Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Memphis

The Miami Heat fell short to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, and that wasn’t even the worst news of the night. Jimmy Butler returned after 4 games, while it was clear that he shouldn’t have been playing whatsoever, ending with him being sent back to the locker room in the third.

But here are some takeaways from this interesting game…

#1: Miami’s defensive issues right out the gate.

When looking at the scoreboard alone, you can tell that Miami couldn’t score, while also couldn’t stop the Grizzlies from scoring. A terrible combination in the game of basketball. The defensive issues is just essentially life without Bam Adebayo. They did some more switching with Jimmy Butler back, but it was more of that big man recovery stuff as Dewayne Dedmon rotates down and the guards scramble. Adebayo would always stay out on that ball-handler as the ball would rotate into the big with a guard on his back, leaving many observers screaming. Yet, that is now known as the good times. In a Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra defensive system, options is all they need. And they’re limited at this moment in time, combined with a semi-ginger Jimmy Butler.

#2: How are teams scheming against this new look Heat offense?

Adebayo is important, but is he as important as not being able to score on the offensive end night after night? Absolutely not. This leaves many questioning the issues on that end on nights like this, and one thing truly stood out. For one, Butler coming out quite rusty is an issue in itself, but that’s not the whole story. Although PJ Tucker has been great, solid defenders like Steven Adams can take advantage pretty easily. He’s gotten better inside the lane with that one-handed floater, but it’s not on super high volume that leave teams scheming against it. That means guys like Adams can free lance the lane on drives from Butler or Herro, limiting spacing for the top usage guys on the roster. It is what it is, since that’s going to happen in the playoffs, but release valves need to be shown much quicker on these nights.

#3: Tyler Herro doing what he does off the bench yet again.

Not many teams can play a game where you’re just buying time for your sixth man to come in and takeover. But that feels to be the case many games with this Heat team. Even with Butler in, they need that smooth scorer who can do it from any spot on the floor, especially considering there isn’t one bit of reluctancy with the amount of shots he should take. Upon entering, he was carving up that mid-range against the drop coverage that he loves, then sprinkled in more and more drives to the rim with the utilization of that backboard. But the issue is that checking your watch over and over in games like this can get you in trouble. That doesn’t mean he should start, since his role is working as a bench leader, but early starter production must rise for this formula to work. And being 7th in minutes on the team after 3 quarters should never be the case as well.


#4: Some interesting minute distributions in this one.

Plain and simple: Tyler Herro was your best player tonight. No Bam Adebayo, an injured Jimmy Butler, and a patchy Kyle Lowry confirms that even more. But logging the 7th most minutes on the team through 3 quarters is just a very off stat to come across. The starting lineup discussion is one thing to have, but the argument is that he’s going to get the minutes anyway. Well, tonight that wasn’t really the case, even after coming out playing decently well. Another interesting substitution was playing Max Strus for a 3 minute span, then leaving him on the bench for the rest of the competitive minutes. On a night where you can’t really score, using Strus doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world. Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin are great defenders, and that’s a cool theme to have, but relying on that skill of theirs to win games won’t work. Matching offense potentially can.

#5: Jimmy Butler playing through injury, which didn’t feel like the right call.

Jimmy Butler missed the last four games due to a tailbone injury, and if you thought he was taking his time coming back, this game against Memphis gave you your answer: he’s hurt. Early in this game, he fell right on that same spot on his back which left him in some pain, but the gingerly run came much earlier. He couldn’t move even close to the same way that he usually can, looked super uncomfortable with facial expressions, and frankly, had zero business being out there. Yes, it’s good to see him show some heart to want to battle with his team, but sometimes it’s just hugely unnecessary when trailing by double digits in a game in December. He headed back to the locker room mid-way through the third quarter, and that felt way too late for that to occur. He showed his usual grit, but definitely wasn’t the right call.


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