The Miami Heat faced the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Monday night, and it wasn’t pretty.
A late fading corner shot by Tyler Herro put them up 6 on the way to the win.
Some takeaways from this one…
#1: The Heat’s early paint touches…needed.
No Jimmy Butler. No Bam Adebayo. No paint touches? That’s usually the case on nights like this, since threes begin to fire across the board within this roster. But Kyle Lowry was a large portion of the paint attacks early in this one. Not only the usual pick and roll to draw help before kicking, but he was self creating at the rim. I will say, mostly in the non-Gobert minutes since that’s the ideal spot. After subbing out, the back-court of Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo took the floor, which was the debut of that duo this season. And well, Oladipo was clear his rim attacks would be pure. Even if it doesn’t equate to constant points in the scoring column, that pressure is crucial. Not only in development throughout the year, but setting up the defense for future possessions.
#2: Let me say it again: are we watching the Heat’s new back-up center?
Orlando Robinson was the only true center on the roster in this one without Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, and Omer Yurtseven, yet Nikola Jovic was given the start for spacing purposes. Yet he came in soon after, and well, he was producing. He was cleaning up around the rim for easy second chance points, but mainly his feel for the offense has never felt clunky. Things aren’t forced, his screens are solid, and he’s always available on those dives to the basket, which young players tend to struggle with. There’s still some work to be done beyond the surface, but that comes with any young undrafted player. Right now, there’s not a better option on the roster for that spot. So let’s keep the Orlando Robinson thing rolling.
#3: The Heat’s game-plan tonight: Pushin P(ace).
The Heat are generally known for their half-court heavy offense, since the transition thing has never been in their wheelhouse. But tonight it wasn’t just Lowry and crew deciding to get past the half-court line quicker on the fly, this was a game-plan set thing. After makes, the Heat were flushing their way down the floor, taking me to an early Caleb Martin possession. Off a make, they inbounded to Martin. He got down the floor, and to the rim, for an and-1 with 19 seconds left on the shot clock. Yeah, that’s new. It created an interesting dynamic to their offense for a better flow, mainly due to the Gobert led Timberwolves half-court defense not being able to set up properly.
#4: The opposing run and Heat leakage: part 142 (or something like that).
As the Heat possessed a 10 point lead halfway through the third quarter, I put it on twitter that it was the make or break portion of the game. The blueprint was simple: if they continued to push pace and get into the paint, they would be fine. If they settled for shots, it would soon be a tie game. Well, four minutes later, it was a tie game. The entire Heat offensive structure throughout this game was actions for shooters. Pindowns for Robinson, slip screens for Strus. Those were the things creating the shot profile for Miami throughout. Following that run by Minnesota, credit to Kyle Lowry for really getting things back out the mud. A floater out of the pick and roll, a hand-off to Robinson for three, a pull-up triple out of high PnR, and a feed out of a double were the final possessions of the quarter. They needed that counter punch in this one, and Lowry gave it to them.
#5: The Heat got the night from their two sharp-shooters.
After three quarters, the Heat shot 12 of 41 from beyond the arc. Max Strus and Duncan Robinson were 8 of 14, while the rest of the Heat were 4 of 27. The three-point shooting struggles continue, but the two primary actual sharp-shooters carrying the load in that department is a decent start for the direction they are trying to go. When the Heat are without Butler and Bam, it always comes down to three-point shooting. But more importantly, we see an action revamp since there’s more focus on running consistent creative actions for Robinson and Strus. Robinson gets many of the hand-offs and elbow actions to fly into his rhythm on the move. Strus is mainly off the catch or following a slip screen with the ball-handler drawing two. But getting this type of performance was necessary to stay above water.