Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cavs

The Miami Heat faced the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third time this season on Friday night, and things looked differently.

Not only that it ended with a win for Miami, but Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo matched up with them for the first time this year.

So, here are some things that stood out in this one…

#1: Heat offense stagnant early, but Tyler Herro breaks that statement solely.

Although the Heat found themselves with a 1 point lead at the half, 58-57, I wouldn’t say you walked away feeling comfortable about their offensive attack. You felt comfortable with Tyler Herro’s offensive attack. After Miami came out the gates with a 9-0 start, stuff began to tail off. PJ Tucker’s recent struggles mean that weak-side defender can loom around a bit more to force you into that skip, while there was a general lack of movement across the board. But Herro’s 3-level scoring boost keeps Miami in games nightly. Not only is he reading his defender at another level in terms of screen navigation, but he’s getting into the teeth of the defense in a way that makes up for Miami’s stagnant possessions. That’s major for this team, but it also raises an eyebrow that if Herro doesn’t provide that one game in a playoff series, what happens?

#2: Darius Garland foreshadows players Miami will see in playoffs, but Heat adjust well.

Watching Darius Garland in that first half, then looking at a stat sheet at that point may not seem like linking factors. It may have said he had 14 points, but he was also 2 for 8 at that point in the game. Translation: he was getting to the line in similar ways that Butler likes to do nightly. The reason I bring this up is that Garland being so slippery in open space provides such problems against teams like Miami that double and blitz. While it may look like they have him in a box, his ability to turn corners at abnormal speeds can counter Miami’s rotation reliance rather quickly. Looking forward, there are teams like Boston or Chicago that have similar players in that sense. It just comes down to backing out of that coverage before it’s too late, which is exactly what Miami did in the third. They used it much more situationally, which threw off the Cavs offense for a decent stretch, triggering a 12-0 run for Miami.

#3: A minor, yet major, first half reflection: a lack of shot attempts from select few.

We’ve had moments in the season where we constantly discuss the lack of aggression from Heat center Bam Adebayo. The lack of taking advantage of opportunities is just as bad as an inefficient night, which caused plenty of discussions. Yet when reflecting back at halftime, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry combined for the same amount of shot attempts in the first 24 minutes as Dewayne Dedmon. That can’t be the case. Butler was at least able to counter some of that by getting to the line, but that length still was clearly deterring his strong attacks. But more importantly, the scoring factor of Lowry’s game is going to need to be seen more often. His structure in the offense is definitely noted, but there are too many times where the pass is forced instead of trusting his skill. With as many PnR’s as he runs, the pocket pass just can’t be the outcome in every one, which will need to be the post-season tweak.

#4: Aggressive Bam, patient Bam, interior Bam.

When looking at this match-up with the Cavs, there were two components that were in question: Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Why? Well, neither of them have matched up with this team so far this season, while obviously Cleveland is without Jarrett Allen on the other side. That said, Bam Adebayo was decently aggressive throughout this game, but it doesn’t end there. Schematically, it was a nice change of pace to see him catching, posting, and sealing in the interior, which said that his initial touches they wanted much lower than normal. With that, it’s one thing to highlight aggression, since that always feels linked to quick scoring bursts, but that wasn’t how he was doing it. He was patient on the catch, worked his pump-fake, then rose up with aggression for plenty of buckets around the rim. That was a third quarter synopsis, since he was a big reason they were able to make that run.


#5: A game of runs. A team of runs.

We often hear about how the game of basketball is a game of runs, but there are teams within that bracket that fit the description much better. The Miami Heat this season have shown to be one of them, as many of their bench pieces are offensive sparks that can create runs. But as much as the offense may stand out when seeing a 25-6 run, the defense is equally as important to hold the opponent to 6 points over an extended stretch. And that’s the theme of this Heat team. Yes, Herro’s pull up triples and side step crowd explosions may seem crucial, but back to back possessions of Jimmy Butler steals on the perimeter for transition dunks transcends that. The playoffs may be a half-court game for sure, but that only makes this point more valuable for this team defensively. The offense may have a low floor in certain droughts, but the defense has as high of a floor as it gets.


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