The Miami Heat faced the Boston Celtics once again on Friday night, except this was a bit more exciting.
Boston pulled away, Heat answered, which led to it going down to the final seconds, with Jaylen Brown sending it to OT on an insane shot late in the 4th.
The Heat pulled it out in OT though, behind the starters high level play through and through.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Tyler Herro entering shot creation mode early.
With the full starting lineup back together, there were some questions on who would be made priority, and who would step back. But well, we saw them all find their moments at different times. Tyler Herro scored 18 points in that first half, but it was more about how he was getting those shots. Quick pulls off handoffs or pick and rolls beyond the arc, isolation step backs in the mid-range, and a broad showing of footwork. While the passing has been on display recently, he found his scoring rhythm. To finish the second quarter, though, he twisted his ankle when landing, running right into the locker room before the half, leaving many projecting how they could mirror that same creation in the second half. But he ended up being just fine. From a basketball perspective, that type of shot making is a great change of pace for Miami’s shot profile, as showcased in that fourth quarter.
#2: The need for Bam Adebayo defensively.
Early in the second quarter, Bam Adebayo got his third foul, which was pretty much a theme for the game. After the Heat’s switching found some rhythm with Jimmy Butler back, they had to revert right back to the zone when Dewayne Dedmon entered after that foul trouble mentioned. Right on queue, the Celtics when on a three-point shooting run. Shortly after that, Dedmon then picked up his third foul, which led to Spoelstra looking to his bench quickly. Nikola Jovic time? Nope, Udonis Haslem got the call again. So the Celtics kept putting him in the action as he sat in drop pretty much at the level. We know Bam Adebayo’s impact on the defensive end, but it’s just hard to contain teams like this when he’s on the sideline watching for long periods of time.
#3: Jimmy Butler back means rim pressure is back.
As I said before, the starting lineup being back was a big focus, and I won’t sit here and act like it all roamed smoothly. They were taking turns many possessions to begin the game, while Jimmy Butler wasn’t a huge part of that involvement. He had to dust off some rust, but that didn’t take too long. In the second quarter, the offense found itself behind Herro’s shooting, and well Butler’s downhill attack. While the whistle wasn’t too favorable, he still absorbed contact and finished through traffic consistently, tapping into that bully ball play-style that he loves. He had 15 points at half on 7 of 10 shooting, which just shows he was earning his buckets. The takeaway here: this Heat group needs his rim pressure to get them out of cold streaks, which was showed early in this one.
#4: The Heat’s scoring stoppages appear again.
In the third quarter, the Heat had 1 made field goal from the 9:30 mark to a little over 3 minutes to go. Against this type of Celtics team, that just can’t happen. That one made basket was a Jimmy Butler drive and dish to Caleb Martin for a big dunk, yet every other possession just kept coming up empty. On the schematic front on why it was happening, it seemed like Bam’s foul trouble hurt the offense actually. He was so worried on his screens about picking up another offensive foul, which threw off the flow at times. That was a minor part of the issues, since the main chunk is just missing shots that actually weren’t terrible looks. The big picture takeaway: consistency, consistency, consistency. Since good teams usually won’t let you bounce back from a cold stretch that long. Somehow after that six minute span of non-existent offense, the Heat only trailed six heading into the fourth. Which I’ll discuss next…
#5: The fourth quarter…then OT.
While I just portrayed all of Miami’s issues in the third, they had a massive turnaround into the 4th. About 3 minutes in while trailing by 6 still, Tyler Herro hits a transition pull-up three. Boston comes down the court, as Bam Adebayo does his best Jimmy Butler impression by doubling backside getting the steal, tying it up on the other end with an and-1. A few plays later, Herro fights for his shot off the hand-off and knocks down another three, before Miami generates another steal and fastbreak dunk in the process. 5 point game all of a sudden. Boston answered back with some offense of their own behind Jaylen Brown, causing some back and forth over the next few minutes. The Heat’s switching took Tatum out of his game, while Highsmith made some incredible plays on the defensive end, as he played most of the fourth. Lowry’s career staple with that turnaround jumper made a couple appearances late to give Miami a necessary jolt as well. Fast forward to a tie game with 2 minutes left, the Heat run a Herro-Bam PnR, leading to a feed and Bam dunk down low. Grant Williams answers back a few plays later with a three to take the lead by 1, followed by a Bam attack off the roll for a trip to the line. Up 1, Tatum draws the Herro switch again. Off the attack, an incredible double by Highsmith forces the miss, as Butler hits a baseline fade after flipping dunker spots late in the clock. Tatum drives and dunks to cut the lead to 1 back on the other side, putting pressure on Miami to close it out, as Miami calls timeout to draw something up. Butler tries to get to the rim, it’s cut off, and shoots a tough fade on the wrap around. Bucket. Up 3, that’s game right? Wrong. An insane fading 3 from way out from Brown ties the game and sends it to OT. Wild. More back and forth continued, but a Bam Adebayo face-up and attack stood out most under a minute to go, getting to the line to take lead by 2. But Butler closes it out with a tough jumper. Heat win a tough one.