The Miami Heat lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers once again, and it was in similar fashion. Short-handed, some offensive issues, and top player struggles.
So let’s hop right into some takeaways from this one…
#1: PJ Tucker with the early impact.
Last game against Chicago, PJ Tucker finished the game with 8 points on 3 of 7 shooting, while going 2 for 4 from three. What was Tucker’s stat-line 6 minutes into this game tonight? You guessed it: 8 points on 3 of 7 shooting, while going 2 for 4 from deep. That may seem like a positive thing individually, but it’s also not the greatest indication for the team. When a guys highest attempts in a game is 10 so far this season, 7 in the first few minutes usually means somethings wrong. We saw things breakdown later, but Tucker was that steady rock that kept them going. Some great box-outs, timely boards early, and that coveted corner triple. Being a number one option on a night like this is something nobody could’ve expected coming into the season.
#2: Tyler Herro’s one struggling defensive adjustment this season.
Tyler Herro hasn’t had many down games so far this season, but the one single time I’ve seen him rattled was that home match-up with Cleveland back in Miami. To begin his NBA career, drop coverage was the only thing he could truly pick apart, but he’s expanded upon that this year. He has counters for switches, counters for blitzes, but the one thing he hasn’t shown a comfortable counter for is length. Guys like Lauri Markkanen blanketing him on the perimeter, basically daring him to drive into a funneled death trap of more bigs. If he continues to navigate the outside, his main release valve for separation can’t be gotten to. His high release point is his way around tight defense, but it’s impossible to rely on that against three 7 footers. Spo drew up a decent game-plan for him with higher screening and more room to operate, but things were still a bit odd.
#3: Dewayne Dedmon is not Bam Adebayo, so he shouldn’t be used as such.
With the usage of Cleveland’s bigs, it was clearly a rough time for Dewayne Dedmon. He can handle his own against guys like that, but he’s much better as the complementary piece with match-ups like this, who can be used as an altered body for Bam Adebayo. But tonight, he’s it. Gabe Vincent actually made some nice plays by tying up the big in the post, but ultimately that doubling can only get you so far, as I said on Twitter in the second quarter. Shortly after, the Cavs found the open areas to attack. On the other side of the ball, Dedmon has been great in his simple offensive role, but when the offense is at its absolute worst, is when Dedmon is being used like Bam. News flash: that should never happen. Having him on the wing for hand-offs three straight possessions won’t cut it. He’s capable in spurts, but the over-reliance can hurt them against teams like this.
#4: Duncan Robinson the ball-handler?
This wasn’t the greatest shooting night from Duncan Robinson, but the difference with tonight is he actually fought through to still make an impact offensively. Like I said after last game, he let the two-point shot dictate the three instead of vice versa. Now tonight, he stuck to a game-plan no matter the shots falling or not. Something that was seen out the gate with him was that when he put the ball on the floor to drive, good things happened. It wasn’t just the flashy behind the back passes to Dedmon down low. It was just his comfort levels being through the roof. He wasn’t rushing as a passer, he wasn’t rushing as a dribbler. He was just making the right reads with guys on his hip. And that’s what can counter his poor shooting some nights. Yet, many times it’ll still lead to losses like this.
#5: An obvious takeaway, but tonight’s issue falls into the Jimmy Butler column.
Evaluating the team stats throughout the night, it felt like it never aligned to the score. Miami and Cleveland stayed neck and neck in field goals, field goals attempted, threes, threes attempted, etc. The one stat that wasn’t close all night was free throw attempts, and more importantly, free throws made. Not making the limited free throws that were provided is weird in itself. But ultimately, it isn’t a surprise that occurred, since it’s just what comes with the personnel they had. There wasn’t one guy in Miami’s rotation tonight that was somebody who can reliably draw fouls, other than Kyle Lowry who hasn’t done that very exclusively this season. I wouldn’t say it is an issue due to it not being expected anyway, but that was the difference maker tonight in terms of statistics.
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