The Miami Heat took down the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, as Kyle Lowry made his return.
Tyler Herro shined, Bam Adebayo controlled, and Jimmy Butler provided just enough to take the 4th quarter off.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: The early game Heat story: the bench mob carrying the way offensively.
Bam Adebayo got Miami going early with a quick six, and Duncan Robinson followed with the following nine. But other than that for the first 20 minutes of play, no other starter was providing that scoring juice. Yet as the bench group fully got themselves in, we saw things begin to click. Dewayne Dedmon’s solidity jumps off the screen, just through his ability to play such a simple game and receive constant relief points when other things breakdown. Max Strus had moments where he hit the three-point gaps to fire away, and took advantage. Gabe Vincent is an interesting one, since as much as we view him as a high level Kyle Lowry filler, his best minutes this season have actually come next to Lowry. And well, Tyler Herro looked like Tyler Herro when he was out there leading that group, which is the most important element on nights when it seems like the vets just kinda want to coast through.
#2: More big man lineups?
We’ve seen a minor trend that Erik Spoelstra has thrown our way over this recent stretch, and that’s big lineups with Adebayo at the 4. We saw it for longer stretches next to Chris Silva in a recent game, but does that really even count? Probably not. Anyway, as much as many Heat fans seem to be screaming about the insertion of Omer Yurtseven next to Bam, we got to see some more of Dedmon next to him. For one, we’ve actually seen more of that stretch ability from Dedmon at this level than Yurtseven, as he drilled another three tonight, but that’s besides the point. It almost feels like they’re just getting in these reps on nights they know they can have trial runs. Why would they want to get in these reps? Well, some teams like Cleveland could be a potential playoff match-up in the future, and they want to dictate pace at all times. They aren’t going to go to that long in that scenario, but it’ll be on their bingo card.
#3: The best version of Tyler Herro? Third option attacker.
Looking at the first half shot profile of Tyler Herro, it was a good amount of drives. More specifically, it was a lot of fast-break drives, but things were still being generated in the half-court. It’s something to monitor when evaluating the guys out there around him, since he’s not a primary attacker on a team, which we saw when both Butler and Lowry were out. Butler returns, Lowry still out, and Herro is in a secondary attacker role which still is an adjustment in many ways. It isn’t that free-flowing offensive role that he sees so often off the bench. But now as both Butler and Lowry are back, we see him shift back into his usual semi-driving role, which he undoubtedly is most comfortable in. It may not seem like a big shift, or at least one that jumps right off the screen, but it differs in terms of the plate sitting on Herro’s lap.
#4: The telling factor when it’s a Jimmy Butler type night.
It’s one thing to get hyped up for big games so that your skill-set can elevate. But it almost seems like a completely other thing for Jimmy Butler, since when he almost plays in the manner that he isn’t even trying, that’s when his game looks to be at its best. Starting from the end of the second quarter on, we saw that turn with him. Sealing down low for over the top post position for easy lay-ins. Getting to the line. And something that hasn’t been gone to enough recently: driving off the catch. It’s one of Butler’s most elite offensive elements, since simply there’s no one on this San Antonio roster that can handle a shoulder dropping Butler on the attack following a healthy head-start. Once again, that may seem like a minor tweak, but it’s a major shift when he starts getting to it in game 3 of a playoff series. And much of that head-start is adding back their primary ball-handler in Lowry.
#5: Kyle Lowry back. Heat offense is back.
Kyle Lowry made his return tonight vs San Antonio, and he seemed to burn the most calories hysterically laughing, since he looked to just be having a great time joking around with Jimmy Butler. But in terms of on the floor, Lowry doesn’t have to do a lot to impact the game. Actually, he doesn’t even need to have a made field goal to shift the offense. His presence alone changes the looks for all those around him, and simply, the other main 3 counterparts understood the assignment. Butler-Adebayo-Herro all controlled this game during different spurts, and that’s a good change of pace compared to the heavy reliance on role players as of late. It should be said that the Heat just did what they should have against this low tier Spurs team with missing pieces, but they needed one to get back on track. And they did that.
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