The Heat led the entire way against the New York Knicks on Friday night, yet folded late in the 4th.
They were outscored in the 4th 38-15. Clearly, problematic…
#1: A different look bench group gives Miami a decent boost.
When looking at Miami’s bench unit no matter who is playing on any given night, it’s always guard heavy. The way to know that is because Caleb Martin and Max Strus switch off playing the 4 from lineup to lineup. Yet tonight, those two guys were the smalls in the bench lineup. With Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, and Victor Oladipo out, those two along with Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon were the 4 next to one starter. I was a bit skeptical about the offensive spacing, but it went way above expectations. The reasoning: Morris and Dedmon spacing the floor effectively allowed it to work. Morris hit two threes and Dedmon added in a corner triple in that first half, opening up the motion sets for Strus and a driving lane for Butler. That group clearly didn’t lack size, which is a good change of pace from previous games.
#2: Jimmy Butler assertive and dishing early.
After the bench altercation in the last game against the Warriors, Jimmy Butler came out in the exact manner that you’d hope. Not only for aggression purposes, but using that into his facilitating favor. He had 6 assists in that first half, but that doesn’t illustrate the “over-passing” he was providing on the floor, which I’m not sure was coincidental. His chemistry looked as good as ever, as two late buckets in the second quarter consisted of him waving on the opposite side of the floor in direction of Kyle Lowry, while the Knicks were shooting free throws. Lowry bombs it, Butler takes advantage. He was taking smart shots, getting to the basket when he wants, and was really physical in the painted area. A good thing to see at this point in time.
#3: Caleb Martin is the ultimate Swiss Army knife, but why didn’t he close?
When hearing Coach Spo talk about Caleb Martin after games, you often hear the phrase “swiss army knife.” The reason is that you can place him in so many different lineups, against so many different match-ups, and a new thing that was picked up on, in so many different positions and spots on the floor. As I said a little earlier, Martin saw a shift up to the 3 with Morris and Dedmon entering the lineup. But forget the 3, since he actually went from corner spot-up and dunker spot spacer to running Miami’s actions. It’s clearly not his biggest strength, but he can get the job done, by making insert passes and exploding to the rim from time to time either for a bucket or some needed rim pressure. We know he’s a rotation lock, but this stuff can’t just slip under the radar. And more importantly, when Strus is getting hunted late like he was, Martin needs to be utilized as a closer. But that’s not on him.
#4: Bam Adebayo having moments as tough shot maker, yet quickly blends into team closing issues.
After Bam Adebayo finished off his third quarter stint, he walked to the bench with 16 points on 6 of 6 shooting. Usually when you see those type of clean and perfect field goal percentages, it equates to easy looks or more opportunities as a roller. Yet, that wasn’t really the case. His shots were far from easy, as he was taking some tough shots while knocking them down at a high rate. Early on, he went to a half spin fake before spinning baseline twice in a small portion of time. Why is that important? Well, for one, it felt like that was just added to his bag recently. And secondly, it was showing that his on-ball usage was a bit higher, for the lack of guards that I mentioned before. He even ran a few inverted pick and rolls with Kyle Lowry, which shouldn’t have the adjective “few” attached. When that is seen, good things happen. But lastly, good things didn’t happen late for this team tonight. All of the good I talked about from top players, disappeared in closing time, which continues to be a mystery.
#5: Jimmy Butler vs Udonis Haslem? Here’s my final statement:
Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem: pic.twitter.com/eRzqe07I1c
— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) March 26, 2022
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