The Miami Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs, and man did it fade far away from expectations.
A close game was not expected whatsoever, but some big performances came out of it as Miami closed it out late.
Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro were big, but Bam Adebayo was the storyline as he completely took over this game on both ends.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Rough beginnings for starting group yet again.
There’s been a trend at the start of games recently for this Heat team, and it’s something to keep track of. A 10-0 start for the Knicks occurred on Friday night, and a 10-2 run for the Spurs on Saturday night followed that right up. Except this time around, the opposing team just kept piling it on, putting Miami in an awkward position. They were switching absolutely everything on and off the ball, which led to plenty of miscues for a copy and pasted free lane for San Antonio’s offense. Now, looking forward, it definitely is something to take note of. It almost feels like they’re looking around for that Tyler Herro spark to save them, which he kind of did again in this one as soon as he entered. They may have put up 40 in the first, but the starting group’s defense isn’t the worry. Instead, it’s the stagnant and lost looking offense that appears way too often than it should.
#2: Jimmy Butler’s first half offensive takeover.
There were some ugly things offensively for Miami early on, as I mentioned, but Jimmy Butler mitigated pretty much all of it. For starters, he kicked off his scoring display with quite the route on the low block. And it wasn’t like he was getting a smaller match-up so he went to it, because that really wasn’t the case. He brought a plethora of moves down there, and had some great touch around the rim whenever he got the chance. Secondly, it was another display of clock work in terms of getting to the free throw line. Strong attacks one-on-one, side pick and rolls to perfection, etc. He simply took-over on that end for Miami to race their way back in it, and that quickly leads into other things. After that hot start, we see them go into a Duncan Robinson back screen for Butler, as Duncan raises up for a potential DHO with Bam Adebayo. The thing is that wasn’t the first option. The only reason Robinson got that three off was the entire Spurs defense collapsed at the thought of a wide open Butler cut. We often discuss Robinson’s gravity, but Butler’s gravity is right there with him in an opposite fashion.
#3: Another Bam Adebayo DPOY case?
Watching Bam Adebayo in that second quarter specifically, some takeaways were clear. For one, the things Adebayo was doing to finish off that second quarter not only spearheaded Miami’s first half come-back, but a portrayed the pure dominance he can provide on that end. We saw the individual stuff at times, but nothing stands out to me more than when Adebayo is lined up on that weak-side dunker spot, as the ball-handler simultaneously comes steamrolling down the lane on the attack. For about three possessions in a row, it either ended in a Bam block, or him just mucking things up enough to lead to an awful shot attempt. As much as I discuss Butler’s ability to take over offensively, it’s equally impressive to see what Bam did on the defensive end. While it must be stated, his offensive turnaround after the rough start was crucial in the Heat’s comeback, as we saw him continuing to both attack and run the floor with great pace.
#4: One minor evaluation: Tyler Herro disguising his floater/lob pass.
In many of my post-game takeaway pieces, I like to take one section to highlight a minor piece of the game that may hold high importance moving forward. And well, that one tonight involves a very active Tyler Herro inside the lane. Something he has gotten to a ton over the last two nights is his floater out of the normal pick and roll, but there’s an interesting twist to that. One of the major elements to a player’s floater game is how similar it may look to a lob pass when your big is running right alongside you on a 2-on-1. With that said, Herro seems to have really improved recently in that category. And for a player who goes to it as frequently as him, that is quite the addition moving forward if he can master it even further. His lob passes have been a focus in general to clean up a bit, and that definitely will do the job.
#5: Bam Adebayo again? Yes, Bam Adebayo again.
I felt it was necessary to devote an entire section to the greatness of Bam Adebayo defensively, and more specifically the impact he had in that second quarter, but I need to address some more, because this wasn’t a one-sided affair. Actually, it was quite the opposite. To think that he started this game out a bit non-aggressive and inefficient is just wild. He started taking that face-up on the Spurs rotating bigs time and time again, realizing they couldn’t stay in front of him. That spiraled into an increase in pace, which led to easy basket after easy basket with about 19 seconds left on that shot clock. And of course, he still dominated as a roller. Kyle Lowry’s double digit assists deserve major credit, but he was getting the ball in the gaps and just going. When he’s attacking the rim like that and making defenders pay for that deep drop with big time slams, it’s something to discuss. Bam Adebayo was absolutely elite in this one.
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