The Miami Heat faced off against the Golden State Warriors yet again, and well, we saw a different process for the Heat in general.
A better process.
With some great late game execution, they pulled out the win.
So here are some takeaways…
#1: Max Strus and Duncan Robinson coming up big early on.
As Max Strus walked to the scorers table of a messy Heat offensive structure, I sent out a tweet. Can Strus save this offense yet again like he has recently? Somehow, the answer was yes yet again. With 9 minutes left in the second quarter, he was up to 11 points, giving this group some life. But he wasn’t the only one. Duncan Robinson joined the party as well, and he shined in many spots. Spot-up shots, movement (which I’ll get to next), passing, and even some paint touches that generated a lob to Bam. When you are getting this type of production from your two shooters, it’s a perfect formula for this team’s best two players. But let’s just keep an eye on sustainability, since they can’t be reliant on this.
#2: The bench group differences.
Strus and Robinson tie into this a good bit, but the Heat’s bench grouping turned things around for Miami early. What started out as a stagnant offensive bunch, the bench came in for a nonstop function of dribble hand-offs. Here comes Vincent, then Robinson, then Strus. Oh there’s Martin open on a back cut. Everything just operates so much smoother with movement. They provided a necessary spark, but it felt like they also provided a blueprint I’ve been focusing on for a bit. Motion, motion, motion. Once that’s done consistently, specifically in the first unit, we are having totally different conversations about this group.
#3: Side track: a look into the Jimmy Butler three.
To stray away from game specifics a bit, a couple Jimmy Butler 3’s in the second quarter made me think a bit. Watching the Instagram stories of Butler in the off-season were always funny, since you always had these thoughts of “are these really things he will be doing in game speed?” The slow launching three without much lift or movement was basically the headliner of this. Yet when watching him play, it always seems as if he’s better in that spot. Not rushed, not forcing, just pulling up slowly with a sagging defender in his view. Fast forward to the third quarter, Butler ended up taking 3 semi-rushed wing threes. From the same exact spot. All seemed to come up short, which just weirdly shows that his long pause on the face-up is his way of gathering rhythm. But I guess focusing on the stuff inside the arc mainly would be a decent point to make as well.
#4: Dealing with the Warriors offensive structure.
When keeping an eye on the numbers throughout the game, everything was pretty close. Turnovers, rebounds, shot distribution. The only main difference following the third quarter was that the Warriors offense went into Warriors offense mode. Miami’s three point shooting began to dip, while the Warriors shooting shot up a bit. Simply, while I’ve been harping on the lazy rotations from Miami as of late, I thought they were quite good. Mixing from switching to drop to zone, they handled it decently well. There were definitely some miscues on some unnecessary doubles, since that’s when the Warriors offense will get you. Motion, back-screen, skip pass, screen, paint touch, three. It’s just the nature of that offense, and I don’t believe Miami did a bad job through and through.
#5: Late-game walkthrough…
Halfway through the fourth of a tie game, the Heat found a certain offensive opening. Robinson pindown or handoff, two fly to him, Bam with a lane for the bucket. It was there to spam, and they did just that. After a timeout, the Warriors adjusted, yet Miami embraced it. Now that they weren’t two out at Robinson, the shot was there, and he knocked it down to tie the game back up, after Curry went Curry mode the play prior. 2 minutes to go, Bam made a great play as the weakside defender to poke it away and get Miami in transition. They pulled it out, ended up in a Lowry force, but he actually forced something good. Came off the screen, got by Thompson, got the lay-in. Wiggins responds with a mid-range bucket. Back the other way, we get a look at a Butler iso. A nasty move and spin gets him to the cup for the and-1, as Curry goes back in the other direction for a 3 point answer. Went from a foul call to a coaches challenge to a call reversal. After some empty possessions on both ends with the Heat holding a 3 point lead, the ball ends up in Jimmy Butler’s hands with 30 seconds to go. Inverted PnR, gets into pull-up range, pump fakes, bucket. That’s game.