This Heat-Hawks game felt like multiple games in one. From an early Hawks on-pour into a Heat second half run into more Atlanta tough shot making.
Some takeaways from this Heat loss on Monday afternoon…
#1: Well, the first half summary is…something.
65% from the field and 67% from three. Those were the Hawks shooting numbers after the first 24 minutes of basketball. The Heat’s zone was being picked apart into middle of the floor push shots and kick-outs for threes, but I wouldn’t say this was by any means a schematic lapse. The switching was being countered as well, simply based off tough shot making in isolation. Those numbers aren’t just mirrored by a rough defensive night, that’s just offensive insanity to be quite honest. Now as for the Heat’s offense, they actually went through a 5 minute stretch in the first quarter where they didn’t miss a single shot. 9 of 9 from the field. How did they not make up any ground? Well, they turned the ball over about 6 times in that span, just demolishing their offensive flow. Shot making and turnovers: pretty much the summary of this one early.
#2: Herro, Martin back. But rust making an appearance as well.
The Heat were rounding back into form a bit on the injury report, as Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin were inserted back into the starting lineup this afternoon. Martin’s four first half minutes told the story for him, since he had 3 fouls in that span. He was looking a bit rusty as you would expect, which leads us into the Herro conversation. He starts the game 0 for 5 from three, but my biggest issue wasn’t really the zero. He seemed to be forcing that three ball on a night you would expect rust. Getting off that three point line into that floater was clearly his blueprint, which he flowed into slightly late in the second quarter. Not based off missing time, but Bam Adebayo looked rusty too in that first half with that 2 of 8 stat-line. Yet he was able to turn it around shortly after.
#3: Jimmy Butler generating points to start into an interior jam into an eventual flow.
While I discuss the many issues to begin this game, Jimmy Butler had an early 12 point to give Miami’s offense a tiny jolt. Mostly off fast-break buckets, but he was finding his lane a bit. As we saw a shift into the half-court, the Hawks were overly collapsing on his rim attempts. Atlanta had 3 blocks in the first half, and I’m sure all were on tough Butler drives. He wasn’t getting the calls to get to the line, so he began trying to play through it. There isn’t much to overly analyze when it comes to Jimmy Butler’s offensive game, but one thing that stands out on a night like this is the choice of attempts at the rim. There will be moments of that extra pass to Robinson under the rim that kills a possession, just needing to go up immediately. Then a tough force on multiple defenders the following play. Fast forward to the third quarter, his shot selection opened up, mostly off his defensive uptick, which I’ll get into next…
#4: The third quarter run: Bam Adebayo led offense, Heat locked in defensively.
While I’ve diagrammed the entire first half struggles for the Heat, the third quarter was just the opposite. Jimmy Butler set a tone defensively to begin the half, as the Heat closely followed. They began hitting passing lanes, doubling and recovering, and getting out into transition. A Heat style. As for the offensive flow to make this a game after trailing by a ton, it was all Bam Adebayo. After a rough start, he began finding his rhythm on his usual mid-range face-up game. Turnaround jumpers, play-making over the top, and crashing the boards for put-backs. He is the engine to what this team can do on both ends. These type of runs always begin with him setting the tone as an offensive base, since once a defense begins to pinch, the Heat’s offense can flow from there.
#5: Let’s talk about a certain 4th quarter substitution pattern…
As I just described the Heat’s gritty run, they rolled into the fourth quarter only down 11. With the momentum shift, that lead seemed very gettable. Yet one thing was clear as Butler went to the bench to finish the third: they will need him back soon to steal this game away. Dejounte Murray kept hitting tough shots to keep the lead, as Butler stayed on the bench through every minute bench mark. 10 minutes to go, 9 minutes to go, 8 minutes to go: it drew a very viable question to ask why is Butler not in the game yet. He finally entered after a timeout with 7 minutes to go, as Bam went to the bench as he had been on the floor the whole half essentially. But by that point, in my personal opinion, it felt as if their window had closed. They had a pocket of time to attack on the fall-off from Atlanta, but the survival mode of the non-Butler minutes into another survival mode stretch of the non-Bam minutes didn’t help their case. Miami still made a late push anyway, but this pattern felt like it made things so much harder for this Heat team following the run.