The Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, expanding their win streak to 3 games. Bam Adebayo early on to Jimmy Butler mid-way through to Tyler Herro closing it out, while Herro’s fourth quarter explosion was very important for his near future. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: An early aggressive Bam Adebayo sighting.
Bam Adebayo came out in this game in a way that many people would want. Attacking the basket, trying to get to the line, and most importantly, capitalizing on the mid-range jumper. When playing against a drop scheme like this, that free throw jumper was available time and time again. Although Jimmy Butler’s passive ways early didn’t take advantage of that open space, Adebayo did, which ultimately allowed Duncan Robinson to flow in nicely per usual from the outside. Even smaller moments, like the second quarter poster dunk that was changed to a charge, shows the initiation he’s taking as the offensive focal point to play some “bully ball,” as Butler likes to call it.
#2: Getting a look at the Butler-Dedmon duo.
After Jimmy Butler missed the last two games and Dewayne Dedmon got significant minutes for the first time in that span, it meant tonight would be the first time we would see those two in action together. And as I talked about before the game, it didn’t disappoint, since the initial set when he checked in was a Butler-Dedmon PnR, leading to a Dedmon slam and a Butler assist. Miami has needed to stagger Butler and Adebayo’s minutes more and more lately, but adding a consistent back-up big for Butler to rely on is a much bigger deal than originally expected. Dedmon once again gave them some solid minutes, while showcasing his current shape due to the extra minutes Spoelstra is playing him game by game.
#3: Duncan Robinson improving decision making on the move.
It’s time to discuss the undercover areas of Duncan Robinson’s game, instead of talking about the obvious abilities with his shooting. I’ve also dove into his solid defensive rotations, the off-ball screening importance for their offense, and much more. But something that must be noted is his growing decisiveness when moving downhill. It wasn’t as important to bring up in the past since he didn’t get to the rim much, but that number has been increasing as time goes by. The 2 on 1’s created by PnR’s lead to Robinson choosing between that lob pass or laying it up with confidence, which he’s surprisingly been pretty good with around the rim. The reason this is so essential is due to him gaining that trust in his own abilities, which can spark even more growth in his game throughout the season.
#4: A defensive third quarter gets Miami back into this game.
The offense seemed like it was finally tailing off in the third quarter, just like it has in many spurts throughout this season. But during those stretches, it’s time to rely on your team’s identity, and that’s exactly what Miami did. Other than Adebayo’s continued dominance in this quarter, the headline was their defense locking in after the Spurs went on a run. The Spurs did not have a made field goal for about 5 minutes of basketball, which has a lot to do with the coaching side of things. Miami went into a soft press for many possessions, which then flowed into a 2-3 zone. An intriguing element to this zone tonight was that Robinson found himself at the top of it, which may seem to be an issue in the big picture, but it was the complete opposite tonight.
#5: A rough night for Trevor Ariza, but next man up mentality comes into play.
Trevor Ariza has found himself on most of these takeaway pieces since joining the team, but this was the first night that there were some down moments. He didn’t have the same offensive impact that he’s had lately, which is expected from a role, 3 and D player, but the issues actually came on the defensive end at times. Some blown rotations, lack of effort at times, and more seemed to jump off the screen, which is when KZ Okpala came into play. Okpala got minutes tonight due to Andre Iguodala being out, and the eye test said more about his performance than the stat-sheet. Shots weren’t falling throughout, but he really had some great defensive possessions and knocked down an important triple early in the fourth. It’s the motto of this team, and next man up was in full effect tonight.