The Miami Heat faced the Chicago Bulls on the front end of a back to back, and came away with a comfortable win in Chicago.
Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro all stepped up at different moments, showcasing a minor switch being flipped as they edge closer to the playoffs.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Jimmy Butler’s jumper revived?
Watching Jimmy Butler in the first half, two things were noticed. The jumper looked like it was peaking, and his play at the 4 is rising rapidly. Why is that important? Well, those two things go hand in hand. His play at the 4 has opened up his scoring lanes at another level, specifically in that mid-range area. There’s less crowding going on with only one of Adebayo or Tucker occupying the dunker spot, and spreading out three shooters. But the fact of the matter is this: the jumper is looking better than it has all year. However you may feel about the three ball, his teammates have been in his ear to shoot more of them, and he’s not shying away from it. There’s been less of that one-legged fade and more of that slight rise off two feet, and that’s the formula. And it’s clear, his jumper falling raises the ceiling of this offense majorly.
#2: The Heat’s first half adjustments from Erik Spoelstra: a product of 3 straight triples from Herro.
When looking at the first stint for Tyler Herro, he kicked off his opening stretch by getting blocked 3 straight times. Patrick Williams specifically was helping over a ton on that strong side to make impressive plays with his athletic build. But then came the adjustment. How do you eliminate that? Well, for one, you go to more empty corner stuff since that eliminates that type of help at the nail, and basically bends an entire defense. They shifted the ball into the hands of Jimmy Butler, since they noticed this over-helping combined with the extra shooting on the floor. The help came, a Herro corner three came out of it immediately, which is essentially the reasoning Miami was getting so many corner triples. The following two plays were driven by an attack by Butler or Bam, and a kick-out for an eventual swing. Both Herro threes again. Tyler Herro may have been the effect, but Coach Spo was the cause. Adjusting early was the key to this one.
#3: So, a healthy group in tact. Who’s the 9 man rotation?
One of the main things I had an eye on heading into this game was the new look rotation. Yes, Victor Oladipo and Markieff Morris are certified situational players right now, but there are still decisions to be made. The bench options consisted of Herro-Vincent-Robinson-Martin-Dedmon, yet it’s clear they want to go 9. So, who was the odd man out? Tonight, that guy was Martin. It feels like they’re trying to get Vincent into an offensive rhythm anyway heading into the post-season, so maybe that decision was predictable. But it wasn’t the final decision for sure. When looking at the options off the bench, I don’t know if it’s Martin or Vincent anymore like we’ve displayed it often. Could it actually be, Martin or Robinson? Yes, they’ve needed spacing, but Miami’s kind of figured it out with the alterations. Not saying that’ll be the case, but I’m sure it’ll go through some minds.
#4: Kyle Lowry’s shot attempts continuing to rise.
When Kyle Lowry previously said he would use a short ramp up period to prepare for the “real season,” he wasn’t kidding. Game after game, now that there’s a handful of games left, his shooting numbers fail to decline. As I’ve said after many games this season, and more specifically lately, that pull-up three shifts everything. Just taking it. Teams begin to worry about that, and the skip pass he was throwing early in the season sees a lot more space now that two are flashing to the ball. Fast forwarding to the third quarter, what may have seemed like a minor possession stuck out to me. Lowry-Bam pick and roll ends in a deep floater for Lowry trotting down the lane. The reason it stuck out is that he was passing that in the pocket a month ago. His shot attempts within the pick and roll were staggeringly low, but now he’s hitting strides at the right time. Just like he said.
#5: Dewayne Dedmon providing solid minutes.
In a game that Bam Adebayo got in some early foul trouble, it meant an extended look at Dewayne Dedmon consequently. And well, after he’s had some rough nights as of late consisting of piled up moving screens, he had a really good night overall on both ends. He was active on the boards, moving as a roller, and scoring around the rim efficiently. But most importantly, he looked like he was moving really well, which is they key to his play in small stints. In the playoffs, if Adebayo is pushing 38 minutes, they just need two solid 5 minute stints from Dedmon to move the needle. He was their best post-season performer a year ago, but that was because he only played 16 regular season games before entering playoff mode. Now it’s a different circumstance, but they’re hoping for a similar form.
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