The Miami Heat faced the Washington Wizards again on Wednesday night, except they were slightly healthier.
Tyler Herro returned, Kyle Lowry shined, and we witnessed another blown lead.
Either way, Miami’s going to take a win in any form.
So, here are some takeaways…
#1: Kyle Lowry’s offensive resurgence continues.
Off a rough road trip for this Heat team where they went 0-4, I’m pretty comfortable saying there was only one single bright spot: Kyle Lowry. Pushing his limits to play close to 48 minutes is one thing, but actually being productive is another. Fast forward to tonight with Miami piecing some guys back together, he shined even more. He began the game with a very solid approach of generating constant paint touches to get this team decent looks without their two main shooters, but then his own three ball began to fall. He opened up the game going 5 for 5 from three, just simply taking the pull-up above the break threes when they were sitting there. For a team that hasn’t had their legs as of late with the extended minutes, Lowry isn’t a part of that grouping at the moment, which is a good sign. Summary: he’s been great.
#2: My take on the man/zone balance for this current Heat squad.
I spend a lot of time on these pieces talking about the 2-3 zone or Miami’s defensive structure in general, but the timing of utilizing each base is more intriguing. For example, Spoelstra doesn’t *want* to be playing this much zone defense all game, but he’s forced to with the current state of the roster. Yet tonight, it felt like there were times where it wasn’t the only choice. A lineup of Lowry-Martin-Highsmith-Cain-Bam was put out there for a long stretch in the second quarter, as Miami sat back in the 2-3 zone. For clarity, it did its job by forcing those push shots in the middle of the floor, but that’s a 5 man pairing that can guard straight up. They didn’t have many issues defending tonight, but it’s just something to monitor. Lineups with two below average defenders should call for immediate zone, but a solid defensive grouping shouldn’t settle there for too long.
#3: Caleb Martin playing well…as a 3? Who knew?
If you are scrolling down social media and click on the profile of Caleb Martin, you would see his bio states Miami Heat guard. Yet as we see often in Miami, guys eventually size up their position. In Martin’s case, it’s been an abrupt adjustment since it occurred in the starting lineup with certain shoes to fill. He’s been very good this season, but the opinion on him sway since it’s clear he’s just in the wrong position. With Jovic and Bam making up the front-court tonight, he was able to slide to the three. And well, he was able to slide into a familiar play-style. Less worries about screen, less hand-off feeding, more half-court flowing and moving with and without the ball. He was a big part of the early offense with his slashing, and that just projects forward to where he should be placed in the near future.
#4: The Heat’s trend of giving up leads is literally not a joke.
Whenever the Heat gather a lead close to 20 points, we often are inclined to make jokes this season like ‘well, this is going to be a tie game in a few right?’ But the thing about that is it’s not a joke, it continues to occur night in and night out. Once again in this one, the Wizards climb back in the third as the offense gets stale and the transition defense continues to leak. But it makes us question: logistically, why is it happening? That’s a film dive for another time to get the full scoop, but off the top of my head, a twenty point lead means weaker rotations. A twenty point lead means settling for looks in the half-court. But with this group, they just can’t settle at all. It’s a trend that’s extremely problematic healthy or not.
#5: Tyler Herro returns.
Tyler Herro finally came back after being out for close to three weeks, and well we almost saw another set back. He rose up on Porzigis at the rim, and hit the floor hard on his back. He laid there for a bit which seemed like a stinger, then foul trouble sat him out a good portion of that first half. Onto the second half, it was clear he was just searching for some sort of rhythm. A couple pull-up triples seemed to be the one sign of that, but he still wasn’t looking like himself all the way. His overall movement on the floor and overall disposition, which I wonder if it had anything to do with that earlier fall, since I doubt it was the ankle. Never should expect too much in a return game anyway, but he did have a big bucket late which got him into that flow he was looking for. Three point game, he hit a tough step back three on the left wing to give Miami an offensive jolt. Kuzma answered with an and-1 to cut it back to three, but Herro’s reverse hand-off action with Bam led to back to back triples. His fourth quarter performance *was* Tyler Herro, which this offense needs extremely.