The Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Hornets tonight.
Yeah, didn’t think I’d be saying that.
Before I discuss the Heat’s poor, poor offensive night, the craziness must be mentioned first.
Kyle Lowry comes up big late in the game, but Erik Spoelstra closes it out with his infamous inbound play to seal it.
Anyway, here are some takeaways from this one…
#1: Miami’s immediate stagnant offensive switch in second quarter.
The Heat came out firing early on offensively, leading to a 37 point first quarter. But they decided to follow that up with a 10 point second quarter, in which I walked away questioning how they even reached 10. The reasoning: their offensive disposition just went right out the window, as they weren’t able to trigger any of their base actions smoothly. Part of this can be attributed to the fact they’re staggering bench lineups that are missing 3 of their primary bench pieces, with one of them being Tyler Herro’s scoring punch, but falling off a cliff to this degree for an extended amount of time just can’t happen. Jimmy Butler definitely wasn’t too engaged in that stretch to will them out of it, as his passiveness stuck out, which quickly blends into forced shots with the supporting cast.
#2: A Gabe Vincent-Omer Yurtseven combo?
I’d just like to take a second to dip out of game evaluations, and dive into player evaluations. I’ve discussed many different two-man combos that work effortlessly, such as Butler-Lowry inverted PnR’s or Robinson-Adebayo DHO and slip, but another one has jumped off the screen: Gabe Vincent and Omer Yurtseven. As Miami struggled against Dallas on Tuesday night, their only positive offensive stretches came from Vincent-Yurt pick and rolls with plenty of lob passes that followed. But there’s other reasons this works that I may not have enough time to fully address. Vincent has a skill to retract big defenders out of the play then create space, which falls into Yurtseven’s wheelhouse. Easy post hooks can come out of it with no help, which is why this goes further than just a pick and roll. It may be minor, but it’s an interesting thing to keep track of.
#3: Will 3 point shooting return after the break?
If you’re watching the Heat’s broadcast, you’d often hear about sharpshooter Duncan Robinson being replaced by fellow sharpshooter Max Strus when one exits. But lately, it’s not really a barrage of outside shooting in every lineup, or any lineup at that. Once again, yes Herro takes a lot of pressure off some of that, but this goes beyond that. This is a team who’s two best players aren’t outside shooters, so that pull must be happening for them to succeed. And with the forceful purpose to pry Robinson open and Strus continuing to struggle, it just heavily ties into the stagnant offense over the last two nights. Heat shot 7% in the second half against Dallas, yet late-game offense is the focus. But if that percentage bumps up just a bit, you aren’t even in late-game offense. We focus on a lot with this team as we evaluate things with a microscope, but that one part of this team has been an obvious eye sore as of late.
#4: A tough night for Jimmy Butler.
The last few weeks have been a lot of Jimmy Butler takeaways after games in a positive fashion, but tonight was as tough as it gets for him. As I spoke about earlier with this Heat offense, things just weren’t flowing in their normal fashion. But when that usually occurs this season, Butler is their offensive outlet. He can attack mismatches, get to the line, and do his usual Butler-like things. But there were absolutely no mismatches to attack even though he tried, the whistle wasn’t as friendly as it normally can be, and that spiraled into complete nonsense to say the least. It’s one thing to miss shots if your Butler, but it’s a completely other thing to force passes and attack mismatches that aren’t really there for 3 straight quarters. Simply, Butler looked like he was already on his flight to Cleveland. But then, OT happened. Then double OT. Then Butler happened. After a historically poor shooting night, he hit two big ones late as he told the bench ‘I told you I’d make one.’
#5: The All-Star break is here.
It’s now officially the All-Star break for the Miami Heat. Aside from anymore offensive game-plan bashing from this match-up or Kyle Lowry takeover mode late, it’s clear that the Heat need this time as much as anybody. For one, it allows their primary bench mob to get back healthy, as Caleb Martin rests that achilles, Dewayne Dedmon gets some much needed rest, and Tyler Herro gets that knee back in perfect shape. Plus, the top guys on this team deserve it as well, but nobody seems to need it more than PJ Tucker. He was their only offensive punch in this one, but other than that, he’s just been available all season long. Take the next week off, then come back with a new mindset as they enter a home heavy part of their schedule.
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