The Miami Heat faced the best team in the league tonight, in the Phoenix Suns, and completely dominated without both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro led the way off the bench, but pure outside shooting and offensive execution was the main reason for this.
So, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Duncan Robinson steps down into bench role, but steps up in production.
It was one of those unexpected, yet expected moves that Erik Spoelstra pulled before this game with Max Strus staying in the starting lineup and Duncan Robinson staying in reserve mode. But as much as I thought I’d be discussing Strus’ hot start, Robinson absolutely took over the spotlight. It isn’t even much schematic points that need to be made, except that his confidence looked like it totally surged. Every shot, he had his legs under him and wasn’t swaying in anyway like he usually does after a couple don’t drop. Now, with him coming off the bench, the part many had their eyes on were the minutes of Tyler Herro and him together. And well, when you’re shooting like that, it’ll work. They did run some Herro-Robinson pick and pops with Robinson screening and slipping, which is the exact way to maximize that combo.
#2: Miami shifts who the offense is worked through, and an unexpected guy is the focal point.
I’ve talked a ton about the importance of PJ Tucker in that play-making role, but we saw a shift to begin this one. Initially, we saw much more of Tucker surveying in the dunker spot when one would drive and feed, instead of his usual back to the basket on the wing three. But that aside, they found a guy in the middle of the floor to just make the right sprays, and that guy’s name was Omer Yurtseven. Seven first half assists doesn’t even tell the full story, but just him stepping up when the offense needed that from him says a lot. We’ve seen monster scoring stretches from him this year. We’ve seen nonstop rebounding hounding from him as well. But that first half was the most promising stretch of basketball from Yurtseven that I’ve seen up to this point.
#3: Tyler Herro surprises in other ways now.
Yet again, it was a bit of a shaky start for Tyler Herro. Instead of being surprised by his wild shot-making or unexpected struggles, he surprised in a different way tonight. As I loaded up the box score for the first half, I did not expect there to be a 17 next to Herro’s name. Not only that, but he battled back to 50% shooting up to that point, which is just a big tell of where his game has gone over the last year. When he couldn’t get going tonight, he quickly got into “physical mode,” which is something I’d like to see him enter more often. One fast-break dunk looked to spark some things for him on the attack, and he began driving with his left shoulder leading the way. No more avoiding contact and wild scoops. Okay, there were a few scoops, but when the majority is just strong play from your young guard, good things will happen, which it did, as he ended up finishing the game with one of his best scoring games of the season.
#4: If Miami gets this offensive production most nights, they’ve found the perfect complements for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Roster construction is always a hot topic when talking about teams in the NBA, and more importantly, it’s a bigger topic for contending teams. Right now, the Heat are definitely a contending team. And when looking at the depth of this team, it’s led to us thinking about combinations that will work best in a playoff setting around Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but I’m just not so sure there’s *one* right answer. But no matter who those guys end up being, this type of shooting around those two guys is the ultimate complements to each of their games. Even going back to Robinson and Strus, if both are shooting like this in a few months, there won’t be many minutes where one isn’t on the floor. That is the formula for Butler and Adebayo lineups, and Erik Spoelstra has found that formula.
#5: The Heat just keep doing it.
8-2. That’s the Miami Heat’s record against the top 3 seeds in both the Eastern and Western Conference. No matter who has been available, how many road games they play, or what player is currently in a slump, they’ve still found ways against the top teams in this league. They handled Brooklyn early in the year, dominated the Chicago match-up, and won the majority of games against the Bucks, which they were majorly shorthanded for. On the other side of the league, they lost to Golden State on this trip, yet swept the match-up with the Utah Jazz, and handled business tonight against the Phoenix Suns. That slate of games is as impressive as it gets. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo just watching from the sideline, as the young and hungry continue to battle through win after win. And well, that’s all that is needed. Buy time for Butler, Adebayo, and others, then it’s time to anchor down once the post-season hits. But they’re in a picture perfect position at this moment in time.
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