The Miami Heat beat the Washington Wizards on Thursday night, and it was another big night for Jimmy Butler. Even with Tyler Herro out due to a wrist injury, others stepped up off the bench.
So, here are five takeaways from another Heat win…
#1: Jimmy Butler playing his own game, with a different speed.
Scoring mode Jimmy Butler has taken the floor for most of Miami’s games this season. Much of that has to do with Kyle Lowry stripping some of the play-making duties from him, while it’s also just him taking advantage of match-ups and spots of the floor. Tonight, he was playing his usual offensive game, but it was at a different speed. Even when Lowry isn’t on the floor, Butler has made it a part of his routine to grab it and go, which really fits the supporting cast on this team, more specifically the bench. But if that mid-range jumper continues to fall, and he continues to draw that whistle and get to the line, MVP ladder Jimmy Butler isn’t going anywhere.
#2: Tyler Herro out. Gabe Vincent in. And he was ready for the offensive load.
With Tyler Herro out, it was clear they were going to need one or two scoring threats to step up off the bench. Gabe Vincent has been that guy before, but he hasn’t really been that at all recently. But there’s a difference between being inserted into Lowry’s role and Herro’s role. We saw the difference in that tonight. He actually saw quite some time next to Lowry, which enhances his scoring skill even more. He was driving with authority to eventually open up the jumper, and that looks to be the formula for success. If he has match-ups that are around his size and he can play his physical game, he’s in a good spot.
#3: The halftime takeaway: three-point shooting struggles, yet 7 point lead.
The three-point shooting watch has been much different for the Miami Heat this season than previous years. Previously, their percentage in that category could tell you if they were winning or losing at a certain point. Yet, this isn’t a “three-point shooting” team anymore. The Heat were up 47-40 at the half, while shooting 14% from three at that point. Like I said: different. The reason they’re able to still be in a winning spot is due to the efficiency of their two-point shots. Mid-ranges drop on this team, they can get to the rim, and frankly, they had 14 free throw attempts at the half to the Wizards’ 7. They can win in different ways, which is just simply something new.
#4: Bam Adebayo picking his spots perfectly as an inside threat. An inside the 3 point line threat.
One thing was clear when this game started, and it was that Bam Adebayo was going to get shots up tonight. They weren’t really falling right out the gate, but that changed rather quickly. The main reason for that is he’s picking his spots at such a high level right now, and isn’t afraid to pull-up for that interior jumper. That exact type of play is how he creates gravity for his team. Once that occurred and Miami got a switch down low, the Wizards’ defense had to think twice. It’s not that they were full-out doubling him, but they dipped off the corner shooters just enough. That led to an absolute zip pass from Adebayo in the post one possession to an awaiting PJ Tucker in the corner. And that’s the whole story with Adebayo on the offensive end this season.
#5: Caleb Martin: a two-way steal, but not a two-way for long.
Speaking of guys stepping up off the bench with Tyler Herro out, Caleb Martin’s name must come up since he’s been doing that all season. A power forward goes down, here is Caleb Martin entering. Jimmy Butler goes down, here is Caleb Martin entering. Kyle Lowry goes down, here is Caleb Martin entering. The only knock that can be found against him right now is that he has a 50 game limit, and he could be used in many more. But well, that contract could always be tweaked, and it feels like we’re rapidly approaching that point. Swarming defense, effective offense, and tons and tons of athleticism is the type of guy you need to lock up with the thinness of this bench.
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