The Miami Heat take down a banged up Orlando Magic squad on Friday night, as guys like Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro add another recovery day to the catalog.
The two-ways of last season, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, come up big as Miami coasts to another much needed win.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Oh hey Max Strus.
A 20 point second quarter was just Max Strus’ way of making Erik Spoelstra’s life much harder from a long term sense. But in all seriousness, it is something to keep track of with Strus, Caleb Martin, and Gabe Vincent switching off big time nights. Whenever we talk about Strus getting hot, the funny thing is his film looks so similar side-by-side. Why is that? Well, his simple methods keep it looking so identical. He’s not navigating as many screens as Duncan Robinson, or feeling out screens on the ball like a Kyle Lowry or Tyler Herro. He’s just either pulling up with a defender right in his face, or he utilizes his slight pump-fake and pull-back to get just enough space to fire. Max Strus is a simple guy, who plays with a simple style. And looking at some of the guys on this roster, simple is great as a plug-in guy.
#2: My nightly takeaway without Bam Adebayo: Dewayne Dedmon’s high level production.
Even after writing a Dewayne Dedmon piece early in the day, it still isn’t enough praise for this solid spot starter. At halftime, he had 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting, just continuing to take whatever the defense was giving him. For example, above the break transition threes. To dive into his three-point shot profile a bit more, it’s pretty clear the corners should be avoided with him. His comfort looks right at home from the top of the key, or right/left wing, almost as the anti-PJ Tucker from beyond the arc. Being able to be relied on from night to night in this way, after only playing 16 regular season games the season prior, just isn’t a normal occurrence. Dedmon has headlined the drop coverage phenomenon over the month of December for Miami as well, almost providing an unlocked door to Adebayo’s defensive role upon returning.
#3: My microscopic takeaway: Heat are zone providers, but being tested as zone consumers.
In games where the opposing team’s entire bench just got signed to some 10 days from the Lakeland Magic squad, microscopic views are necessary. The one I picked up on tonight was the way Miami handled the zone when it was thrown at them, since before Spo called the timeout, it surprised them the same way they do to others. Much of the issue had to with personnel at the time. KZ Okpala was immediately used as the middle man on the insert pass, which led to a turnaround mid-range fade-away with nobody on him. And down so many guys, the name I brought up was Max Strus. That’s a guy you can trust to hit that elbow turnaround or make the easy kick-out read, but overall, Spo getting some of these ATO and set-up reps against it is important. The zone is rising rapidly across the league.
#4: The Gabe Vincent game turns into the Gabe Vincent stretch.
This type of play from Gabe Vincent was definitely unexpected, but it was kind of inevitable. Shooters don’t just forget how to shoot. Slumps occur, tweaks are made, then in a matter of time, the shot returns. But the difference with Vincent is that he elevated every other part of his game throughout the struggles. He shifted his strengths in many ways, turning into a defensive first guard, with an ability to switch on and off the ball with ease. And like I said, now the three-point shot is here, and the confidence is the headliner. All that is needed for shooters like himself is a reference point, and that is what this week will be for Vincent as he moves forward. This isn’t a temporary thing. Of course he won’t always shoot the three-ball at this clip, but he’s officially found himself as a rotational NBA player.
#5: Heat rolling through the easy December stretch.
Yes it’s only 2 wins in a row for Miami, but this is just the beginning as an easy slate of games lie ahead: Detroit twice, Indiana, Orlando, Washington, San Antonio, and Houston. Jimmy Butler or not, that’s a lot of very winnable and favorable games for this Heat team as they enter the new year. Erik Spoelstra’s continued phrase throughout the season, “we have enough,” is in full effect at this time as well, since while many would question the Heat being “favored” in many of these games, it wasn’t expected that Vincent and Strus would go from two-ways to starter level products. After completing this next slate of games, they should be hovered right around that three seed, in a period that was supposed to be a state of survival.
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