The Miami Heat came into game 2 with a similar mindset, and closed it out in a similar fashion.
Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo copy and pasted dominance. Jimmy Butler playing master facilitator. And the Heat defense swarming at all times.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Bam Adebayo in early attack mode is always a welcoming sign.
As much as we sit around and discuss the fact that Bam Adebayo has a favorable matchup against the 76ers, Bam himself is very aware of that internally. Entering these games, he knows that he will have advantages, especially after the PnR dominance with Tyler Herro, and he came out attacking yet again. Herro kept feeding him in that high pocket to give him a runway, and not only did that lead to positive offensive, but it put him in a position to consistently get to the line. Once he gets some early foul calls, you always see that mental shift where he begins to drive more. Plus it should be noted that his defensive willingness was felt. No matter who he switched on, the immediate reaction was to clear. He creates a 4-on-4 match at times, which is a special trait.
#2: Heat going more zone, Philly going less zone.
Heading into this series, one of the main things I highlighted in my preview was the “battle of the zones.” Both had very valuable reasons to utilize it, and the 76ers obviously got the first real crack at it. In the second quarter of game one, it gave Miami real trouble. Nobody was flashing middle, they weren’t able to get into the primary actions, and it allowed certain matchups to not be exploited. But now, the Heat were waiting to adjust. They consequently went to it less to begin this game, but Miami increased the frequency on their end. Pressuring with Oladipo and Martin in the 2-2-1 which blends into the 2-3. Usually the release valve was that Tobias Harris gets into a post up on the low box, which was okay with them as he shot 3 of 11 in the first half. Never should it be gone to for too long, but it’s something to monitor in this series.
#3: Tyler Herro continues to love the matchup and coverages.
Looking at Tyler Herro in the first half of this game, I could pretty much copy and paste most of the stuff I said in game 1. High PnR dominance, making the right reads and passes, and scoring whenever he chooses as he eyes the back line defender. The only difference though tonight, he was eyeing the initial defender a bit more often. Instead of focusing on the next read, he keyed in on the current one. That usually meant a quick pull up off the screen, a snake dribble inside once Jordan began playing higher, etc etc. The point is that we’re aware he can score the basketball at a high level and can exploit this defense, but mixing up reads isn’t easy at his age. But yet, he’s a natural in that space.
#4: Jimmy Butler controlling the game through every lens.
After as dominant of a first round series as humanly possible for Jimmy Butler, he seemed to fully hand the keys to Bam and Herro in game 1 against Philly, for obvious reasons. But in this game, his scoring around the rim was coming much more naturally than it did in game 1. Yet, I’m not focused on the scoring. We know he can get to his spots and dominate most matchup advantages on the floor. But without Kyle Lowry, he stepped up big time in terms of total control. Halfway through the third, he had 10 assists logged and it was all on the natural flow of the offense. And looking away from schematics and into natural fandom, as a Philly fan behind us at the game chanted at the team all game, it flowed into “We still love you Jimmy,” late in the third. He can have that hold on you I guess.
#5: Victor Oladipo combinations steadily improving.
Looking at game 1 under a microscope, the Victor Oladipo combinations were a bit different than we’ve seen. Instead of running his own lineups when Butler was out, he found himself running next to both Butler and Herro pretty often. They were a bit shaky to start since he was being used primarily as an off-ball threat in the corner, but they blended him on the ball a bit more in this game tonight. This offensive flow won’t just click over night, but the thing about it: it doesn’t have to. We can hone in on that all we want, but the truth is that his defense on top players makes any combination work. When you can do to James Harden what he did in this game, it’s clear something is going right.
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