Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Timberwolves
The Miami Heat fall late to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night, even considering Tyler Herro had a 30 point night.
Minnesota got hot from the outside, and they couldn’t counter.
Well, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Max Strus making his rotation case yet again.
Max Strus walked away as the player of the half over the first 24 minutes just from a spark perspective. He’s clearly not afraid to shoot it, but he also went 4 for 7 from deep in that span. Part of that had a lot to do with Miami’s attackers, which is a fantastic story-line considering they were without Jimmy Butler. Guys were getting into the teeth of the defense, allowing Strus to thrive as that extra pass in the corner or wing. Aside from that, his shot creation goes under the radar a bit in terms of screen navigation. One play to start off his offensive night began with him refusing a screen with a spin, turning into a wing pull-up. His catch and shoot is his base, but the on-ball creation is what makes his rotation case interesting. But simply, once the playoffs get here, a potential offensive spark when needed will be his primary role.
#2: Bam Adebayo making a small offensive critique.
Looking at Bam Adebayo’s offensive punch as of late, we’ve seen it in a different light. We’ve seen the big time performances when the jumper begins to fall, but this interior stuff is new. I talked about his presence down there against the lengthier Cleveland, but he wasted no time going right at the bigger Karl Anthony Towns. And it’s one thing to score frequently inside, and another thing to do it with complete authority and bully ball. That’s the key. Everybody highlights the need for more post-ups in his game, but when he’s going strong and using his body before going up is essential. The foul calls will come, but not shying away from that size is important. And man is he using that right shoulder before going up in the painted area.
#3: Heat edging away on the boards.
When monitoring the rebounding situation from Miami in this one, the Heat kept chipping away against a Timberwolves team that didn’t have Vanderbuilt who is one of their better rebounders. This isn’t to say that the simple Markieff Morris insertion means they need to go big to win that battle, but part if it was on Bam Adebayo, and the rest was just pure team crashing. We’ve seen Miami’s defensive plan against teams like Minnesota, where PJ Tucker and Bam Adebayo switch every pick and roll on a talented combo, like Towns and Edwards. The issue is that sometimes means Tucker is battling on the boards against that much bigger center. Yet tonight, I felt like there are some positives to getting by that, mostly through Bam sagging off the shooter immediately after that ball goes up, leading to the crash.
#4: Tyler Herro silently sliding under the scoring radar, but not from the Timberwolves’ perspective.
When going down the Heat roster tonight, many guys popped in the scoring column from the eye test. Strus was shooting really well, Adebayo was attacking. But somehow Herro’s 21 first half points outdid them all, and from my perspective, it didn’t feel like he was the leading scorer by that margin at that point. The reasoning: it’s the typical at this point. He was facing a Minnesota team that doesn’t allow many mid-range jumpers, meaning he would have to alter his shot profile slightly. Cutting that mid-range out is a quick indication to Herro that he’s going to get his three-ball up, which led to a plethora of pull-up jumpers. We saw that against Milwaukee about a week ago, which is a good sign for the playoffs. When it becomes half-court basketball and they limit him, stretch out into high pick and rolls then go to work. And if they throw extra bodies at him like Minnesota did, it all comes down to the supporting cast hitting shots.
#5: Markieff Morris return: sticking to an offensive base.
Markieff Morris returned essentially out of nowhere hours before tonight’s game, as some other key wings took the night off. I think we know what he is at this stage, so no major surprises, but I’m pretty sure the reliance on him as a play-maker would need to decline, even though I’ve highlighted his previous comfort in mid-post sets. Either way, that “mid-post” phrase is the key to anything involving Morris. His three-ball isn’t a consistently trusted piece of his offensive package, and the rolling reps are a bit uneven, other than transition. But a simple slip at the top of they key into the mid-range is his home, and Kyle Lowry will hit him in his “home.” He still provides obvious components defensively and on the boards, but his role moving forward is still in question. Another big man insurance piece to potentially insert in, since it still feels Caleb Martin has his rotation spot locked up.
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