The Miami Heat fell short to the Chicago Bulls this time around, after some fourth quarter struggles on both ends of the floor, due to the spaced out minutes of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. The Heat were without Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Andre Iguodala, but it was still a very winnable game. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Miami increases the pace early on, and that leads to good things.
The Heat’s early half-court offense was quite awful, but luckily, another element picked that back up. One thing that is known with this team is that they are defensive minded, which transition offense can be their specialty. The pace began to increase in that starting lineup with Goran Dragic, running the floor time and time again, with Jimmy Butler leading the way in that area. Most of their half-court sets were leading to absolutely nothing for a good amount of stretches, meaning the constant contested threes were fluid. But one positive is that if Miami can continually lock up on the defensive end and turn that into offense, that will be crucial to truly know what the team’s offense really is.
#2: Bam Adebayo switching onto guards is tough against two big lineups.
For starters, this is not to downplay the scheme in anyway, since it’s shown to be pretty effective with Bam Adebayo bitzing, while Butler and Trevor Ariza swarm on the back-line. The only issue is that Adebayo getting caught onto guards like Coby White creates problems when a team has Nikola Vucevic and Daniel Theis sharing the floor for long stretches. The Bulls basically wanted the Heat to make that switch each possession, so they can get into their post play without Adebayo getting in the way. Another aspect of that switching is that the Bulls also have a big small forward in Patrick Williams, meaning Chicago was prepared to attack that match-up of Duncan Robinson on the first possession in the interior. Once again, this isn’t an Adebayo issue or scheme issue, but it might be a bit of an awareness issue at times when playing a team that is front-court heavy.
#3: Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler-like things.
When walking away from that first half in particular, aside from offensive or defensive evaluations, Jimmy Butler was the true focal point. He had 16 points at the half, while going 7 for 8 from the field, and this traces back to the first takeaway in a lot of ways. When he is running the floor like he was tonight, he’s tough to stop. Really tough to stop. Not only was he punishing them in transition, though, since he was very comfortable with that mid-range jumper throughout. One thing this points toward is Butler in the big picture. When he says just get me to the playoffs, he means it, due to the fact that he’s shown time and time again that he can score the basketball whenever he chooses, while continuing to compete on the defensive end. The first half wasn’t his only time of offensive impact, since he exploded even more in that third quarter as him and Adebayo scored 25 straight points for Miami.
#4: Heat missing bench production even more than usual.
Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Andre Iguodala were all out of tonight’s game, meaning the bench would look a lot different than usual. Even though players like Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and KZ Okpala were leading those lineups, it was much worse than originally expected. Miami’s entire bench didn’t have a made field goal until late in the third on a Dewayne Dedmon layup, which just shows the offensive holes that were waiting to be filled. Although the bench unit will be harped, which is filled with two-way guys and players who could be in the G-League, that offensive vacancy was also shown with the starting lineup counterparts. It’s not important to harp on the bench tonight in particular, but they will need some level of production with a full roster. These issues have been occurring even when Herro, Iguodala, and company were playing, and that’ll be the moment this team takes that next step forward.
#5: Bam Adebayo continues to have his flashes of aggression and impact, but it wasn’t enough to win.
Even though I touched on the earlier run with Adebayo and Butler, it’s necessary to mention Adebayo’s continued flashes of realization. With guys out and Butler resting on the sideline, the early fourth quarter minutes were truly going to come down to Adebayo. And well, he had his flashes in that stretch. Running the floor and taking the contact in transition after a Vincent deflection and Bjelica dive comes to mind first. It’s important for him to get to the free throw line when he’s looking to dominate, due to that unlocking that next level for him. He also began to wait on the block, instead of facilitating on the elbow, which is another sign of realization. Although this was all great, he was then subbed out as Butler entered, which is a main reason for Miami falling late. They didn’t have that additional boost, and it’s harder to gain rhythm when they’re forced to lead lineups on their own.