The Miami Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the pre-season tonight in quite a fashion. No Jimmy Butler, no problem. The rotational guys looked as effective as ever, showing a theme that’s super essential: it isn’t one guy, it’s everybody. If this Miami “team” becomes a problem, then wins will closely follow.
Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game. (And more importantly, the first of many for the season ahead)
#1: Kyle Lowry doing Kyle Lowry things, rubbing off on teammates immediately.
Well, Kyle Lowry found himself in the starting lineup for the first time in a Miami Heat uniform on Monday night, kicking off the preseason. We know what Lowry brings on a nightly basis: high level passing, off-ball talents, and strong point of attack defense. But rubbing off on teammates is the thing I noticed most. After Friday’s scrimmage, a primary takeaway of mine was that Lowry-Herro-Adebayo minutes would be fast, and clearly, they were just that. Finding ways to get those young talents out on the break was crucial, and we saw it already. It’s not just about darting down the open floor, but being set up in the open floor. And yet, QB1 Lowry will hit you in your spots.
#2: Third year Tyler Herro is in full effect.
Tyler Herro has been putting in the work all off-season, ready to attack his third season head first. So, he decided not to waste any time by scoring 20 points in the first half, going 8 of 11 from the field. The efficiency stuff is obviously important, but the speed in which he’s going about it is even more important. Starting the game with 2 floaters and a lob pass to Bam Adebayo pretty much told you he’s much more controlled in the pick and roll. He’s had that floater and lob pass in his bag for some time, but the indecisiveness when to use each one wasn’t the case tonight. Herro’s playing with a purpose, he’s playing in a simplified role, and simply, he’s getting buckets.
#3: Bam Adebayo with some more ball-handling duties.
Of course, without Jimmy Butler playing, things look a bit different, but some stuff is bigger than who is in or out of the lineup. The ball-handling duties are going to be spread between Lowry, Herro, Butler, and the young centerpiece, Bam Adebayo. Don’t worry, Herro and Lowry got plenty of reps in that role tonight, but seeing them both deferring to Adebayo in the half-court was a beautiful sight. Why is that? Well, as Adebayo said on media day, he began getting bored in scoring in the same old spots on the floor every night. In the first preseason game, though, he was spread throughout the half-court. Freeing him up in this way to be the talented on-ball player that he is takes this team to the next tier.
#4: A consistent evaluation: among the young group at the bottom of the roster, Caleb Martin sticks out.
The Heat’s two-way spots are pretty much a revolving door. At one point in this game, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin all shared the floor together for some pretty decent minutes on both ends. Why is that important? Well, not only is it abnormal for 2 past two-ways and 1 current two-way to be out there together, but more importantly, they all have a shot to contribute this season. Martin may have been the final addition to the roster, but it’s clear to many that it was an absolute steal. He is an athletic finisher, can create for himself at a high level, and really showed a hounding defensive presence on the perimeter. Coach Spo loves plug and play guys, and that is Caleb Martin. I’d expect to see him a bit this season.
#5: Miami’s front-court depth may not be perfect, but they have options.
The Heat’s front-court looks a bit different this season. Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon are the familiar faces in the rotation, but others are still trying to get acquainted. Omer Yurtseven and KZ Okpala may be at the bottom of that bunch as well, but rotational minutes don’t seem to be in reasonable reach to begin the year. The reason I discuss the team having options is due to PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. Before Tucker went out with an injury, he showed his role: corner threes and running DHO’s for the offensive threats. Morris, on the other hand, wasn’t getting the friendly roll from beyond the arc, but getting him to the middle of the floor by the free throw line seemed effective. The front-court has different skills across the board, and while they aren’t perfect, options are more important on this new squad.
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