Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cavs

On the second game of the road-trip, the Heat faced the Cavaliers in Cleveland.

The Heat battled through for a solid win behind Jimmy Butler.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: Jimmy Butler sets the early offensive tone.

The number 1 defense in the NBA colliding with another top 5 defense never screams pretty offense. And that was looking to be the case to begin this game. The Heat looked lost in the half-court, quickly flowing in a terrible direction in that building. Yet, Butler took the reigns of the offense to steer Miami back in the other direction. He was spamming mid-post touches, mostly following off-ball screens to create mismatches. Garland or Dean Wade on his back meant he had them right where he wanted. Low post touches for lay-ups, drawing clear fouls, and simply watching for the double. After an immediate 11 points, that double was coming sooner, as he began dishing out to baseline drifters. He revived Miami in that first quarter with this formula, and that’s an equation we will see very often in big games.

#2: One Bam Adebayo moment that is needed during a tough stretch.

Bam Adebayo seemed to be carrying over that Charlotte Hornets rust early in this game, as that solid Cavs defense was jamming Bam up to not even receive the ball in his spots. Fast forward to the second quarter, Adebayo got the ball at the half-court line in transition. He put his head down, crashed into Jarrett Allen, and threw down a tough dunk over the top of him. From that moment on, Adebayo found his rhythm. A 12 point second quarter was the result, all coming in that painted area off drives, post-ups, and of course some short mid-range touch shots. But the main point is this: Adebayo’s going to have cold nights just like every player in this league, but his response needs to be this exact blueprint. Realizing he’s faster and stronger than most guys on the floor, so it’ll all generate from some drives to the basket in space. That dotted line jumper must remain his go-to with how automatic it is, but the way to revive it will begin with rim attempts time and time again.

#3: First half point guard play: a lopsided affair.

Kyle Lowry’s name has been coming up quite often for obvious reasons. His impact hasn’t been there, and the bare stats make his case an even tougher one. At halftime tonight, that held up. He didn’t record one single stat except a pair of turnovers, while Victor Oladipo was battling through inefficient play to make necessary plays. He ended up with 5 assists at half, mostly through his energy and ability to get to the rim consistently and dish out or dump off. I think this is a very possible adjustment come playoff time when it comes to shifting lineups, but for now, it’s pretty simple to say this stuff can’t happen. Yes, Oladipo can carry the play-making weight at times, but Lowry’s going to have to play *some* part in that as well. In the third quarter, he was much more engaged though. He knocked down two triples, and made some nice passes to get others involved in the offense. They need his fingerprints on things when he’s out there.

#4: Third quarter trends…

If you’ve watched Heat basketball, you’ve probably heard about the “turd quarter,” as the Heat always seem to let games get away from their control following the half. For example, that was the case last year as well, but Miami was 12th in the NBA in 3rd quarter offense. This season, the Heat are dead last in 3rd quarter offense…by a wide margin. There’s just something about drifting from game-plan or lacking energy in that span. The Heat actually found some flow early in the third tonight following an immediate 9-0 Cavs run, but then they let go again. The defense tailed off, and you just noticed Cleveland becoming the dictators on how they wanted to play compared to Miami in previous minutes. The third quarter trend has become a joke in many ways, but it’s really not. It’s an actual issue somewhere in the philosophy.

#5: Oh look at that, more clutch time…

Tie game midway through the fourth, a lineup of Vincent-Herro-Butler-Martin-Bam on the floor. Martin finds space for a baseline runner to put Miami up 2, followed by a Vincent spot-up triple to give Miami a 5 point lead. The role players stepping up was a good sign, as Bam was sluggish and Herro just started getting going shortly before. Cleveland responded with a Garland pull-up and a wide open Okoro 3 to even things right back up. It was clear at this time, defense would be the key to this one. Mitchell got to the line, going 1 for 2, as the Heat flowed down there end into a Bam jumper at that dotted line. Heat up 1. Butler now hunting for the Garland switch once again, gets to the basket, but misses. Bam gets the offensive rebound and puts back up. 3 point game. Following another stop, Butler now takes Mobley off the dribble, and fades into a middy jumper. Up 5 now. Second half of the season Jimmy Butler seems activated.

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