Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Washington

The Miami Heat faced the Washington Wizards once again on Friday night, and it was the Bam Adebayo night.

A dominant offensive performance from start to finish, as he led Miami into a much needed two game win streak.

So, some takeaways from this one…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s early offensive dominance.

Bam Adebayo’s first half was pretty eventful on the offensive end: 22 points on 9 of 10 shooting is a pretty insane stat-line. But it was more about the shot profile since it wasn’t repetitive at all. It started out with a heavy dosage of Herro-Bam PnR, which was expected in this match-up against drop. Some early buckets off the roll boosted energy and confidence for him, leading into some early shot-clock work on some face-up jumpers and attacks. One possession stood out though to kick off this game, since I love when they run sets for Bam: Herro handling, Jovic pin-down on the left box for Bam to operate off a curl, leading to a bucket in the mid-range. More. They continued to let him work on the move which is the key, but that type of efficiency is just so impressive. The most important thing for this team’s success is to prioritize getting Bam going early in games.

#2: The Wizards defensive game-plan in the bench minutes.

In these two-game sets, it’s kind of like a mini playoff series. Minor adjustments are utilized back and forth, meaning counter punches are being thrown on the fly. Once again, not playoff sized counters, but simply and minor ones. For instance, the Wizards had an approach that made a whole lot of sense against Miami’s lineups with a front-court of Highsmith-Cain-Dedmon. Or we can even simplify it down to the two-man combo of Highsmith and Cain. Since they’re being utilized as the spacers, the Wizards were shading over hard at Lowry and Herro as primary ball-handlers. Once they would draw a mismatch like Porzingis, Wes Unseld would wave his hands to send the double. Herro or Lowry have to swing, Highsmith or Cain ends up getting it in the corner, and the lack of a quick pull means they can rotate/recover quickly. That’s just the result of those type of lineups, but an intriguing wrinkle to note.

#3: More eyes on Caleb Martin playing the wing.

Watching Caleb Martin’s movement in this game again, it’s clear that he’s comfortable as an attacker at the moment. Part of that is the match-ups he’s seeing from Washington, as he voiced to me on Wednesday, but there’s also the element of playing a lot at the three, while Highsmith and Cain play the “Martin” role for now. I will say that this team needs his on-ball slashing a lot more right now than when the full starting lineup is out there, since a lot of guys are demanding the ball, but that’s exactly what puts this into some perspective. If he can slide over to the bench with more usage and better match-ups while not having to size up, that’s the goal in my opinion. The unwillingness to stick with Jovic tells me that change won’t be made until we see a trade, but the point still stands that *this* is the role for Martin.

#4: A counter punch by Miami in terms of adjustments.

As I went over these two-game sets being mini playoff series, Erik Spoelstra wasn’t going to let Unseld and crew have all the fun with adjustments. As the Heat needed some added juice in the third quarter, Spo mixed up the coverages a bit away from the 2-3 zone. As I talked about on Wednesday, the Martin-Highsmith-Cain-Bam minutes are a waste of zone time. That’s a team that can switch around a bit, which is exactly what Spo went to in that span. This created a bit of a run, as Highsmith did a good job switching, Bam shut the water off on the perimeter, and some stops led to transition buckets for Martin and company. I’m totally for the reliance on zone with the roster that’s being utilized at the moment, but I also feel like there are pockets of time where it can use a break, as seen in that span.

#5: Another look into the late-game approach.

As the Heat had an uphill climb while trailing throughout the 4th quarter, the Heat’s approach didn’t waver. Bam Adebayo was still the primary option, as he would receive it in that mid-post almost every possession to set up offense. A bucket mid-way through the quarter put him up to 32, while the following play a goal-tend at the rim increased it to 34. Heat trail 98-96. After a stop, Lowry bursts by the point of attack, draws help from both corners, kicks to Bam in the right corner, who immediately flows into a hand-off with Herro who hits a fading three in the deep corner. But the Wizards answer right back with a bucket and a trip to the free throw line, giving the lead back to Washington 102-99. Out of a timeout, Herro gets stuck off the dribble again, swinging the ball to Lowry on the left wing. Shot clock ticking, he sizes up, and fires over Kuzma, converting on the and-1 triple to give Miami another sign of life. Fast forward to under a minute, after taking a one point lead, the Heat just kept forcing stops on the other end. 30 seconds left, Lowry-Bam PnR in space is the action. He feeds it to Bam rolling to the basket, who hits an insane left handed scoop. 38 points on the night. Ball-game.

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