The Miami Heat got a much needed win over the Spurs on Wednesday night, after a bunch of good individual performances. Jimmy Butler got some buckets late in the fourth quarter to sustain the lead, which has been one of their issues as of late. So, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: The first half offensive ups and downs continue, and one reason for that was clear.
The first takeaway after these games have basically been locked into the overall offensive evaluation, but tonight was just more of those inconsistencies. Early in the first quarter, everything was clicking, while things went in the other direction to finish the first and begin the second quarter. The obvious reason for that is the bench drop-off, due to the fact that Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo having to sit on the bench together leads to rough offensive stretches. Now, another element to this that isn’t discussed enough is Duncan Robinson. Not that things go south when he’s off the floor, but actually when he re-enters. He just doesn’t have the same involvement as he does to begin the first quarter or second half, and that may have a lot to do with defensive adjustments. But either way, Robinson’s second stint in the first half can’t consist of running around the perimeter, while Goran Dragic kick-outs to Trevor Ariza is the result.
#2: The Dewayne Dedmon pick-up was an absolute steal.
Although I’m diving into specifics from this game, my evaluation of Dewayne Dedmon was much more big picture: It was an absolute steal. He has fit their need to perfection, while Adebayo relief minutes were a real issue early in the season. Tonight, though, he made an offensive impact as a roller well known, especially with the unexpected connection he has with Butler. He’s very patient when waiting to receive the ball as the wings are lurking, and he shows to have much more bounce to him than originally expected. This performance tonight may have been sparked from his past with the San Antonio Spurs, but either way, these moments continue to foreshadow the things he can do for this team in a playoff series, especially when the team is clicking.
#3: Bam Adebayo’s offensive question marks slowly fading.
There aren’t many question marks next to Adebayo’s game other than the amount of shots he takes, but there are many areas of his game that are truly being polished up. For one, as Butler said a few games ago, the mid-range jumper is all good, but his attacking is the real asset, also known as bully ball. Well, that is what translates to the free throw line, as Adebayo went to the charity stripe 5 times in the first half, while the only other player was Butler with one free throw attempt. Another element of his game involves the low-post play, which clearly isn’t something he is extremely comfortable with. He showed some increased comfort in that area when finding a smaller defender on him, and even utilizing the occasional post hook, leading to an additional weapon in his offensive package. If he continues to round out those type of things in his game, there really will be only one question about his game, which would be the amount of shot attempts he has on any given night.
#4: Kendrick Nunn showcasing his greatest skill: Scoring.
I’ve dove into Kendrick Nunn’s game a lot lately, highlighting his evolving decision making abilities, but it’s time to discuss the one element that has consistently been on the top of the list. He truly doesn’t get enough credit for the overall growth in his game scoring the ball, since he’s scoring in facets that he once wasn’t capable of doing. I’ve touched on his catch and shoot abilities from beyond the arc, but he’s taken the mid-range control to another level this season. Against drop coverage, as I mentioned before the game, it basically signals for a Nunn game where he puts the ball in the basket all night, and that’s exactly what he did by sparking offense in different stretches when they struggled.
#5: Goran Dragic having his moments. Dragic-like moments.
When constantly discussing Goran Dragic’s age after his poor games, let’s talk about it after a good performance. An aging Dragic must flow right into an effective three-point shooter. He won’t be able to get to the rim at the same rate that he once did, even though he got there frequently tonight, but that outside shot is something he can rely on. When looking at Nunn, as discussed prior, he’s played a good amount of minutes alongside Dragic this season, which wasn’t the greatest combo last season. A big reason for that is Nunn’s off-ball growth, since they currently have an offensive rating of 110 when they share the floor. Either way, Dragic taking over at times in the fourth quarter is a great thing to see if you’re the Miami Heat, since as he said earlier today, “This is already the playoffs for us.”