Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Pacers

The Miami Heat headed up to Indiana for a single road game detour on Friday night, before they have a plethora of home games ahead.

It was far from a pretty basketball showing in this one. Trust me.

Anyway, the Heat fell short, so here are my immediate takeaways…

#1: First half offense: oh, let’s talk 3 point shooting.

The Heat shot 5 of 24 from deep in the first half tonight. Buddy Hield on the opposing side knocked down 4 threes alone in that span. Yeah, I’d say that tells a lot of the story of a game. Miami was generating pretty good looks throughout that period, but it just wasn’t dropping for most of the Heat’s role guys. They were looking their best through strong drives for fouls or post splits for Bam Adebayo to hit cutters, as he did on back to back plays to Gabe Vincent in the second quarter. Yet it’s clear that the blueprint when playing without Jimmy Butler, would be to hit perimeter shots with heavier offensive lineups. To add onto this, Indiana’s defense is one that allows pretty high percentage looks from deep, which is why this was a bit surprising.

#2: The bench looking thin…

No Jimmy Butler. No Victor Oladipo still. No Omer Yurtseven still. Nikola Jovic didn’t make the trip. So the bench was going to look pretty similar to the last game against the Kings. But after explaining that last section of shooting, this grouping had a big part in that. Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, and Dewayne Dedmon formed the 8 man rotation early, and all three of them didn’t look like their best selves early. Robinson was missing open looks, Dedmon had a rough time with the Pacers’ quick guards in drop, and while Vincent struggled a bit early, still gave them enough on both ends in that back-up PG spot. Shortly after, the Heat’s “9th man” on the night Haywood Highsmith entered. At this point, many of us are looking for those minutes to go to Jamal Cain, but we’re just not there yet. Soon…

#3: The Bam Adebayo foul trouble conversation.

As I mentioned before, this team has no Yurtseven and a shaky Dedmon to make up the backline for Bam Adebayo. That leaves the team needing one thing: for Bam to stay on the floor as much as possible. Yet we’ve seen an uptick in fouls to begin this season, which could be for a few different reasons. The main one is that he’s being more aggressive as a rim attacker and roller, which is racking him up some offensive fouls. And I can live with that trade off. On the other end, he’s getting some fouls in the paint on contests, since he’s playing the “cover-up” game at all times, which he’s pretty accustomed to. The process of toning this down is awkward, since you don’t want to backtrack his aggressiveness on either end. But it gets to a point where they need to be mindful, since the trade-off of two points or keeping Bam on the floor, is an easy answer.

#4: Max Strus’ growth continues to shine.

When looking at this team to begin the year, there’s no doubt that Max Strus has been the one guy that’s growth has shined the most. For starters, he has saved this team’s offense time and time again when coming off the bench. His consistent shooting gives this team a different look and flow, but that’s just the beginning of his improvements. The defense has been serviceable, but more importantly, his overall movement and cutting to be a threat inside the arc has shifted his shot profile. We saw that again tonight on his third quarter run, where he scored 7 straight. A three off a DHO, followed by a steal and bucket in transition, then capped off by a perfectly timed cut when he noticed Haliburton ball-watching. Been clear that his bag has broadened.

#5: Bam Adebayo uplifting Miami offensively in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.

As the Heat look like they have stalled out in their second half run, Bam Adebayo took the keys on a night without Jimmy Butler. He got into the middle of the floor for a good looking pull-up middy halfway through the 4th, giving Miami some offensive hope. Shortly after, on an ugly possession with the shot clock trickling down, he faked a handoff, sprinted at the rim, and got the and-1 to really catapult this group. It’s one thing to call plays for him late, but it’s another when he’s asserting himself at this time of a game. The only issue with all of that: nobody could find a flow from that point on. The ball was sticking, shots weren’t dropping consistently, and well, they still had a chance at the very end. Some back and forth with controversial calls led to the last minute feeling like an eternity. Eventually, down 2 with 10 seconds left, Herro attempted a fadeaway three for the win, that came up short…

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