The Miami Heat face the Pacers in Indiana on Monday night, and it was a typical game in this building.
An absolutely awful offensive showing by both parties, but Miami ended up coming away with the win.
#1: Tyler Herro’s early passing display.
There was a bit of a trend early in this game for the Heat, and it all basically started with Tyler Herro orchestrating on the floor. Looking back to a recent hot stretch for the Heat, there were two common threads: 1) Bam’s offensive aggression and scoring (which I will get to later) and 2) Herro taking control as play-maker. He had 20 assists over a two game span, looking like the Heat found their base. They got back to that tonight, as he accumulated 5 assists in the first half, while 3 of those 5 occurred out of the Herro-Bam PnR. They’ve also found a variation where Butler roams baseline in timely spots following the Herro-Bam PnR. Butler got to the line and some easy points out of that exact set. When they’re moving like this, it’s hard to stop. But the issue is that they aren’t always doing this…
#2: The Heat’s need for sustainability across the board.
While I highlight what the Heat were doing right, kicking them out to a 19 point lead at one point in the second quarter, it somehow only resulted in a 5 point lead at half. Why is that? Well, sustainability and consistency are the two descriptive words this Heat team just doesn’t have. In one aspect, they cannot sustain things from a game to game basis, even when it seems they turn the corner. But in a much thinner lens, they don’t obtain consistency on a possession by possession basis. They start to click and move, then those same looks aren’t being generated. Early in this game they leaned heavily in paint points and looks around the basket, then quickly fell into Indiana’s hands by 3 point firing after gathering the big lead. They can’t stray from game-plan with this roster. They simply can’t afford that.
#3: Well, Bam Adebayo was having his way to begin.
Before putting a pin in that first half run, I do want to highlight what we saw from Bam Adebayo. While that Herro passing made an appearance, they guy he was mainly passing to was Adebayo. He was getting that go-to mid-range fade to fall, and he looked super confident in most of his pull-up looks off pure shot creation. But ideally, his shots coming off assists are the way to truly open up his shot profile. After some easy ones out of the pick and roll to start, he became the isolation hub at different points as well. Bam was also cleaning up the boards pretty well with 12 first half boards, simultaneously doing a great job stopping Tyrese Haliburton off full-out switching. Bam leading the way is a great blueprint, but he wasn’t actually leading *anybody,* since nobody could follow behind him.
#4: The Heat just cannot shoot efficiently.
We often talk about things X’s and O’s wise with this Heat teams. Other times we talk about things big picture. But sometimes the obvious just needs to be stated: this Heat team went from the best 3 point shooting team in basketball last year to a bottom 10 team this season. Why is that? Well the answer isn’t just “losing PJ Tucker.” There are a couple elements that are primarily headlined by many players regressing all at once. I asked Jimmy Butler about this issue a few nights ago, which he said, “We’re always trying to get 40+, so we gotta figure out a way to get our shooters a couple more.” That’s great in theory, but full-on relying on the Heat’s “shooters” at time moment in time won’t get them out of this mess. But it’s seriously a wild development to see this shooting fall off like *this.
#5: Oh wait, is that another clutch game?
In the year 2022, we were watching a version of a 1978 basketball game right in front of our very eyes. 4 and a half minutes to go, the Heat lead 74-73. Not 4 minutes to go in the half, but in the game. After generating some more stops, which was ultimately the theme of the night, a Butler drive and kick to Lowry in that deep corner put them up by 4. Side note: while the topic of the night is that the Heat were absolutely awful as an offensive team, it should also be discussed that they limited the Pacers to a similar mark. How did they do that? Well, I give a lot of the credit to Bam Adebayo. They switched everything tonight, basically allowing Myles Turner the interior advantage. Yet they were not allowing Haliburton to be comfortable. Adebayo just completely eliminated him at the head of the offense. But ultimately, late in this game, Butler entered late-game takeover mode to graze Miami past Indiana. That’s the main reason the last play against the Spurs got attention, since getting Butler the ball late is always the answer.