The Miami Heat had their ups and downs in LA against the Clippers, but they were able to pull it out in the end.
Another massive night for Bam Adebayo, plus major contributions from Victor Oladipo on both ends.
Here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: The Miami Heat’s first half: a preview of what could be.
Before getting into the individual performances in this game, including Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each adding 16 first half points, the Heat’s general flow looked to be at a season high. It was far from one-sided basketball. They were forcing turnovers at a high level on the defensive end, which landed at 8 in the first half, but it was clear they were just feeding off their offensive rhythm. They found a base that they stuck with, but the unselfishness and impact of role players led into a ball movement flurry. Rim pressure from Victor Oladipo, mid-range excellence from Bam Adebayo, and three point land pull-ups from Tyler Herro. That’s a hard formula to guard when they’re all clicking.
#2: Bam Adebayo: the tone setter, the rhythm finder.
Although I touched on the Heat’s early offensive success in a general sense, Bam Adebayo was the main reason for them finding that scoring success. The last time he faced the Clippers back in Miami, they just kept sending doubles at him in that mid-post, as he still glided to 31 points. The adjustment on the Clippers side was to send that double at Jimmy Butler instead. That allowed Bam to have a one-on-one matchup at the elbow every possession, just working his face-up game against Zubac. The jumper was falling, his touch around the rim was there, and well, the aggression was surging. He’s simply a hard player to stop when he enters this mode, and it just opens up the offense to new levels.
#3: Orlando Robinson finding his place.
After talking about Bam’s play, that usually is followed by a complete falloff when he heads to the bench and Dewayne Dedmon enters. The offensive flow stalls out, and the backup big man gets picked on in drop time and time again. Not tonight. One of the main keys to that strong first half was the big time Bam stretch was followed by the team winning the Orlando Robinson minutes. He was an offensive rebounding magnet, and is never afraid to rise backup for quick and easy put-backs. He’s also extremely active in the handoff and screening region, which is constant in a Heat half-court offense. When looking for true promising signs, the recent play of Robinson provides real hope that they indeed do have an option in the front-court to be an innings eater. A good one at that.
#4: Oh yeah, the third quarter trend returns in 2023.
After all I discussed about Miami finding themselves on both ends in that first half, the opposite was showcased to open up the third quarter. They all of a sudden couldn’t generate a string of stops as Paul George found his rhythm in isolation, but the offensive stuff is still the question mark. All the ball movement, creative actions, and extra flow into not being able to buy a bucket. To be honest, I’d have to rewatch many of these possessions to give my full outlook, but on first hand this season, “settling” always seems to be my first description in these instances. Once the Heat see a bunch of shots fall, it always feels like they don’t work as hard to get easier looks. There’s just a level of belief that the same tough shots will continue to fall. Consistency is the primary theme in terms of issues, but the settling on the offensive end is a close second.
#5: Another late-game walkthrough…
After the Heat led by 20 early in this game, they only led 96-95 halfway through the fourth quarter. As the Heat called timeout, I immediately said on Twitter the only way to pull away would be to get Jimmy Butler to create for himself consistently down the stretch, after he had a quiet game. Right out of that timeout, they ran an action for him to catch and attack, getting him to the free throw line. After a few defensive possessions of forcing some turnovers, Herro came to the rescue with a leaning right wing triple late in the shot clock to put them up 6. Then the next possession, a Butler miss led to a big time put-back slam from Adebayo to really give Miami some late energy. After some more back and forth, Oladipo misses a three, the Clippers push, and he finds a way to get in position to draw the charge. Herro feeds off that with a mid-range pull-up out of the high PnR. To really capitalize on the next offensive possession, Herro draws two at the top of the play, zips it to Bam in the middle of the floor, who rises up for the easy dunk. Adebayo just kept coming up big, no matter the circumstance or action ran.