The Miami Heat got a win over the Houston Rockets on the second night of a back to back, without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro. The entire supporting cast stepped up on the offensive end all the way through, headlined by a pretty impressive night for Kendrick Nunn. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Kendrick Nunn stepping up early as expected, continuing his catch and shoot clinic.
Since Miami was far from complete on Monday night, Kendrick Nunn was one of the few names that stood out when evaluating a possible explosive performance on the ball. And as expected, Miami relied on him heavily whenever he was on the floor, and he produced. He was forced to become even more involved as a passer, as the PnR’s were used over and over with Precious Achiuwa as the sole lob threat. But his offense that has really stood out lately is his shooting from the outside. This was mentioned after yesterday’s game as well, but it really unlocks a lot of things for this team when fully healthy. If he can be utilized as an off-ball threat next to a guy like Duncan Robinson, it makes their offense pretty interesting while Victor Oladipo is out.
#2: Andre Iguodala: The one calming hand.
Andre Iguodala was labeled as questionable before tonight’s game, which seemed as if he would be ruled out on the second night of a back to back. He did end up suiting up though, and it was definitely for the best when looking at Miami’s offense when he was on the floor compared to off of it. Many would expect that drop-off to occur on the defensive end, but it was actually that facilitating presence on offense that kept Miami going. He is actually capable of getting guys different looks other than the normal PnR, and more importantly, everybody just seemed much more comfortable when he was on the floor. Although some of the pull-up jumpers could’ve been eliminated tonight, he gave Miami an offensive element that they obviously missed.
#3: KZ Okpala truly misses those extra reps away from actual NBA games.
A pretty obvious takeaway is the fact that KZ Okpala really could’ve used those extra reps in a Summer League or G-League atmosphere. All of his experience has been him getting thrown into odd situations, which he’s far from being able to fill. One game he doesn’t look at the rim at all, while other games he looks at it a bit too much with the amount of space he’s given when standing beyond the arc. He’s clearly talented, but he just doesn’t seem to know how to use that talent at this stage, which is expected. One thing that is widely known is that he’s not a catch and shoot player, but he always seems to be plugged into that type of role. He won’t truly make a leap in impact until he’s able to play his own game, when playing freely off the dribble and in transition, which once again, will not occur until he gets additional opportunities in other areas.
#4: Dewayne Dedmon playing his role to perfection.
When Erik Spoelstra made the comments about utilizing youth before tonight’s game, it was pretty obvious he was going to insert Precious Achiuwa into that starting role, and keep Dewayne Dedmon as the back-up big. And the same thing stuck out tonight as it did yesterday, which is Dedmon plays his role to perfection, doing what he does well consistently. He truly battles on the boards, but most importantly, the constant effort on the offensive glass creates extra opportunities for the Heat’s offense. He’s also a very good defender in the paint, since he does a good job of contesting attackers without getting off his feet to foul them. There’s zero doubt that Dedmon has that back-up big spot for good with the way he’s been playing lately.
#5: Duncan Robinson showcasing an unfamiliar attribute: Shooting.
Most of these takeaway pieces involving individual player evaluations consists of discussion about the undercover areas of their games. But tonight, the most obvious attribute for Duncan Robinson cannot go without discussing, since he was lighting it up from deep on a night where the defense was expecting it even more. He’s on the top of the scouting reports every night, but when Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler aren’t next to him in the starting lineup, it felt like a lot of those looks generated by Adebayo screens would be out the window. But they weren’t, and in fact, this may be the type of game that gives him a bit more variety moving forward with his scoring abilities.