Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson on some Heat-Knicks schematics, Playoff Jimmy, and more

From any Heat fan’s perspective following the Heat’s game 4 and 5 wins to close out the Bucks, you would usually get the same answer when thinking about the all time performances from Jimmy Butler.

When asking his teammates that same question 60 hours after it’s past by, you get the same exact response.

Simply, amazement.

When I rehashed his play to Caleb Martin, he looks at me and laughs, saying: “That was very new to me bro.”

“Obviously one of the best performances I’ve seen in the league in the four years I’ve been here,” he continued. “It was pretty dope to see.”

Duncan Robinson’s take was very similar, as he starts off saying: “That was crazy. That was 1 of 1. That was a special performance.”

Everybody’s minds are on New York, but everybody’s hearts are still in that Milwaukee series just a tad. It’s human nature, following a series of events that just simply are tough to just “wear off.”

To continue on the Butler subject, after his 56 point night in game 4, I asked him a rather simple question: “Is Playoff Jimmy a thing?”

It’s something he has denied in the past, and he flowed right back into the sentiment telling me, “It’s not a thing. It’s not. I just be hoopin.” The latter portion is definitely true as he was giving every Bucks defender buckets in that series, but it’s hard to eye down this production from him in April and May every year and say there isn’t a trend.

So, I talked to multiple teammates and brought up the “Playoff Butler” label that he’s gotten.

Robinson quickly cuts in with “If he says it’s not a thing, it’s not a thing. He’s a great player regardless of the time of year. When the competition is at its highest, I think that’s when he’s probably his best.”

That last part is the answer I’ve gotten from anybody I’ve brought it up to. Martin told me, “That’s just Jimmy. I don’t think it’s Playoff Jimmy, I think that’s just Jimmy, it’s who he is.”

“He’s a competitor and it just comes around that time of year with the highest level of competition, so it just comes out,” he adds.

All of this Butler propaganda leads us into the true story 24 hours before game 1 of the second round between the Heat and Knicks: we know Butler is playing at an incredible level right now, and so do the Knicks who are being directed by somebody Butler knows well, Tom Thibodeau.

To that point, Butler is not going to see anywhere close to the same amount of single coverage that he saw in the Milwaukee Bucks series. The Knicks are going to send doubles his way, so a major way to open things up is by the guy being helped off of makes them pay.

Many times this season, that guy is Caleb Martin.

“I get to come in knowing how I’ll get those open looks,” Martin said about reacting to his defender being a helper. “I just gotta be ready to knock them down.”

As for Robinson, he won’t be as lucky to be dipped off of on the perimeter. “He’ll (Jimmy) probably see different coverages throughout the course of it. They’ll mix up a few different things. For us, it’s just about being ready to make a play and be aggressive. Not just reactive, but proactive and try to make something happen.”

The other main element about this series for Martin is going to be the baseline roaming aspect. Why in this series compared to the first round? Well, while both series involve a heavy amount of drop coverage, it’s a total different scheme.

Robinson even detailed some of the obvious differences, “They guard it very differently. With the way Milwaukee was guarding, really not giving away a lot of air space, especially on like kick-outs and stuff like that. It’s different schemes, but you just gotta find a way to attack it.”

The Bucks use their dropping big to completely protect the rim with helpers on the side, while the Knicks run Mitchell Robinson much higher up to the level. When bringing up the schematics favoring Martin in that realm, he felt the same way by operating corner to corner.

“Definitely get on the baseline and those slides will be very important for spacing. Obviously for our rollers, for Bam to get open against those taller, longer guys. Mitchell Robinson is a guy we have to try and get him out of position a lot, and that’s going to do a lot with our drives and our slides.”

Out of all the conversations I had today on the schematic side of things, that was by far my biggest takeaway. The Heat are heavily focused on moving Mitchell Robinson into different spots to find offensive openings. The Knicks can do some intriguing things defensively, but Miami can bend certain things in a way that they just couldn’t against the Bucks.

With Milwaukee staying in that base and not adjusting, Miami walked in knowing what shots they were getting every night.

On that same Mitchell Robinson topic, they’re trying to move him in ways to force easier looks for Bam Adebayo. As I mentioned here, it’s about getting him behind the second line defense more often to get to the rim.

Now that Tyler Herro won’t be involved in this series again, it puts more pressure on some of the other guards to shine as pocket passers in that PnR or other Heat sets. And in my opinion, Duncan Robinson could be the best pocket passer on the squad.

I brought up the focus to get Bam to the rim in this series with that higher drop, which he responded, “It’s an important aspect for sure, just getting the ball back to Bam really regardless of what the coverage is. Just try to get it back to him so he can play-make and be aggressive, so definitely a component for sure.”

Just as the Heat are going to try to move Mitchell Robinson around defensively for openings, Jalen Brunson is going to try and shift things for the Heat defensively. I personally believe Butler starts on Brunson, but Martin is going to see a good amount of time on him as well when there’s not a switch.

What makes guarding Brunson different than some of the guards in the Bucks series?

“He’s very patient, very crafty,” Martin starts to note. “He knows what he wants to do, very poised, not very sped up at all. So that’s going to be the biggest thing: staying down on shot fakes and being disciplined.”

It’s going to be a series of on-court counters, and the Heat seem prepared. Let Jimmy Butler off his leash, see the reaction to him, then react to the reaction.

Should be a good one.

(Extra content)

One last thing away from the court, that Caleb Martin shot in the corner on Giannis Antetokounmpo right before an amazing celebration just keeps gaining attention for obvious reasons.

Is it going to make an appearance in the garden?

“It might come out again.”

Where did it come from?

“It just came to me in the moment.”

2 replies
  1. Sebastian Diaz
    Sebastian Diaz says:

    Great work Brady keep it up. What an article very well detailed and very informative for us Heat fans and fan pages.


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