Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over the Kings

The Miami Heat had their roughest week of the season by far this week, but took care of business on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings. Some changes were made, the top guys elevated, and Miami got back in some type of a rhythm.

So, here are some of my primary evaluations from this one…

#1: The rotation changes in this one for the Heat.

Thirty minutes prior to the game, it was announced that Max Strus would start over Duncan Robinson, which raised an eyebrow. Other than some reasoning that involves allowing the starters to figure stuff out together, it was clear Spoelstra wanted some different looks and ultimately flow into a new look rotation. Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson came off the bench with the usual Tyler Herro and Dewayne Dedmon combo, which left Victor Oladipo and Markieff Morris out of the mix. To look even further, I don’t believe this will be the end game nine man rotation. Caleb Martin needs to play off the bench, meaning it all comes down to two players: who gets the final starting spot? Duncan Robinson or Max Strus.

#2: Another change that could be even more important: substitution patterns.

When looking at Miami’s usual substitution pattern, Jimmy Butler stays in the game to start as Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry exit, allowing him to run with Tyler Herro and the second unit. Tonight, though, Butler exited first. For Herro. That shift makes things look a lot cleaner for a few reasons. It means Herro and Adebayo can get a longer look together early on, plus it’s one of the lineups that allows Tucker at the 4 to fit in well. But more importantly, it means that Butler re-entering is him at the 4 with shooters, instead of him at the 3 next to Tucker and Dedmon. Certain patterns can change, but the point is more about zooming out. This team has revolved things around the depth all season, but now it’s time to make the changes that benefit the top four guys on the roster. That’s how they excel in the post-season.

#3: The constant question: how to maximize Butler and Adebayo offensively?

I’ve talked a lot about rotations and stuff of those sorts to start this piece, but one play kind of said a lot about how to maximize Butler and Bam together at times. Tyler Herro sets up the offense on the right wing, as two shooters line up on the weak-side, and Butler and Adebayo begin their action. As both are under the goal, Bam screens down for Butler to rise up, as Herro hits him in stride. But as I explained, this down screen wasn’t the usual look. The lower you screen for two guys of this caliber, the harder it is for a defense to manipulate. They can’t just recover by going under a screen, since there’s no room for any of that. Butler rises up for the and-1, which signifies a lot about how they can be used, beginning with Butler playing at the 4. Putting 3 shooters around them is always the way.

#4: Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry controlling.

To carry on the theme of how things were being handled offensively for Miami, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro seemed to take total control of the handling duties for their half-court sets. Part of that ties into Herro entering for Butler, but this was a Spo change as he had to regroup after the 4 game losing streak. As the third quarter came to a close, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro had 6 assists a piece, and both of them had enough moments. Well, Herro had plenty at least. Watching him play with his food against this Kings’ defense was a sight, as he did it at all three levels. He’s specifically doing most of his work at the first and third level, which is interesting since the second level is probably his best area. Simply, the team needs those two guys to have the ball in their hands. That’s when things flow, and guys get their best looks.


#5: Some of my most notable Heat set combos.

The Heat’s two man combo has been a staple of theirs for years. Even thinking in really recent years, the Robinson-Adebayo DHO basically got them through their season in the bubble year. But looking at some positive two-man combos at the moment, aside from the obvious ones, I’d start with the newly adjusted Tucker DHO. It’s just something he does quickly when the shot isn’t there, to basically trigger an action, but way too often was Butler on the receiving end. Defender goes under, Tucker in no man’s land, and a 24 second violation is on the way. In this one, we saw some Tucker-Lowry DHO’s which is as good as it gets. Defender has to go over and two are forced to go to the ball, leading to the floater. On the obvious side, as the spacing tries to be fixed around Butler, him screening for Herro is the way in the middle of the floor. Shooters waiting for the spray if they tag, and it’s a win-win all the way around.


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