The Miami Heat took down the New York Knicks at home in comfortable fashion. Pure offensive and defensive control from the tip-off to the final buzzer.
Tyler Herro returned, Jimmy Butler stayed steady, and PJ Tucker and Duncan Robinson provided the needed boost.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Duncan Robinson killing the Knicks early in ways we’ve seen, PJ Tucker in ways we haven’t.
The Miami Heat came out absolutely firing to start this game, and it was generated by two people in that span. Duncan Robinson had a very favorable match-up with this Knicks defense, since you ultimately feel much more comfortable with him against that deep drop. The screener just needs to take out one defender, leading to wide open looks immediately, before they begin to blitz out a bit later. PJ Tucker, on the other hand, goes on offensive runs in an unexpected manner, since well, “offensive runs” and PJ Tucker never used to mix. Jimmy Butler did a great job of drawing bodies on drives and finding the corner shooter on the kick-out, which Tucker was the result back-to-back early in the first. Then once unexpected corner gravity occurs, that floater and oddly amazing finishing enters.
#2: Tyler Herro is back…like he never left.
Tyler Herro entered the health and safety protocols about a week ago, but he made his return in this one. But while Robinson exploited things that made sense on paper, Herro went in a different direction. All indicators were that Herro would totally exploit the mid-range pull-up against that drop, but he utilized the other two elements of his game instead early. The three was falling, but more important, his downhill presence was something to note. Initiating contact on pick and roll drives while finishing in traffic is quite the consistent addition for his offensive game at this point. But just overall seeing him control the game in full bench lineups, while handling and creating for himself at an extremely high level, are the most essential parts about this one. When his creation looks like this to score, it changes the offensive trajectory of this team.
#3: Miami’s defensive excellence early on was expected on paper.
Much like I said Robinson had a visible advantage on paper, the Miami Heat’s entire defense had a favorable match-up. After seeing the Knicks immediate reaction when things go down, they completely spam strong side Julius Randle reps for him to try and score or create. But the Heat love that type of play-style since they can speed you up right out the gate. When switching the way they have, the plan was to fully double Randle in that high post upon any insertion, much like they did against LeBron James a few nights ago. And when he begins to make the quick reads, it’s all about rotating on the back-side at a high level, which they did for some time. But minor tweaks had to be made, such as leaving less of a gap between the weak-side corner defender and the corner shooter. And well, those adjustments are what make this defense so scary.
#4: Another night of pure Jimmy Butler all around control.
Jimmy Butler followed up a game where he finished with a triple double in a pure passing clinic, by coming right back around the next game for another display of pure all around control. For one, to touch on a few points from before, he’s the beneficiary for the hard doubles on the high post guy, since frankly, that’s his defensive home. He also had some moments of very nice reads, specifically on drive and kicks, but the story was his scoring. A high scoring night from Butler is great, but a high scoring efficient night from Butler is what takes him up a notch. He was finishing at a high level around the rim, which could go either way at times, and just really utilized a ton of angles to his advantage throughout. Butler may be evaluated under a microscope at times, but man can he control a game like this with plain ease, making the Kyle Lowry return even more intriguing.
#5: This Heat team’s depth isn’t just when guys go down. It’s a nightly event.
Whenever you watch this Heat team. Whenever you hear people talk about this Heat team. Whenever you look at the roster of this Heat team. There’s a similar theme that always pops out first when looking for adjectives: depth. Guys go down, others step up, and it’s just nothing new since it’s a “next man up” mentality. But that description isn’t as simple as just having back-up plans when guys are out or aren’t performing to their standards. More importantly, this is a team that can hurt you with so many different groups on a night to night basis. What I mean by that is, as we saw tonight, it was Butler-Herro-Robinson-Tucker who led the way offensively. But over this past week, Vincent-Strus-Martin-Adebayo have all had “game-high” moments as well. That’s what makes this group so scary, and as we continue to say, they still aren’t full. Kyle Lowry and Victor Oladipo are still looming in different manners.
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