The Miami Heat fell short in OT to the Indiana Pacers, in a game that was the basketball definition of “in the mid.” Jimmy Butler just couldn’t put the ball in the basket, and without Kyle Lowry, it became the Tyler Herro show late.
On a very rough offensive night, here are some takeaways walking away from this game…
#1: Bam Adebayo’s aggression stays consistent early on, but unfortunately fades late in terms of offensive set-ups.
The Heat are 8 minutes into a pretty uneven start to this game. Bam Adebayo with 6 shot attempts, rest of Miami with 7 total shot attempts. This wasn’t just an abnormal aggressive start from Adebayo. This is just him now. Pulling up with zero hesitance on that inner wing, attacking the basket right at Myles Turner and Damantas Sabonis like he always does against this team for some odd reason, and getting to the line due to that driving urge. The point is this: if it can get to a point where it’s expected instead of hopeful, then that’s a fantastic starting point. Nobody will question an inefficient night at this stage of his career, the same way many will question an unwillingness to shoot. The issue with that is he faded late. When offense grew more and more stagnant in overtime, it was forced jumpers from Butler and double teams flying to Herro. In a game like this, Adebayo must be set-up late the way he was set-up early.
#2: Kyle Lowry out, Gabe Vincent in. What does that mean for the rotation status?
Kyle Lowry was a game time decision for this game and ended up sitting out, which I don’t think was a bad choice considering it’s only game two. As I expected, Gabe Vincent stepped into the starting lineup, since well, that’s the Erik Spoelstra way. But after a slow start from Vincent, it may lead to some questioning the insertion, but let me just say that move is even more necessary in a game like this. Things clearly fell apart in the non-Butler and Adebayo minutes like they did last season, and starting Tyler Herro means you’re making the minute distribution even worse. Vincent looked very predictable in his minutes, since his defender seemed to always know exactly what he was doing before he even did it. But a major point of emphasis in a game without Lowry is to put Herro in the right spots, which they did…
#3: The growth of Tyler Herro is real…and it’s not just one thing.
When walking away from the first half, the primary takeaways were all negative: lacking full-on engagement, Butler’s shots weren’t falling, Dewayne Dedmon looked a step slow with that ankle injury, etc. But a positive element somehow outshined those other things: Tyler Herro. A 16 point performance in the first half through 16 minutes doesn’t do his evaluation justice. Movement shots on the baseline, carving up the mid-range with ease, and utilizing that added muscle by embracing contact on the attack. That stuff is brand new. We can sit here and breakdown the “growth” from Herro to begin this season, but it truly isn’t one thing. He’s just comfortable, and combining that with an immense amount of confidence to lead the team in shots in the first half by 5 attempts is pretty interesting. And then capping it off with clutch shot after clutch shot late in the fourth is a completely different story. The emergence is here.
#4: Miami’s third quarter fight finds an offensive set that is quite intriguing.
Jimmy Butler had a rough game shooting the basketball, but he did find other ways to chip away with this team. One way of doing that was defensively, and the other was trying new things on the offensive end. Early in the third, Butler found himself on another isolation on the inner wing, which hasn’t worked all night. Duncan Robinson makes his way around the wing instead, Butler hands it off to him, and two Indiana defenders fly at him. Robinson dumps it down to Butler on the short roll: easy score. A few possessions later, the same thing is seen again. Robinson draws attention on the hand-off, Butler gets it in the middle of the floor and lays it in. But is it just that simple? Well it is, until Robinson adds that dribbling element like he did late in the third. The third Butler DHO for Robinson was seen, but they were ready for the roll this time. Robinson gets to his right, finds space inside, and banks it in. This offensive wrinkle sparked them tonight, and could be a base moving forward.
#5: This team is going to play in the mud a ton.
When I say that this Heat team will find themselves playing in the mud frequently this season, that isn’t a knock on their offense. It’s putting this defensive structure on a pedestal. Miami had trouble scoring as well, but holding this Pacers team to 8 points in the third quarter after the way they came out shooting wasn’t accidental. Even without Lowry and using plenty of Robinson-Herro lineups, this team stayed true to their identity. Not because of pure athleticism or defensive abilities, but through perfect positioning on that end. The number of charges drawn in this one should tell you enough about how this game went, but even on rotations, this team found themselves in the right spot time and time again. Many may look at a stat sheet from the second half and say Indiana had an off shooting stretch, but it was actually the pressure Miami put on them on that end when the offensive stuff wasn’t clicking. But after the team offense truly never “clicked,” the defense finally broke down late, leading to an overtime loss.
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