Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Nuggets

The Miami Heat were looking for some revenge against this Denver Nuggets team, but as Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro were ruled out close to game-time, it seemed less likely.

So, here are five takeaways from this Heat loss to Denver…

#1: Kyle Lowry only first half starter to provide a consistent personal strength early.

In a game without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, all eyes are at the guys at the top of the roster. It’s not just about those guys plugging the holes of the guys missing, but them just bringing their elite skill out the gate. Kyle Lowry was the only guy who truly provided that among that group. Bam Adebayo’s shot attempts and scoring looking to skyrocket, but that didn’t seem to pop out through the initial 24 minutes of play. So many things can be addressed about that topic, but he just doesn’t look like his fully healthy self at the moment. Duncan Robinson needed to explode from beyond the arc, but the exact opposite seems to occur. Aside from Caleb Martin’s plug and play excellence, Lowry was the only one among the top 3 to sustain his biggest skill: passing. Five first quarter assists can tell part of the story, but he just looked like an energized version of himself in this one, which was absolutely needed.

#2: Miami’s defensive fun against Chicago to defensive struggles against Denver.

Miami had some fun on Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls. No Tyler Herro meant more Gabe Vincent, ultimately meaning more 2-2-1 press and 2-3 zone. In a similar rotational setting tonight, those defensive principles could not be carried over. The reasoning is that you just cannot survive in a zone defense against Nikola Jokic, and that’s for a multitude of reasons. The main one is that a 2-3 zone calls for the big to flash to the free throw line extended, which is when Jokic is at his best. Scoring options, play-making excellence, etc. So, as Miami stayed in man for long stretches, Jokic had some more fun by attacking the Heat’s small lineups, which came up a lot in an eight man rotation. And well, no Jimmy Butler clearly dips your defensive plan.

#3: Heat’s short-handed bench only source of production.

The Heat’s first half didn’t equate to many positive takeaways, but the one semi-positive thing to note was the team’s bench production. The reason I say it’s “semi-positive” is due to the chances of winning a tough game without two of your best players, while the two bench pieces are the biggest stand-outs. But yet, they were. As Bam Adebayo’s odd struggles continue, Dewayne Dedmon was inserted and he was ready. Snatching rebounds, scoring around the rim, and obtaining more touches than many of those around him. Max Strus also came out firing, starting the game 3 for 4 from three, giving Miami some life through the muddy issues. Leading scorers at the half being Dedmon and Strus just says more about the top dogs tonight than it does about themselves.


#4: Duncan Robinson’s shooting continues. But now, we’re past the 20 game mark.

I’ve spent many of these post-game takeaway pieces discussing the shooting of Duncan Robinson, which has been in a completely different sense compared to last season. Simply, the positional stuff, the sets he finds himself in, and the semi-shifting role must be thrown out the window at this exact moment. It’s just about…making ‘open’ three-pointers. I don’t think Robinson has found himself this wide open in the corner like he has so often this season. But it just feels like he can’t shake the mental side of this contract and new-look year. In no way is that an excuse for poor play, but it’s just the truth. He didn’t forget how to shoot and the differentiating spots aren’t *that* dramatic. It’s just about overcoming the hardest part of the game as a shooter, which now past the 20 game mark, is speeding up that ticking clock.

#5: Miami still awaiting the 4 quarter Bam Adebayo offensive focus.

There have been many points in the season this year where Bam Adebayo comes out super strong, but as the game grows closer in the fourth, that same guy isn’t there. Well, the opposite seemed to have struck in this one, as opinions were flying across social media about Adebayo’s underwhelming start. In my opinion, he definitely doesn’t look 100% as I said earlier, but if he’s out there, he needs to play up to a certain standard. That standard was finally held as he scored 15 points in the third on 10 shot attempts, ultimately showing that he’s capable of being that aggressive placeholder. The issue is that although that’s all great, the inability to display it for two full halves puts Miami in such an awkward and difficult spot by the end of it. He had decent moments when already down, but they need a tone setter in games like this.


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