The Miami Heat were looking to expand their winning streak to four games against a Hawks team without Trae Young and Clint Capela, but Atlanta just seemed to want it much more in simplistic terms. These type of losses just further magnify the issues of this current Heat team, which leads us right into the five takeaways from this game…
#1: Miami’s first half defense was not their strong suit.
On a night that Atlanta was without two starters, in Trae Young and Clint Capela, it seemed like defense wouldn’t be as much of an issue. John Collins would have to see Bam Adebayo for valued minutes, instead of him being glued onto Capela, but he got his way anyway. The Hawks were forcing switches leading to mismatches time and time again, and did a great job of taking advantage of Miami’s blitzing, swinging the ball to the open shooter. And the thing about that open shooter is that this Atlanta team didn’t miss much in that first half. Lucky for Miami though, they were knocking down shots as well, but it’s not ideal that you’re identity is the point of inconsistency against a depleted Hawks team.
#2: Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn take turns generating offense.
There have been some discussions lately about the long term options of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, which has caused these two to be compared constantly. But something that must be noted, is that they can actually be impactful together. Nunn kept them going early by knocking down some shots from the outside, but an interesting element is him becoming the Trevor Ariza of the three-guard lineups, when he should actually be the Kendrick Nunn. Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro struggled on blow-by’s, while it shined light on the fact that Nunn should be the on-ball option. Herro got into a flow in the second quarter, once again, as an off-ball option. Some of his movement led to open space on the perimeter, which is what he will have to do until he becomes comfortable again on drives to the basket.
#3: Duncan Robinson doing the same thing he does every night. Oh, except shoot the deep ball well.
It may become a bit repetitive when reading about Duncan Robinson on everyone of these pieces, but truly, that just showcases his level of consistency since the trade deadline. He obviously didn’t shoot the ball well from deep tonight, but it’s so intriguing when watching the differences in his offensive sets. He’s running much more stuff out of the high pick and roll, which gives him much more room to navigate, and ultimately, forces him to drive more. And a driving Robinson isn’t the worst thing in the world, since he seems to be getting more and more comfortable in that area every night. When I asked Bam Adebayo about his decision making in those spots, he highlighted Robinson’s level of work everyday to improve, and that seems to be exactly it with this level of improvement.
#4: Mistimed third quarter decisions led to Miami’s drought.
It’s hard to pick out some of the small things when a team is just absolutely shooting the lights out, but there definitely were some signs in that third quarter that played a part. Bam Adebayo was having trouble on the boards, which led to an early insertion of Dewayne Dedmon, who always seems to give them good minutes offensively around the basket. The only issue with that was it was clear Miami was heading toward that surprising 2-2-1 press into a 2-3 zone, but they may have gone into that a bit too late in the quarter. When going zone, Dedmon probably isn’t the best big man option due to limited mobility, which forces the lower tier defensive assets to have more of a load. And that right there is the point of the zone, meaning that exact timing of subbing and defensive adjustment was a bit off in that stretch.
#5: This game was……well, predictable.
If there’s anything that is widely known about this Heat team, it’s that they truly rise up when facing the best teams in the NBA, while fall short against depleted rosters or lower tiered teams. Well, that’s what happened tonight, since they played like the team without two starters. The main theme of this game tonight was to instill a certain level of consistency after finally getting into a rhythm over the last few games. And even though shots were falling at a good rate throughout, everything else basically fell apart. A bad defensive performance, tough time on the boards, and an odd passing display with a team that usually looks so crisp with their ball movement. Jimmy Butler said a few weeks ago that you don’t know what team you’re going to get whenever they play, and that once again shows to be the case.