The Miami Heat faced the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, and it wasn’t your normal game.
Golden State got hot without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, which caused chaos on the Heat sideline. A Udonis Haslem-Erik Spoelstra-Jimmy Butler scuffle occurred, pretty much sparking this group through and through…or the exact opposite.
Anyway, here are some takeaways from this game…
#1: Kyle Lowry completely shifting the nature of this offense.
The Heat had some rough patches, as I’ll get into shortly, but if you were reflecting back at halftime, Kyle Lowry should be your primary takeaway. When you imagine one specific part of his game that needed an increase, it has always been that pull-up three. He’s an incredible play-maker in the PnR, but the way to elevate that is to take that pull-up when it’s there, which eventually shifts the defense. That happened in the second quarter, when after he buried the deep three, Miami’s offense turned. Next possession, he took a baseline drive after the shot fake, pulling the entire defense his way before looping a pass to Dewayne Dedmon in the corner for three. Right after that, he speeds pace back up by bombing it to Jimmy Butler for the lay-up. All of that is great, but it all spirals from that pull-up triple. Not by making it, but simply by taking it.
#2: The ups and downs of Miami’s offense and defense.
Aside from the positive of Lowry in that first half, one other thing strictly stuck out about this team: the inconsistency from play to play. Part of that may be that there’s 10 games left in the regular season, so they are coasting, but that just shouldn’t be the case. The offense came out flowing really well, but hit a wall. That wall could also be referred to as Jimmy Butler being subbed out on a night the team is without Tyler Herro. But we’ve talked enough about the offensive issues recently, while the defensive droughts are new. As they were out-hustled and out-energized in Philly, there were glimpses of that in this one. The paint numbers for the Warriors were wild, just due to the defense overplaying ball-handlers and allowing easy back-cuts, specifically baseline. That stuff needs to be cleaned up. Part of that was Victor Oladipo adjusting and Max Strus simply getting burnt off-ball, but consistency defensively is a major tool.
#3: So we saw Markieff Morris? And Dewayne Dedmon? Yes, and that’s the playoff theme.
When watching Markieff Morris to begin this game, it wasn’t his best stint in a Heat uniform. He was a primary reason for the interior scoring being so lopsided, and his defensive quickness just wasn’t there completely. With that said, Miami needed some type of shift, so Coach Spo quickly looked in the direction of Dewayne Dedmon to give them some size, rebounding, and an interior deterrent. But as I’ve said a lot, this team won’t have a back-up big when the post-season rolls around. They will have multiple. The fact that the coaching staff has been getting an extended look at Morris at the 5 has nothing to do with Dedmon exiting. There are match-ups where the spacing will be more important in that 8 minute stretch, and there will be nights where the size and rebounding is much more useful. They’re role players, so the role will shift depending on the series, and even the night.
#4: Jimmy Butler vs Udonis Haslem?
Jordan Poole hits another wild three to cap off a 19-0 run to begin the third quarter. As the Heat go to the bench, things go south a bit. Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem going at it, players jumping in to pull them away, Erik Spoelstra fuming. It a moment that represented two things: either the floor opening up beneath this team as the beginning of the fall. Or, the spark this team needed, not just in this game, but this season. Well, the next stretch pretty much gave you that answer for the time being, as Bam Adebayo and company made the subs go sit back down in the third to finish what they started. Offensive and defensively, they were locked in. Not stupidly, but they were locked in. That’s the energy this team has missed, and Udonis Haslem may have just done something.
#5: Bam Adebayo is the key to this team’s success.
I can sit here and have minor discussions about PJ Tucker’s post split success, the excellence of Butler and Lowry when they’re clicking, or even the consistent scoring burst Tyler Herro adds. But if I can be completely honest, through all of that, Bam Adebayo is the key to this team taking that next post-season leap. In that big third quarter, it was a bit blurry with all of the off the court stuff that occurred, but Bam Adebayo continued to have moments of interior dominance just due to the fact he had more energy than anyone else on the floor. He looked like an alpha. But the issue is that he only has moments as that alpha. If both him and this team want to jump to that next tier, they simply need alpha Adebayo. Can they get that? Yes. Will they? I have no idea.
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