Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

The Miami Heat kicked off an important road trip in Atlanta, and put together some pretty good basketball without Jimmy Butler.

That was headlined by Bam Adebayo yet again, while Caleb Martin shined right behind him.

So here are some takeaways from this win…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s scoring growing, while the side quests remain the same.

After a 38 point night against the Washington Wizards for Bam Adebayo, he came out firing yet again. His consistent goal is to hunt for his spot in the middle of the floor, as he can rise over the top for the jumper. They were also running sets for him out of the mid-post, while embodying the grab and go system so he can operate in transition. The scoring game is growing. But as I said in the headline, the other stuff isn’t declining. The amount of stuff on his plate is insane to watch: covering up everything at the bottom of the zone when the point of attack gets blown by, finding a body to box-out to clean up the boards, and running down the floor to be the one and only action hub as his constant screening is necessary. Yet with all of that said, he didn’t seem to be slowed down in any area. The Bam Adebayo surge is a good thing to see.

#2: Max Strus back, Max Strus comes out as only source of perimeter punch.

While Adebayo was the main punch in an all-around sense, Max Strus was the initial provider on the perimeter. As the offense tries to find themselves without Jimmy Butler, the one thing that’s clear is they need to shoot the ball well from the outside, which just hasn’t been the case. The connecting factor, though, to outside shooting is paint touches, which Miami made a priority early. Strus hit two threes to begin the game off a Kyle Lowry drive and Caleb Martin attack. Aside from the pick and roll spam or occasional Adebayo hub in mid-post, this is the only other scoring supplier. After Strus missed some time, the Heat are very fortunate that he came back firing away in this sense, since if there’s one thing about Strus, it’s that he can get shots up no matter the coverage, time stamp, etc. When it comes to positives in that first half, we stop after these two guys.

#3: A lineup for Miami sums certain things up…

Dru Smith-Strus-Haywood Highsmith-Jamal Cain-Dewayne Dedmon. That was a lineup for an extended period early in this game, which pretty much gives us some perspective on where the Heat stand on bodies. I often write about the individual struggles or positives from these guys, but when watching them all out there together, there’s not much to overly analyze. There’s just not much expectation for good stuff to be taken from it. Dedmon actually gave some good minutes for a stretch and these guys got stops, but as you would expect, they have limitations. The Hawks expanded a lead before the starters came back in, but I just can’t sit here and put the focus on a bunch of undrafted guys who were playing in Sioux Falls anywhere from a few months ago to a few weeks ago. At the half, they needed more from their starting back-court to push them forward, so the bench mob’s job can be battling to stay neutral.

#4: Tyler Herro altering the focus in the 3rd.

With Adebayo’s hot start in the first half, they needed to find a way to 1) keep him involved in the second half and 2) have it come without him having to create it all himself. And well, the answer to that riddle is Tyler Herro. As I’ve talked into the ground for some time, the Herro-Bam PnR is the best action on this Heat team. The Heat used a variation of that in the 3rd quarter, and didn’t go away from it. Lowry creating at the top of the offense, Adebayo setting a pindown for Herro, which flows into a curl for Herro and Bam to operate in a 2-on-1. Dribble, lob, dunk. The next time down, we see the same exact set-up. The result: dribble, lob, dunk. Fast forward a few plays later, they run it for a third time, and the Hawks didn’t adjust. The only change was his lob ended up being a goal-tend instead of a converted alley-oop. The beginning of the 3rd quarter was the same action being spammed over and over and over, before the ball movement took the offensive steering wheel the rest of the way. Herro finished with the first triple double of his career.

#5: Caleb Martin’s 4th quarter counter.

The Hawks wanted Caleb Martin to settle for the catch and shoot three in the half-court all night, but no matter the possession, he just would not fall into the trap. Pause, look, attack. His paint touches were crucial, and off-ball cuts provided very nice boosts through the first three quarters. And then the start of the 4th quarter hit. He continues to be a dominant transition player for this team, since he’s patient enough to wait for his fast-break defender to settle on him. Once he can go 1-on-1, he makes that euro step and he’s basically got you right where he wants. He’s an athlete, just like Bam Adebayo, so they’re treating them like athletes. The other element of Martin’s play that has stood out is his creation, not only for himself but for others. The handle is tighter, the shiftiness is there, and don’t get me started on the way he attacks his defenders front foot. Martin’s ascension this season has been one of the true bright spots.

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