The Miami Heat played the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, and Bam Adebayo was showing out fresh off an All-Star nod.
It was another night of an absolute grind though on both ends, resulting in a Heat loss in the final seconds.
#1: Bam Adebayo, the two-time All Star, showing out in the Garden.
Shortly before tipoff, the All-Star reserves were released, as Bam Adebayo was one of those names. Much deserved, while I’ll save that exact topic for another time. As for this game, Adebayo was playing like that All-Star self. He was the story of the second quarter as the Heat worked their staggering rotation between Butler and Bam, as Bam found his offense over a specific stretch. He had a pair of big time dunks, as one was a complete poster on Fournier who was late on the weak-side help. Aside from that trend, the Knicks were playing at a much faster speed than the Heat wanted. But Bam doesn’t mind thriving in that field. They began finding him in transition consistently which they need to do more of. He was the offense for them early on, finishing the half with a complete clear-out and isolation pull-up. The main bright spot.
#2: Another on/off Heat point guard segment.
At halftime, Kyle Lowry was a -20. The Heat only trailed by 3 points at that time stamp. It should be noted that Gabe Vincent was great in all elements of that half, but the main thing to note is that the offensive energy shifted. He entered and flowed into a high PnR and knocks down a pull-up three. That alone was the primary explanation. Vincent is comfortable, Lowry is not. We can talk about him missing shots, needing to guard post players every time down, or the constant off-ball role all day long, but his entire career was built off control, confidence, and comfortability at the helm of an offense. He has nothing close to that anymore. That’s the second straight game where he had an invisible first 24 minutes. Once again, that just can’t happen, especially when you are hurting the team.
#3: Udonis Haslem as the backup big, telling in many areas.
The first Heat player to hit the scorer’s table tonight in Madison Square Garden was no other than Udonis Haslem. Orlando Robinson will be out for a bit, possibly leaving Dewayne Dedmon another opening. Except they correctly didn’t go that way. Why? Well the logical perspective is that he’s being discussed in trade conversations, so why risk him getting injured. The other perspective which is where I lean: Haslem is the better option right now. His principles defensively are much more impactful than alternate options. But the other thing this conversation showcases: the trade deadline is a time for front-court help. I know that’s an obvious thing to say, and yes Omer Yurtseven is coming back soon, but they can’t be one injury away from making decisions like this one in April.
#4: A wild third quarter with runs on both sides.
A 3 point game turned into a 13 point game rather quickly to kick off the third quarter. The Heat couldn’t score while the Knicks found their way against certain matchups. One of those matchups was RJ Barrett against Tyler Herro, since they were really trying to draw that switch time and time again. Well if that’s happening, they’re going to need something big from him offensively. And they began getting it. Three straight possessions, three straight Herro triples. The key was that he was confident in his pull-up out of that high PnR, and as he found his offense, others did as well. Miami ended up hitting 5 triples in a 3 and a half minute span, taking the lead right back. Yet to finish the quarter, the early quarter story turned into the late quarter story. Heat had trouble scoring, as Randle now found the matchups he liked for buckets or kick-outs in that mid-post. It’s a game of runs, and this 12 minute span showed that.
#5: Late-game activity: Bam Adebayo *was* the offense.
That late-third quarter stuff blended right into the fourth quarter. The Heat’s zone was being picked apart, and the shots from deep weren’t falling for Miami. As things were going downhill, Bam went into selfish mode. A great mode. He would run down the court, get into his mid-post spot, then operate into a jumper. Then again. Then Butler entered and they ran inverted PnR’s for him. Then again. Waiting til you are trailing by double digits to run this stuff for Bam and let him loose is probably the weirdest part about all of that. This play-style cut the lead to only 5. They continued running stuff for him, such as an easy curl into the free throw line that cut the lead down again to 3. Like I said in the headline, he *was* the offense, and that needs to be a constant theme. Shortly after, he flowed into a baseline step back late in the shot clock, getting him to the 30 point mark. Some back and forth continues with some New York buckets, and Tyler Herro mid-range play, landing in a one possession game under a minute to go, Knicks inbounding. They lob it up to Randle, Bam swipes it for the steal, and gets it into transition. With the Heat down by 3 and a chance to tie, Herro had a good look for three and missed, then they got the steal for another chance. Herro passed up on a three, kicked to Strus, which led to a turnover. Yet that wasn’t ball-game just yet. The Heat challenged the inbound on the Knicks side and won it with another chance to tie or win. Inbound to Herro in the short corner, and it’s off. Buzzer sounds.