To continue my previous statement, a team’s best player must be the guy closing out a game for you, especially when his name is Jimmy Butler. But as seen here, Miami is down one with 20 seconds remaining, and Jimmy Butler does not even touch the ball. This doesn’t mean that others are taking shots that they shouldn’t be taking. It actually means that Jimmy needs to be the voice that he always is to say “give me the ball.” On this play, he watched the possession play out without even calling for the ball, and as I just said, that’s an issue. This big time possession began with a Bam Adebayo dribble hand-off to Kelly Olynyk. And if you take a closer look, the interior is wide open to begin the play. Bam had a clear opportunity to take Alex Len one-on-one to the basket, which he has shown to be one of his biggest strengths. But ultimately, that didn’t occur and it ended in yet another empty possession.

– Final shot of regulation showcases a few issues

Now, there are a couple elements to this final possession of regulation. For starters, not only is the best shooter on the team not on the floor, but one of the best shooters in the league. Even if there is a higher comfort level to run this exact offensive set to Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson must be on the floor. Kelly Olynyk standing in the corner on this possession just showcases my point even more. For one, having the option to pass it in to Duncan Robinson for a turnaround catch and shoot three is always great to have. But more importantly, his gravity is something that is constantly discussed, and it could have created increased opportunities for others with the defense watching Duncan closely. Either way, the entire Washington defense knew what was coming when Tyler Herro was the in-bounder, leading to a tough shot and a tough loss.

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