Miami Heat takeaways as first half of season closes

The Miami Heat have settled into the second tier of the Eastern Conference. They currently stand at 5th in the standings. This team is still hard to judge and predict as it has continued to be riddled with injuries all year. Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Jimmy Butler have played less than 10 games together. With that being said let us talk about some things standing out for the Heat. 


Jovic flashing

Nikola Jovic has carved out a role for himself. Jovic originally got an opportunity due to injuries for other players, but he took advantage of the opportunity. Jovic has averaged 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in his last 7 games. This has been the most promising stretch of his career. It needs to be mentioned that Jovic has looked much more comfortable since coming back from his G-League assignment. Getting playing time grew his confidence and has made him a more complete player. He has shown that he is the best transition player the Heat have. He is the only player that I trust in transition. He consistently makes the right reads and is converting his transition opportunities.

He does not have any doubt in his decision-making, and his decisiveness leads to results. Jovic is not afraid to get a rebound and then take the ball up the court. He looks seamless. This helps increase the Heat’s pace and does not let the defense set themselves, leading to easy baskets. One thing that has surprised me about Jovic is his defense. Jovic is not known as a defender by any means, but his improvement over the season cannot be understated. He is learning how to use his frame to his advantage and is no longer fouling every defensive possession. It is important to remember Jovic is still young and has time to develop. There will be ups and downs, as progress is not linear. We are starting to see the potential that Jovic has on a more consistent basis though. Jovic deserves a spot in the rotation moving forward, there is no doubt about it. 


Herro rebounding

The Heat needed Tyler Herro to come out of a slump, and he delivered. Herro has become a constant talking point for any Heat fan. This is the life of a young fringe All-Star who is the center of trade talks. This was escalated during Herro’s recent struggles. Herro plays a vital role on this team, which is simply, to be a go-to scorer. In January, he’s mostly struggled, and the Heat has been worse for it. This was until Herro changed the game against the Brooklyn Nets on January 15th. The Heat were coming off a 31-point first half (not a typo, I know shocking) and had not hit a three all night.

Then magic happened and Herro nailed back-to-back threes and was cooking the rest of the night. Herro made 5 one legged floaters and was flat-out unstoppable. Herro also nailed several important shots down the stretch and displayed his clutch gene once again, nailing a floater in the final seconds to give the Heat a lead in the final seconds of regulation. The Nets would then go on to tie the game and force overtime. In overtime, the Nets got out to a 5-point lead and the game looked over until Herro once again clawed the Heat back with 2 more threes. Herro had 17 points in the 2nd half and 6 of the Heat’s 8 points in OT.  Herro changed the game, and they would not have won without him. He finished with a final stat line of 29/11/22 on 50% shooting. This was his best game since the start of the new year. I think this game could be a jolt back to the All-Star level we were seeing earlier in the year. 



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Back in the muck

The mud is a blessing. It is no secret that the Heat are not a dazzling offensive team or even a fast one. They play slow and force their opponents to play slow. At times this can be very frustrating, but it is where they seem to be the most comfortable, as they have played this style for years. I have joked for years now that Heat fans just need to suffer through the regular season to enjoy the playoffs, which is true to a degree. 82 games of grind-it-out basketball can be draining and hard to watch at times. You have to be a true sicko to enjoy it (me, I’m the sicko).

There is beauty in the struggle, it’s competition, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the team that plays the ugliest games in the regular season consistently “overperforms” in the playoffs when games are naturally more of a struggle? I would argue no. For the whole Jimmy Era, the Heat have thrived in the playoffs. In the playoffs nothing but a W matters. The games are not always pretty and have plenty of adversity. I argue that the regular season struggle and constant fight prepare them for adversity and give them comfort in it. They know they can bring any game into the “mud” and more times than not they will succeed. They are battle-tested in ugly basketball. Most teams panic and struggle to find ways to win when their game isn’t going how they planned. For the Heat, it is just another basketball game. I implore you to look at Spo for guidance on how to feel. He LOVES the struggle and fight.

He wants his team to find ways to win even when they aren’t playing their best. The times Spo smiles the biggest are after games that he classifies as “mud.” So next time the Heat are in the ugliest basketball game known to man, just think how sweet those playoff Ws will feel, that no one else saw coming. 

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