The Miami Heat took down the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night in the definition of an all around night. Lowry thriving, Butler shining, and role players making the difference.
So, here are five takeaways from this big win…
#1: Hit ahead passes were not only the first quarter theme, but a new Miami offensive theme.
Some offensive things fluctuated throughout this one, due to stretches being picture perfect, textbook offense, while other spurts were once again in the mud. But to look back at that clicking style of play, it aligns with that transition offense that we all knew Kyle Lowry would provide upon arrival. Yes, he pushes the ball down the floor. Yes, he can slow them down when it’s needed. But most of all, that hit ahead pass has been pretty contagious across the roster. With it only being the fourth game of the season, it feels like we’re still in that stage where they’re trying to grasp the timing of it fully, but it still works. Guys like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have fully embraced that as well, which is a major part of it this early in the season. But it’ll be necessary to mix it in out the gate, instead of showing all of their cards immediately as the season progresses.
#2: Jimmy Butler comes out with all eyes on the rim.
Jimmy Butler always seems to come out with a clear-cut plan when the game begins. Sometimes in a game without Lowry in Indiana, it’ll be pure play-making with the ball in his hands. But in a game in Brooklyn after a 36 point night against Orlando, it was all about scoring. He was getting to the rim consistently, and even without getting that whistle, he was still converting regularly early on. And well, that’s the Butler they’re going to need over this next stretch of games against tough opponents. Butler was so crucial in the rebounding and defensive aspect of this game, providing second chances and extra possessions for himself over and over on the box. Coach Spo is exactly right when he says Butler is not a flopper, but that physical downhill play isn’t disappearing. Fullback Jimmy is still very much in effect.
#3: This version of Dewayne Dedmon provides much more flexibility.
There’s been one bench guy that has stood out in many of these games, either in a positive or negative light, but tonight that guy was Dewayne Dedmon. In many ways, offensive opportunities were just falling right into his lap under the rim, but actually converting on those possessions is a completely different story, which he has continually done at an extremely high level. This team also hasn’t been the greatest rebounding team in recent years, especially when relying on an undersized rookie Precious Achiuwa as your back-up center to provide that specific skill. Dedmon has done just that, and the offensive activity is the main element. Six first half rebounds with four of them being offensive. Miami needs those extra opportunities like that if they’re shooting this poorly from three, and having a reserve propel you in that way is important. But it wasn’t just him, which I’ll touch on down the line.
#4: Miami’s third quarter run: off-season acquisitions.
Coming out of halftime, it almost looked like Brooklyn could run away with it after an immediate triple from Kevin Durant. But what turned it around for Miami in that span? Well simply, the new guys. Kyle Lowry was a big reason for it to start, after a quick run that consisted of himself and himself only. Transition pull-up three, running the floor for a lay-in, and a nice dish for a Robinson three was how it went down in a stretch, really sparking Miami to kick off the second half. But the guy who was even more impressive tonight, specifically in that third quarter, was PJ Tucker. Making Durant as uncomfortable as humanly possible, competing on the boards in a way Miami hasn’t had in years, and just getting his hands dirty by diving for loose balls and things of that nature. If you get a big time game from one or two role players over this tough stretch of games, they will be in great shape coming out of it.
#5: A rebounding flip from this Heat team changes things.
Looking back at the off-season, the Heat lacked a couple of things when evaluating the team on paper. They needed a pure point guard, which they got in Lowry. But they also needed added rebounding, which it was unclear if they acquired. They brought back Dedmon, but the only other front-court additions were strong 4’s who provide more of that horizontal presence than vertical presence. But let me just say, length doesn’t always equal good rebounding. Miami killed the Nets in that category tonight, and it was the definition of a team effort. Butler was outstanding in that area, Adebayo did his job, Tucker/Dedmon provided those extra opportunities, and Tyler Herro continues to bring that strong attack off misses. Keeping Spo’s personnel while adding a Pat Riley staple is the definition of a successful off-season.