This was a pretty up and down game for the Miami Heat. Hot first quarter generated from Bam Adebayo to a poor second quarter to a worse third quarter to a Kyle Lowry fourth quarter explosion.
Through that roller coaster of a game, Miami fell just short at the end in a game that they missed Jimmy Butler.
Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…
#1: Bam Adebayo comes out with a purpose offensively: breathing the Brooklyn air.
One lob from Kyle Lowry was the starting point for a hugely dominant first quarter for Bam Adebayo. Following that sole enhancement, he was creating shots all by himself inside the arc. Mid-range jumper to strong drives to more mid-range jumpers. 19 points through that span left me thinking of one specific night: that game in Barclays Center. No Jimmy Butler meant it was his time to score, and deja vu had arrived. Now, the interesting thing about this topic is the way the defense can quickly shift to take that away. One less option on that end meant the Clippers could begin to double Adebayo on the catch down low, especially considering Lowry couldn’t buy a bucket to start.
#2: Can Miami Heat consistency be coming?
There are a lot of things that can be seen from that first half specifically in a positive or negative light. Aside from the positive light of Adebayo and Tyler Herro, the negative light is more team oriented. One of those things is the overall three-point shooting that just can’t get going no matter what, but another thing is team consistency. Not from one night to the next, but from one quarter to the next. Miami came out firing in that first quarter and swarming on the defensive end, but the second quarter flipped the coin. Miami’s thin depth means that was kind of expected, but not being able to shut down the opposing team’s three-point opportunities can be problematic. They went to that 2-3 zone for a bit which had it’s moments, but having some type of game rhythm from quarter to quarter in this league is going to be absolutely crucial.
#3: Tyler Herro can make things happen out of any scenario.
Early sixth man of the year candidate, Tyler Herro, was going to need to get it going once again on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. The reason for that: well, no Butler and a carrying Adebayo needed that extra guy on that end. Adebayo and Herro combined for 38 points at the half, while the rest of the team scored 20, but it’s actually the way that he’s doing it. Continuing to shift East to West in quick maneuvers to fire over his defender, but also turning the corner in a way he hasn’t done so in past years. His downhill bag is so much broader than it once was, just due to that half-a-second extra speed on those quick dives on the ball. Herro will be a takeaway most nights this season, which is exactly my big picture takeaway tonight.
#4: Kyle Lowry’s rough 3 and a half quarters, plus the strong 1/2 quarter.
For starters, the Duncan Robinson three-point struggles is something I’ve discussed for quite some time now, but something interesting is that Kyle Lowry has been right there with him for many spurts this year. And yet, Lowry would agree with that sentiment, as he proclaims himself in many post-game press conferences. The reason it isn’t as loud as the Robinson conversation is that he does so many other things, beginning with setting everybody else up on offense. Those struggles were the case again tonight for the first 3 and a half quarters, but that stuff got thrown out the window real quick. While it lasted for much of the game, he came alive late by scoring 11 straight points in the fourth. Drive-bys, pull-up threes, free throw line trips, plus and-1 finishes with under 1 minute and 30 seconds to go. One of the best individual quarters of the season.
#5: Big picture, Max Strus will be a major piece this season.
Max Strus enters the game for the first time in some time, and buries his first two threes on back to back possessions. After that, he quickly tailed off and missed his next six. Aside from that, there’s no doubt that he changes a lot of things for this team, and even more than originally expected. He’s not just a bench piece that can hit some threes, but he’s a rotational wild card. Duncan Robinson is struggling? Throw in Strus. Multiple rotational players are out? Utilize Strus even more. Need more spacing in a lineup? Strus enters. The point is that he’s more versatile on this team than expected, not just from an on-court perspective, but from a utilization perspective. And in the big picture, with a fully healthy squad, he’s going to be quite the threat for this offense.