The Miami Heat fell short to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, after a good start from a handful of guys.
Jimmy Butler battled late on the offensive end, but he didn’t have that sidekick to keep up the pace alongside him. Late-game offensive issues came up again with Butler isolations, and it ended in a Mavs win.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Miami’s defensive formula against a Luka Doncic led Dallas Mavericks team.
When looking at this Dallas Mavericks team on paper, they’re offensive structure falls right into the Miami Heat’s wheelhouse in terms of ways to defend him. They’re better suited this year for team’s with one superior player who they can try and eliminate from offensive impact totally. Simply, the goal is to make the others around him beat them. And well, we found out soon that those others would end up taking advantage for Dallas in the second half. We can talk about them unsurprisingly sticking PJ Tucker on him to start, while Bam Adebayo swiftly switched onto him with every screen, but the mid-post and half-court stuff was more intriguing. When he got a singular Heat defender on his back, here’s Jimmy Butler edging all the way over for the double. Once again, that’s Butler’s home base, and one of his biggest skills on the basketball court. When he can be that free safety, this Heat defense is at their best. But as the game went on, Doncic found a rhythm. He had a big third quarter as he adjusted to what the Heat were throwing at him, and that’s when he’s scariest.
#2: Omer Yurtseven plugs in, Omer Yurtseven stepping up big early.
Dewayne Dedmon was a late scratch tonight due to back spams, and there was another guy lurking to step right up into that role: Omer Yurtseven. Like he always does, he immediately began to fill up that stat sheet, but how does he do it? For one, the phrase ball magnet goes hand in hand with Yurtseven’s play. Yes, he’s a big guy who take up space around the rim, but the ability to find it and track it down around the rim is certainly a skill. Aside from that, he was putting up some scoring numbers as well, due to relief baskets around the rim. The Mavericks were constantly so worried about the kick-out after the drive to the weak-side wing, that they would predict the weak-side perimeter rotation. That left their defense with no tagger in sight, ending with some easy looks for Yurtseven, or even single coverage for his post hook. He performs at a high level when he gets opportunities, and it’s pretty promising.
#3: Oh hey, it’s assertive Bam Adebayo again.
Bam Adebayo went on another one of those aggressive runs in the second quarter tonight, and it feels like we’re getting closer and closer to this just becoming a regular thing. He’s facing up and just going on those strong side looks, which has a lot to do with Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler running away to eliminate that safety blanket retracting pass. There was a possession late in the second quarter where Adebayo dribbled up the floor, which flowed into a Bam-Butler inverted PnR. With an empty corner on his right, he refused the screen and took a strong drive back left with only the slower Dwight Powell standing in his way. He blew by him, got to the basket with ease, and laid it in. This version of Adebayo is scary, but when they can run stuff like that consistently, it elevates even further.
#4: Haywood Highsmith is signed, and immediately in the rotation.
The Miami Heat signed Haywood Highsmith to a 10 day contract earlier today, which could be a two-way contract pretty soon, but he found himself in the rotation pretty soon. With Caleb Martin and Tyler Herro out, there really weren’t many options among the reserves against Dallas, so he got an immediate trial run. When he was initially picked up by Miami early in the season, I said he was a pure Heat guy. Can switch and provide good defensive versatility, can hit the relief corner three, and knows where to be within Miami’s base offensive sets. But when his time ran out with Miami, I mentioned that he would be back. And here he is. Why did I think that? Well, due to all of the things I just named, he fills immediate holes with his versatility to plug right into different spots. We’ve talked about PJ Tucker insurance, but maybe they just needed somebody to eat up some minutes in this fashion.
#5: Heat’s offensive alternative getting them in trouble in second half.
The Heat were shooting 6 of 13 from downtown in the first half, then proceeded to go 1 of 12 from three over the next quarter and a half. That usually translates to how the offense is performing, but it appeared to be more than that in the second half. For one, combined with missing outside shots, they didn’t have other options at the rim as they did early on. Jimmy Butler grinded out some buckets throughout their rough third quarter stretch, just buying time for somebody to pop. That blended into the fourth, as Butler continued to get into “Butler mode,” purely taking over inside the lane to keep Miami in it. But the element that stood out was something I’ve addressed before: when Bam Adebayo goes out, don’t treat the back-up big like Bam Adebayo in times of need. Offense was stagnant, and somehow they found themselves working everything through Omer Yurtseven in the middle of the floor. He can provide a sparky punch, but the longer he’s out there, the more that can be exploited.
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