The Heat faced the Bucks on Thursday night before the prime-time matchup on Saturday.
On the second night of a back to back for Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo and others sat.
With trap game written all over it, the Heat came out slow. But bounced back in the second half to get the win.
Here are my takeaways….
#1: The first half bench scoring going two separate ways.
To begin this game, the Bucks bench scored an immediate 20 points behind the play of Jevon Carter. The Heat’s bench points at that same time stamp: 0. Obviously the options were pretty slim, as the Heat’s bench consisted of Oladipo, Cain, and Robinson, but the offensive process on both sides was staggeringly different. Fluid pull-ups and good threes coming from the Bucks side, as it was a grind for guys like Oladipo to get into a rhythm with the way the Bucks were defending, leading to 1 of 6 shooting for him in that first half. I can’t say I’m very surprised on the offensive side for Miami, but the way they were being shredded defensively was more shocking. The Heat’s rotation tonight had more positive defensive players than not, which is why seeing Carter get so many good looking pull-ups was a rough watch.
#2: Gabe Vincent finding some offensive rhythm.
As I just mentioned Gabe Vincent, it should be mentioned that he was the guy that originally got Miami somewhat on track offensively. He got a spot-up triple to fall off an extra swing, then followed that up with a screen refusal and left handed drive into a floater off the glass. Now that he was feeling it, he ran an isolation to his left and took a step back jumper with his feet on the three-point line: and-1. For one, it was necessary tonight with the Heat’s offense sputtering. On the other hand, it’s good to see Vincent find some type of rhythm. His shooting has pretty much been all over the place this year, and a more stable offensive option is what this team is searching for on nights like this one. His shot profile is the same, yet all he needs is the percentages to level out.
#3: Bam Adebayo trying to beat the Brook Lopez allegations.
Seeing Bam Adebayo back in the Heat lineup was a good sign considering the uncertainties with his wrist injury. Yet while the Heat offense was the definition of “in the mud,” the blueprint quickly became get the ball to Bam in the middle and let him work. He came out early with two quick pull-up mid-range jumpers against Brook Lopez in that deep drop, which is the easy counter to what we saw in the post-season in 2021. That coverage won’t give him nearly as much trouble as it used to with this new go-to jumper unlocked. I did notice some minor tweaks from Milwaukee as early as the first quarter. After those initial jumpers, Lopez began playing the pick and rolls slightly higher. Fast forward to the third quarter, Bam had a sequence where he rose up for a dunk on the roll with Lopez in the deep drop, got the rebound on the other side, then flowed into a pull-up middy over Lopez yet again. With his upgraded skill-set, deep drop no longer scares him.
#4: The recent offensive blueprint says a lot about Tyler Herro.
From a win against the Thunder to this game tonight, the offense has not been pretty for the Miami Heat. Butler free throw hunting against OKC to Vincent and Adebayo saving in this game against the Bucks. Aside from those components, one thing is clear: Tyler Herro is probably more important to this offense than we even note. We’ve obviously discussed his scoring runs and play-making improvements, but the drop-off has been clear when they’re without him. Simply, it’s just cleaner when he can get them a good looking pull-up at the elbow and force some nail help. That alone opens up the half-court in a way we haven’t seen the last few nights.
#5: What might be the most promising Victor Oladipo sign yet…
As Victor Oladipo walks onto the court to begin the fourth quarter, it was definitely not his best showing as he was 2 for 8 from the field. The shots weren’t falling, the offense was a mess, and the Bucks rim protection was pushing him away from his own offensive base. Yet in the opening possession of the quarter, they forced a turnover, Oladipo scoops it to push pace, and it results in a fancy spin and finish in transition. The following possession, Oladipo runs a high PnR with Bam against that deep drop, and steps into a pull-up triple at the top of the key. Timeout. When I mention the most promising sign, I’m talking about overcoming rough performances. Doesn’t have it going, out of rhythm. He still finds way to battle through and find his groove in a different manner. I didn’t expect this level of impact this soon this season, but I must say the comfort in his own ability is glaring on a night like this.