Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Lakers
The Miami Heat came out firing against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night, but barely squeaked it out in the end.
PJ Tucker came up big down the stretch with big play after big play, but Caleb Martin sealed it with a late steal and finish to close it out.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Jimmy Butler bounce back…with bounce passes.
Jimmy Butler has been a hot topic recently after his struggles down the stretch against Atlanta, but like he usually does, he bounced back. Not in the same scoring manner that he always comes back in, but with a complete passing display that gave him 10 assists well before the halftime buzzer even went off. How was he getting guys such good looks? Well, part of it is guys just hitting shots at a high level. But the main element was his overall half-court movement. Stagnant nights lead to rough shooting and rough passing, but when you flow with the off-ball movement shooter, great things happen. That’s what he did throughout that first half, and it’s something to keep in mind with the other big 3 counterparts. It allows Bam Adebayo to be aggressive Bam Adebayo, which he has been, and it leads to Kyle Lowry needing to step up as the off-ball scorer we know he will be come playoff time.
#2: Duncan Robinson playing his game.
When I say Duncan Robinson was playing his game, that doesn’t just mean he was hitting from deep. It’s about the process. As I’ve discussed on every one of these takeaway pieces, Robinson shooting without hesitation is the key. There have been too many occasions where he slightly hesitates in a fashion he hasn’t in past years, and we’re seeing a breakthrough at this point in time. Another point that must be made is that Robinson is 100% a drop killer. It’s something I’ve brought up about Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry when they face drop coverage with their mid-range pull-up, but Robinson elevates that even further when he’s hot. All it takes is one defender to eliminate for an open three to be found, and that’s what got him going early. And well, many potential playoff match-ups will see a similar look.
#3: Miami playing the “help defense” game all the way.
Usually I take a section of this piece to talk strictly defensive scheme, but something else was noted on that end. For starters, as expected, Erik Spoelstra went immediately to his coveted match-up move with his versatile front-court, placing PJ Tucker on LeBron James so Bam Adebayo can quickly switch onto him with Tucker dropping on Dwight Howard. But as we saw right after, that wasn’t the primary move. The change was that no matter who LeBron had on his back in the high post, that help defender would come swarming. Jimmy Butler kicked that off with constant gambles, and it leads to some swings, some help, and usually a three-point attempt from a below average shooter when looking at that Lakers’ starting lineup. Both Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin picked right up in Butler’s spot with swarming help, furthering the point that these guys aren’t just on-ball stoppers. They’re complete defensive threats.
#4: Once again, Dewayne Dedmon is the ultimate back-up big for this Heat team.
The funny thing about the Dewayne Dedmon-Omer Yurtseven conversation is that…it’s not a conversation. Like I’ve stated many times, Yurtseven did some outstanding things as the filler on this team, and will continue to evolve and play that role this season, but the back-up big role is Dedmon’s and it isn’t close. The reason for that is the best quality for a back-up big is consistency, and man is that an adjective for Dedmon. Every single night he plays, he gives you the same exact thing. Simple rolling, great hands, exceptional finishing. And well, he extends plays. When playing the role of small bursts, energy and play extension are two of the biggest non-statistical elements. Dedmon has definitely shown that he’ll bring the energy, but fighting down low for fouls is the equivalent of exciting Yurtseven offensive rebounds. And yet, probably a more reliable element in this role specifically.
#5: Confidence win for Miami.
Talking about confidence wins when the Heat beat a struggling Lakers team may seem odd, but they needed to follow up that rough ending against the Hawks. Not only that, but the ugly offensive showing needed some cleaning up, and it wasn’t about the team aspect. Much like tonight, Robinson, Martin, Vincent, Strus, and others came up big to give Miami a chance. But Butler’s struggles and the lack of Herro and Lowry held them back. Well, tonight, Butler and Adebayo proved yet again they can get up for hyped up games, and don’t need every last piece, just like Herro and Lowry didn’t for big games prior. This Heat team has found ways to win with many different combinations, but the back-end of the rotation has stayed familiar. And it should look familiar as they move into the playoffs as well.
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