Five Takeaways from this Miami Heat Season

On a pretty meaningless night of Miami Heat basketball, I wasn’t going to dissect the play of Sioux Falls against the Magic.

Instead, I wanted to zoom out a bit and go big picture.

So, here are some mainstream takeaways from the Heat this regular season…

#1: Tyler Herro’s leap, a Miami Heat leap.

Coming into the season, there were some decently high expectations for Tyler Herro on this team. He had a lot against him heading in with trade rumors and things of that nature, yet people still were projecting that 6th man of the year was in reach. But as we’ve seen, not only was he in reach, he’s the runaway favorite. And to that point, he’s exceeded all expectations since that first game in October, even after putting a target on his back that he was in similar “conversations” as some of the league’s best young talent. From a basketball perspective, we constantly look at the stuff he’s doing now under a microscope, but it’s pretty obvious that his leap has elevated this Heat team. On the offensive end, he’s allowed everything to gel together due to his shot creating surge. Yet when hearing the word “surge,” it feels like it applies to him in different ways week after week.

#2: Bam Adebayo capping off the staple of this team: a top defense.

After looking back at Herro’s play leading to offensive flexibility, that’s been the case for Bam Adebayo on the defensive end to an even further degree. Yes Miami added defensive talent, in guys like PJ Tucker, and lost certain liabilities, like Kendrick Nunn or Goran Dragic, but defense is very similar to offense: you can have skillful players, but you need the puzzle pieces to fit together. Bam Adebayo is the reason that they fit. The Miami Heat have won regular season games this year behind Bam’s impact on switches, weak-side help, or the pure fear factor. That’s why it just works, and ultimately why he should be the defensive player of the year. In terms of expectations, it’s fair to say that some expected he could potentially obtain that award, but becoming Spoelstra’s shifting defensive design isn’t normal. But he’s made it look as such.

#3: Jimmy Butler’s consistency and Kyle Lowry’s control providing positive signs.


In the off-season, we heard a lot of talk about timelines. The Herro-Adebayo timeline or the Butler-Lowry timeline. And well, they’re riding the line of both at this very moment in time, landing them in the 1 seed. I talked about that young pairing already, but that veteran combo shouldn’t be pushed to the side. Through pure numbers, there hasn’t been much change for them, but they’ve allowed this all to work. Lowry has led to a major shift in offensive schematics, as Miami has abandoned pure reliance on DHO’s, and relied much more heavily on ball screen sets and heavy movement actions. How can they quickly transition? Well, just credit Lowry’s passing. Butler also deserves credit for his overall consistency, not just in numbers, but in role. His rim pressure asset is nothing to play with, and we’re now seeing him taking a hypothetical step back for the young duo to shine. We know about the Lowry-Butler relationship off the floor, but the on-court duo is peaking at the right time.

#4: Do the Miami Heat have depth? Oh yeah, the Miami Heat definitely have depth.

The question that was posed often before the season when talking about this Heat team was: do they have enough depth? Not only rotationally, but to get through a regular season. Looking back at it now, both of those things are laughable. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin ascending together this season has played a big part in that, which is where “getting through the regular season” comes into play. Lowry goes out, oh Vincent steps up big. Robinson goes out, Strus steps up big. Butler goes out, Martin steps up big. Adebayo goes out, Yurtseven steps up big. It was a never ending process that quickly blended into rotation strength. These guys were no longer fillers. They were legitimate playoff level bench pieces. Now fast forward a bit more, you have some other guys on the outside looking in, with Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo, as Dipo goes off for 25 in the first half on game 82. Depth quickly shifted from weakness to strength, and now it’s leading to constant debates of who should play over who.

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#5: A 1 seed built for the playoffs.

Moving the goal posts is a common occurrence in the sports world. As many proclaimed before the season, this gritty Heat group would be one of those “tough outs” in a playoff setting, since they will be one of those middle of the pack teams nobody wants to play. All of a sudden they land in the 1 seed, due to the previous section of depth, and now they’re a regular season team that have questions surrounding entering true contention? Yeah, like I said, the goal posts move. But it’s pretty clear when watching this team that they are built for a playoff setting. For one, they have a coach of the year candidate that I haven’t touched on a lot here, who is better at mid-game, or mid-series, adjustments than most opponents he faces. But more importantly, they’ve found their identity at the right time. They’ve known what they are defensively, but discovering this new look offense with more spacers, expanded sets, and a changing rotation has broadened this team’s ceiling in my view.

 

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