The Miami Heat had a similar outcome on the second night of this back to back against the Denver Nuggets, since some issues led to yet another loss. Although Bam Adebayo was aggressive to start and their defense was there for stretches, the overall consistency is the real issue. So, let’s take a look at five takeaways from this game…
#1: Bam Adebayo begins the game with an offensive purpose.
After Bam Adebayo had 6 shot attempts in a loss against the Phoenix Suns one night ago, he came out in the first half tonight with 12 points on 13 attempts. When discussing the reason for this exactly, I’d bet it has a lot to do with Adebayo realizing himself that he must takeover at times as the second best player on the team. And as I’ve mentioned, that doesn’t mean he has to take that open mid-range jumper every play, but instead it’s necessary to move downhill on a nightly basis. Centers like Adebayo are not a common thing in this league, which is why he must utilize those strengths any chance he gets, and attacking off the dribble is a good start.
#2: The interesting sides of Jimmy Butler as a defender.
Instead of discussing some of the all-around defensive issues that were shown tonight at times, it’s important to take a second to focus in on the elite abilities of Jimmy Butler on that end of the floor. For starters, it really is interesting that he’s so good at guarding guys in the post. I don’t know if it’s something he’s always been good at, or if it has developed over time, but either way that attribute no matter the post player’s size is pretty impressive. The other element to his defensive skill-set is the continued ability to hit the passing lanes. Once again, while I’m not going to focus in on some of the soft switching occurring throughout, Butler’s backside rotations to hit passing lanes basically saves that constant blitzing, highlighting his effectiveness even more.
#3: Trevor Ariza really finding himself in the offense.
I’ve harped on Trevor Ariza’s immediate fit on defense, by guarding opposing guards or getting deflections, but the offensive fit this quickly really wasn’t expected. After he kept Miami going in the first half a night ago, he was the leading scorer at the half as well tonight with 13 points. The most impressive stat at that point was the fact that he was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, since that was the one thing we noted that Miami missed early in the season. The only issue is that he shouldn’t be the leading scorer for this team, which just furthers the inconsistencies of this Heat team. Once Miami gets clicking on the offensive end regularly, the effectiveness of Ariza as an offensive threat will become even more apparent.
#4: The two-way guys both one-way sparks.
When a takeaway is about the team’s two-way players, that basically sums up how this game went. Gabe Vincent was obviously going to step up into the role of Goran Dragic, but clearly doing just the opposite of what Dragic does. Even though shots falling from deep hasn’t been the staple for Vincent that we once thought, he really competes on the defensive end. Miami even began going into a 2-2-1 press at one point in the season just due to his aggression. But the other two-way guy is the real interesting piece. Max Strus is an outstanding shooter that never seems to really get a full opportunity. There may not be a consistent role for him on this team, but when the team has their moments of offensive struggles, why not throw in Strus to try and spark some things from the outside.
#5: Deja vu?
This game feels pretty similar to a past performance from the Miami Heat, and that may be due to it occurring exactly 24 hours ago. Some really great offensive flow and defensive execution out of the gate, then the team begins to slowly plummet due to a bit of inconsistency. The blame against Phoenix was Adebayo’s aggression and Dragic’s lack of production, but neither of those things can be utilized after this one. The only consistent takeaway is that Miami lacks overall bench production, leading to second quarter fall-offs. Erik Spoelstra clearly notices it as well, since he took Adebayo out six minutes into the game, as he tried to stagger Adebayo and Butler’s minutes as much as possible. And well, that’s when the eyes will turn to Tyler Herro, since that’s the reason he is in that bench role.