The Miami Heat pull off an incredible comeback on the Boston Celtics behind a major Bam Adebayo night.
Haywood Highsmith triggered it all with his high level two way play.
#1: The Heat’s defensive start: Jayson Tatum cooking and role players countering.
My question to begin this game was how they would treat Jayson Tatum. Would it look like the game against Luka Doncic and the Mavs? Well, not really. The Heat were allowing him to operate one-on-one on switches pretty freely, as he went at both Tyler Herro and Max Strus consistently to kick off the game. He kept getting two feet in the lane for buckets, but then the Heat shifted. They began getting into their blitzing bag which I compare to the Doncic plan, but the issue is Jimmy Butler is a big piece of the two on the ball game-plan. Tatum would throw over a wild skip pass or simple pocket pass, as the back-line defenders simply lacked size. It opened up runways leading into over-help. The defensive stuff was a bit all over the place to start against that Tatum constant.
#2: Max Strus starts things off with 3 early triples, but then…
To kick things off, there were good signs in the Max Strus shooting department. He got some good looks early off a ton of slip screens, as they were spamming specific off-ball actions to get him free, leading to those three first quarter triples. All were assisted by Kyle Lowry, showing that it was similar sets. Either way, the others tailed off quickly. Taking away Strus’ start, the rest of the group was shooting 21% from beyond the arc in that first half. Lowry, Herro, and Oladipo were 0 for 11 from deep. A simple recap: yikes. A deeper recap: every shot just kept coming up short, which is odd since the other team was the one playing on the back-end of a back to back. This isn’t a bad stretch of shooting at this point. It’s who they are, and it’s time to adjust in some different areas.
#3: Free throw marathon, but something stuck out in the second quarter for the Heat.
With over seven minutes to go in the second quarter, the Miami Heat were in the bonus. There were a total of 23 fouls and 30 free throw attempts in the first 24 minutes of basketball, clearly showing the theme of this game to start. With that said regarding the Heat’s long period of being in the bonus, one thing should’ve been clear for the offensive structure: attack the rim. If Jimmy Butler was playing, he would’ve been having a field day for the next portion of time, but obviously he was out. From that point, Miami shot 6 straight threes over the next few minutes, all missing. For further context, they missed 14 of their last 16 shot attempts prior to the half. When an opportunity presents itself to potentially get some easy ones, while the outside shooting is going in the opposite direction, you should definitely try and capitalize. That’s what ultimately led to the Celtics branching out to an 8 point lead at half. Small thing, but crucial.
#4: Well, Bam Adebayo found his rhythm.
After an uneven start for Bam Adebayo as well, he found it in the third. He may have been the only one to find it in the third actually. They got him to his spots, which seemed like the only reasonable thing to do. Tyler Herro was extremely off on the offensive end, Kyle Lowry couldn’t hit a triple, and it took Victor Oladipo until the final minutes of the third to find his shot for a moment. As for Bam, they just kept feeding him on that short roll. Just let him catch at that dotted line or the elbow, and live with that result. That result was a positive one for a good bit, as he soared to 21 points through the first 3 quarters, which felt like an uphill climb after the way he came out. Bam Adebayo has been this team’s rock when it comes to consistency, which is a very good sign for him. And well, a worse sign for others.
#5: Late game recap: Haywood Highsmith sparks, Bam Adebayo dominates.
Haywood Highsmith deserves a ton of individual credit tonight. At the end of the third, I said he was their second best player tonight. Then he proved that to another degree with 3 triples in the first 6 minutes of the fourth. He set the tone throughout defensively, possibly being his best all-around game. Then Bam capitalized on the energy with back to back buckets at the rim. Tie game at 87 a piece. Bam hits another short roll jumper to give Miami a 2 point edge, before Herro flows into a rhythm three to extend the lead to 5. He hit the biggest one of the night up to that point. Tatum answers shortly after with an and-1 down the middle of the lane, cutting it back to a two point game. Heat walk back down the floor into a Herro-Bam PnR, Herro lobs it up, and Bam almost catalogs a nice poster barring the foul call. He follows that up a bit later with an insane swat at the rim, showing it all off. Yet, Grant Williams answers for the tie. Biggest play of the game, the Celtics blitz Herro, he finds Bam, and he turns into another big time jumper. 30 burger. Heat blitz Tatum back into a turnover. Game-time.