The Miami Heat took down the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night to improve to 4-1 on the season. Miami took care of business on both ends early, through scoring domination from Butler, Adebayo, and Herro, plus a continuation of that swarming defense against the league’s best offense.
Charlotte did make a run in the second half, but Miami held them off. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: The help Lowry is providing for Butler is different from the rest.
I’m not just going to discuss the help Kyle Lowry is providing to those around him after every night like this, but it’s actually quite necessary. We may be wondering what the difference is specifically in Jimmy Butler’s urge to score right out the gate each night, and the answer is simply Lowry. Why is that? Well, Butler had a lot on his plate last season. Go-to scorer, go-to facilitator, etc. Not that he can’t handle that, but handing out roles like their name tags to begin the year has allowed Lowry to be that passer who doesn’t have to worry about scoring, and vice versa for Butler. Jimmy may be a natural play-maker, but it not being needed from him allows him to be this strong attacker that we essentially haven’t seen since the bubble with the number of attempts.
#2: Tyler Herro continues to “Heat up,” allowing veterans to “cool down.”
Tyler Herro is another topic that we will probably end up discussing most nights. He entered the game off the bench per usual, and continued to put the ball in the basket at a high level per usual. Oh, and the key word: efficiently. 18 points in 14 first half minutes on 7 of 8 shooting is pretty good in my opinion. The three was falling, he was getting to the rim, and that mid-range/floater go-to is still his number one skill on that end. It isn’t just about the ball falling through the hoop, it’s that he’s getting to his spots at a completely different level. Step-backs, step-throughs, and no hesitance on the pull. As this scoring continued, Butler sat on the bench without the need for him to make eye contact with Spo to go back in. This is a new team. They can survive without him for stretches, which is huge for this squad, yet it wasn’t possible last season.
#3: Rebounding domination continues, uniting Spo and Riley’s play-styles.
I can’t say that I expected Miami to dominate the boards in this way this season, and I don’t think they expected it either. There are a couple reasons for it. 1) Guys like PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris may not have that extreme lengthy build, but that doesn’t always equal good rebounding. With that broad build, the box-outs are supreme, allowing the rebounding numbers to be spread out evenly with guards like Herro and Lowry crashing the boards. 2) Bam Adebayo is a clear-cut rebounding threat. It’s not that he wasn’t in the past, but the defensive schematics allow him to actually be in position for them more often this season. Since he’s not defending a guard on the perimeter every single play anymore, he finds himself down low on the box, awaiting the ball to fly off the rim. And well, that’s the formula.
#4: Miami’s role player run ends.
This may not be a stand-out takeaway, but it’s an interesting trend to keep track of. It’s not just about Miami’s role players basically carrying them against Brooklyn on Wednesday night, but there’s been one role player in every Heat win that stepped up when needed. Tonight, they didn’t have that big time game from a role player. To counter that, Miami just had Butler, Adebayo, and Herro rolling on the same night, which means the role players like Morris and Tucker can just do what they usually do on the floor aside from scoring. But if the shooting from Duncan Robinson and Lowry continues, they’re going to need somebody to shine if one of the main guys have an off night, and from what I’ve seen, I’m confident they will.
#5: At some point, shots will need to fall for Robinson-Lowry.
Kyle Lowry’s shot is going to need to fall sooner or later, since it hasn’t yet this season, but all of the other stuff he provides basically hides the poor shooting. Duncan Robinson, on the other hand, is right in that spotlight, due to the fact there were high expectations on him as one of the league’s premier three-point shooters. But to start the season, it’s been real ugly in that area. There’s still a certain level of focus on Robinson on the offensive end, but open shots are being generated for him quite regularly, and it’s almost as if he’s better with a hand in his face. Yet, with Herro’s name flying higher and higher up the scouting report, Robinson will have to get real comfortable in wide open spot-up threes. And aside from that recency bias, he clearly will.
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