The Miami Heat had a rough overall night against a low tier Detroit Pistons team, but came away with a win due to a Tyler Herro explosion.
He’s doing some elite level things as a scorer right now, and they’re very sustainable traits. Half-court control, defensive carving, and pure scoring one-on-one.
So, here are five takeaways from this matchup.
#1: Jimmy Butler comes out strong, while providing a broader team theme.
Starting off a post-game piece about Jimmy Butler is pretty normal this season, and that’s for a few reasons. For one, he’s scoring the ball at an elite level, and continues to get to the line as he’s averaging the most free throw makes a game this season. The other reason is that he’s been a first quarter killer recently. Why is this being looked at slightly negatively? Well, it seems like one player has their “quarter” every night. Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, and Tyler Herro all seem to take turns on the offensive end, which frankly isn’t a great way to operate, especially when you pride yourselves on a ton of movement and non-stop ball movement. Once they can just gel ‘together’ for 48 minutes, that’s when you’ll see them really turn the corner offensively.
#2: When lineups look for offensive comfort, they often look for Tyler Herro.
As sixth man Herro enters the game, he has a simple rotational routine with this group. Play next to Butler to start, while Bam and Lowry revolve next to him shortly after. The point is that he’s playing with a ton of different combinations, yet there is one common denominator among every unit: Herro is the comfortable offensive piece. He’s no longer looking around for somebody to bounce off of, but others are searching for Herro to take control. As great of a point guard as Lowry is, the team is in a different level of control when Herro just takes guys off the dribble and scores like he was to finish this game. We knew a lot about Herro’s game heading into the season, but possessing that comfort and control was in question. Well, not anymore. He’s their guy.
#3: Miami’s lineups getting more and more interesting.
Miami’s starting lineup was in tact tonight even though Duncan Robinson, PJ Tucker, and Adebayo all had some questionable tags prior. Still, Miami’s missing Markieff Morris off the bench after the incident with Nikola Jokic, so it’s just the usual rotation, right? Wrong. As Miami floated through the first half, it took me a bit to realize that Max Strus hadn’t entered. Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent were both utilized instead, as Miami’s defense was based around their top of the key presence in the 2-2-1 press and 2-3 zone. But the lineups are the interesting part. Martin at the 4? Lowry-Vincent-Herro combinations for long stretches? This Pistons team was small due to them being without two of their bigs, but rolling with these groupings as a stretch shooter, in Strus, is on the sideline is just an interesting choice.
#4: Miami’s defense is schematically set-up to move forward, but continues to revert back.
The Heat’s defense was projected to be very high this season, and that begins with the surrounding cast allowing them to be much more controlled on that end of the floor. A point of attack defender in Lowry means Adebayo can play by the rim more often, and Tucker on the back-side gives them more perimeter flexibility. But the soft switching has not only returned, it has been elevated even further. Weak-side screen comes, Lowry’s on a big, Adebayo’s on a guard. Screen comes on the ball, Robinson’s defending in isolation. Where “soft” switching comes into play is that Detroit isn’t even setting hard screens. It’s just come up and the ball-handler retreats with his new defender. This team is an elite defensive team, but they need to fight through those screens to uphold their elite defensive skill.
#5: Living at the free throw line: balancing that in a good and bad way.
There are two totally different reasons that Miami has lived at the free throw line in specific games. One of those reasons is that Miami just dominates the pace and can dictate when they elect to slow things down. The other reason, which was the case tonight, is that offense is so terrible that getting to the line is the only source of offense. In many ways, before the fourth quarter Herro explosion, the free throw line was the only thing that kept Miami competitive with this 4 win Pistons team. Butler obviously dominated in that category, but many other role players quickly followed suit. Some nights high free throw shooting doesn’t equate to a great offensive night, but sometimes it just gets the job done when needed.
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