The Heat drop the opening game of this home stand to the Chicago Bulls, and it wasn’t a surprise.
When you struggle to shoot and defend, you don’t win basketball games.
The Heat got a good night from Bam, but the drop-off from there was steep. Not a huge margin for error with this roster.
Five takeaways tonight…
#1: No Butler. No Lowry. Yes Bam.
It was a rough start for the Heat in the first quarter, since if you exclude Bam Adebayo, the Heat shot 4 of 18 from the field. Adebayo, though, was 4 of 4 from the field. At the half, he was 7 for 7 from the field for 16 points, along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Oh, and he can play defense a little. For one, he was just getting to his go-to in that 8 foot range, simply flowing right into the pull-up effortlessly. His second level of impact came through running the floor. Not through transition points, but getting Miami into early offense. Hand-off at 18 seconds at the shot clock isn’t the usual, but it is when your big is playing point guard. Lastly, the Heat’s shooters were being blitzed heavily. What does that mean? Slip, pocket pass, kick when tag comes, assist. Adebayo was doing some very good things in this one, if the stats didn’t say so already.
#2: The Heat’s defensive game-plan: a full game timeline. From bad to good to worse.
The Heat came out in pure Chicago Bulls match-up fashion: switch the pick and roll to have Adebayo shut the water off, as the Victor Oladipo/Max Strus type fights for his life by fronting the post. Quickly after Nikola Vucevic started 4 of 4, the Heat shifted to a zone. From there, Zach LaVine got hot through shooting spot-ups above the break, largely decided by the Heat’s 2-3 zone. But then the adjustment came. The Heat built a rhythm as they went back to more of that double and recover scheme. Basically if Vucevic was found as a mid-range post-up hub, or DeRozan got to his middy area, the Heat were shooting over a second defender. That caused turnovers, and got Miami easy buckets for a positive run to finish the first half. The issue was that it seemed they couldn’t get back to that. In the second half, the switching returned, and so did Vucevic’s interior scoring. Point of attack issues continue to re-appear. The theme: this team has good stretches of game-plan, but it usually fades on night’s like this.
#3: A minor play for many, a telling play for me.
As I stated before, Herro was seeing doubles out of the PnR in this one. Yes I know, no surprise. He had a slow start, but began picking up as a scorer late in the second quarter. But more importantly, he was making the right pocket pass reads along the way. To finish the second quarter, he flows right into a middle of the floor PnR, and the same doubles flies his way. Except this time, the pocket pass wasn’t thrown. He got up in the air, turned, and flung an over-head pass to Robinson on the left wing for three. Those are the minor elements needed to perfect the overplaying he’s going to see. It’s not always going to be the conventional way to get him out of awkward scenarios. Plays like that are important to shelf for the moment.
#4: A certain Oladipo led lineup explains a lot of the night.
In pockets of this game, the Heat went to a certain 5 man lineup that I proclaimed the “let Dipo cook” grouping: Oladipo-Robinson-Strus with a mixture of Highsmith-Cain-Dedmon. Obviously a tough lineup to try and win generally, but it was all about Oladipo creating at the top of the key for himself or others. And well, that wasn’t a good thing. The issue was that when he was creating for others, that never seemed to end in a positive result. Nothing against his play-making or constant skip passes, but the reliance on Dedmon as a hand-off hub says a lot. Plus Dipo’s own shot wasn’t falling consistently, and there’s a heavy reliance on the three-ball. The Heat ran a reluctant eight man rotation in this one, but it was clear those off pockets of the game were too tough to overcome on either end of the floor.
#5: So, about the Bulls relation to the Heat…
When speaking trades, there are many teams that will be looking to tank even further in search of that number 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Other teams will just begin to sell as they fall down the charts, which includes the Chicago Bulls. When watching this team live tonight, it raises the question of who would improve this roster. Well the answer to that is many of them, but let me just stay with DeMar DeRozan. If you can find a way to add him to this roster, you do it. I know it’s not the prettiest fit on paper, but watching Spo tinker with Sioux Falls players every night to try and make it work, just give him the talent. Figure everything else out later. Obviously this is an ideal scenario, but it doesn’t feel as out of reach as past conversation. In my personal opinion, I’d try and poke around that as long as possible.