The Miami Heat had a good looking lead against the Brooklyn Nets early in the 4th, but Kyrie Irving began to happen. Miami would try and mix things up, but he would beat every double that came his way.
Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo had some big shots throughout to keep some padding, but it’s something to keep an eye on. As PJ Tucker noted previously, leads aren’t a comfortable nature on this team.
A big time Jimmy Butler drive with 20 seconds left put Miami up 3, which should always be his late-game outlet. An eventual Lowry steal iced it as they tried to get it to Irving.
Anyway, here are some takeaways from this one, heavily focused on the early game positive elements…
(Twitter thread incoming on the 4th quarter stuff later)
#1: Gabe Vincent: Two-Way deal to two-way dominant force.
When you hear the word “versatility,” your mind immediately flows in the direction of someone like Bam Adebayo, who can guard positions 1 to 5, be placed in different roles, and still be an evolving young player. But when watching Gabe Vincent, versatility is a key word. For one, you see him make unexpected plays on the defensive end, like Iguodala-esque steals and a highlight block at the rim. But more importantly, he’s constantly shifted within the offense. He’s running sets and dissecting the mid-range immediately. Then they go small with Lowry-Vincent-Herro-Strus-Adebayo, which relies more on his off-ball spacing and ball movement stringer. He kept Miami’s offense afloat in that first half, and it wasn’t just because of that 11 point mark in the scorers column.
#2: Tyler Herro looking fresh early on.
Staying the course of Miami’s first half offensive avenue, Tyler Herro was the other piece next to Vincent to keep things above water early on. But aside from that, he just looked fresh. After getting two games off, he came back in full dissector mode, but one play in that first half showed major growth. When facing drop, which he has major success against, the defender looped over the top of the screen and cut him off as he flowed into a potential mid-range pull-up. Instead of retreating back out per usual, he turned the corner, kept his dribble alive baseline, and found himself wide open around the rim for a lay-in. The phrase “turning the corner” is the interesting part, and it’s something we didn’t attach much to him in the past. But I’ve found myself noticing it a ton this season. He ended up not closing which was a bit surprising, but I’m not sure the specifics yet on why.
#3: My minor offensive evaluation: Bam Adebayo growing in “Kyle Lowry world.”
Watching Bam Adebayo get the ball on the break, run in the open court, then finish in traffic for a transition lay-in provides some flashbacks to what we’ve seen throughout this week. But seeing it on repeat over this recent stretch leads to further evaluations. Kyle Lowry basically forces surrounding pieces into playing at an extremely fast pace, but there’s an adjustment period with that, especially with Adebayo early in the season. Yet recently, I’ve seen Bam filling up transition gaps in a much more comfortable way. It may be Lowry’s world, but Bam seems to really fit the mold of his community.
#4: PJ Tucker. That’s it. That’s my takeaway.
Miami’s off-ball movement begins, the ball starts to swing, and finds the hands of PJ Tucker as he rises up from the dunker spot to post position. He gives a quick little post move, then turns into a nice looking post hook. Yeah, abnormal. The following possession, two defenders end up doubling Kyle Lowry in the corner, which he then flips it to Tucker on the baseline slip. He gets into post position again, kicks it out, but the ball gets tipped. What do you usually do next? Well, a normal person would see the Nets defense scoop it up and get into transition. But when you are PJ Tucker, you dive on the floor and tap it out in perfect fashion for a Duncan Robinson corner three. Plays like that just sum up Tucker, as he crawled back to the defensive end with Adebayo simultaneously picking him up.
#5: The solidity of a back-up big.
Looking at the teams that sit atop their respective conferences as the 1 seed–in the Heat and the Suns– we can pick out many similarities between the teams. But one that grazes under the radar, yet shouldn’t, is the solidity of the back-up big spot. JaVale McGee is another story with the way he can plug into the starting lineup or provide spark minutes, but Dewayne Dedmon just shows that he can be Bam Adebayo’s playoff minute eater. Bam playing 40, while Dedmon keeps them afloat across the other 8. Looking at tonight, it clearly wasn’t his most efficiently impactful night. He had some moments where he’d snag a needed rebound, or even hit a three early on, but perimeter teams who go small can play him off the floor and put him in an odd spot. When watching runs like the one seen from Brooklyn tonight, it shows the importance of his impact. Or better yet, the potential of Miami going small in a shrunken rotation against certain teams in the post-season.
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