Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over 76ers

The Miami Heat faced the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night, and a relatively healthy group without Kyle Lowry took care of business.

Zone defenses were a highlight element of this one, but as Philly edged back late, Caleb Martin came up big time on both ends, completely shifting the feel of the game.

Anyway, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Once again, Miami simply loves inside the arc offenses, and it relies on two specific things.

When evaluating this Heat defense against this Philadelphia 76ers offense, we didn’t get the true full look. The reason is that although I’ve been saying Miami can excel against this offense for this very reason, James Harden changes things clearly. But well, it was shown tonight why it falls in Miami’s favor. For one, the one-on-one match-ups are clear, which is that PJ Tucker will guard Harden, as he did against Tyrese Maxey tonight, as Bam Adebayo sticks Joel Embiid. They do that to predict the switch, which is winnable on both ends. If they attack Tucker with Embiid on the block, that second defender is coming. Then a third. When watching this plan that we all expected play out, the obvious thing that sticks out is the swarming group in Embiid’s face. But what makes that all possible is the back-side rotations, due to the fact they can afford to fully double and leave their individual assignment. That’s the difference with this group.

#2: The three-point element, but more importantly, the Duncan Robinson element.

The Heat started out pretty hot from beyond the arc, while the 76ers began in just the opposite fashion. Six different Heat players knocked down at least one three in that first half, but it’s more about how they’re generated. Hence, the Duncan Robinson element. With Joel Embiid planted in that deep drop, it’s single coverage for a hand-off guy/screener and the movement shooter. So when that pairing is Adebayo and Robinson, it just comes down to the elimination of the defender on that individual shooter. That means it all comes down to Robinson hitting the shots that he has hit so consistently across his Heat career. We don’t know how seeding will shape out, but Robinson would be absolutely essential to set them apart in this Philly match-up. If he causes the 76ers to shift their defensive base, point Miami.

#3: Jimmy Butler returns in attack mode.

Jimmy Butler’s 14 point first half tonight was a bit surprising since it came in the natural flow of the offense. That number might’ve shocked some when reading it at the half, and that’s when Butler is most impactful. He combined the two elements that shifts his offensive outlook: efficient scoring at the rim and free throw shooting. He got to the line 6 times in the first 24 minutes, and that is another key aspect in this potential series with the pace setting Embiid and Harden with getting to the line. But if this Heat team is going to try and capitalize on elite defense on the other end, while neutralizing Embiid and the 76ers strong attack on the boards, efficient nights at the rim are important. The bunnies were dropping, he was getting to his spots, and like I said, these weren’t isolations. It was coming naturally within the offense.

#4: The Heat’s need to dissect what they’ve mastered: 2-3 zone edition.

We’ve spent a lot of time of talking about the Miami Heat and the 2-3 zone, but not in this specific manner. They’ve mastered it themselves, but tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers threw it right at Miami to see how they’d react, which wasn’t well. Miami likes to edge up the guys on the box in their zone, as Philly elects to rise up their man in the middle. It mucks up that middle of the floor entry pass, and forces you to make quick decisions. For the first 6 minutes of the third, it was clear they had no willing zone buster on the floor. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler splitting reps in that spot of the floor, but neither would take that willing mid-range jumper. And if you don’t take that, every other option on the floor is restricted. Which speaking of restricted, that essentially ties PJ Tucker’s hands behind his back offensively. The only willing zone buster was Tyler Herro, as he continued to attack and split the front two, as he flowed into that coveted floater. But to force Philly, or any teams, out of it, you have to capitalize on that middle of the floor option.


#5: A Heat lineup to keep in mind.

There’s a lineup that has stuck out for quite some time, and it’s probably not one you’d expect. A bench lineup of Gabe Vincent-Tyler Herro-Max Strus-Caleb Martin-Dewayne Dedmon has provided a clear spark when healthy, but one shift within that lineup has been even more flexible. With Bam Adebayo exiting earlier, he then enters for Dedmon for a pretty versatile and young group. It’s a perfect combination of shooting and defense, and gives the veteran group a healthy breather. Tonight, we saw both of those variation for a decent amount of the fourth quarter, and they cracked the code on Philly’s defense for stretches. That has a lot to do with Herro doing Herro things, but even Vincent bailed them out possession after possession. Victor Oladipo could potentially plug into that spark lineup, but it’s something to keep in mind for now.


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