Since we’re 13 days away from the Heat’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Hawks, it leads to many of us looking at stuff through a microscope. But when picturing Kyle Lowry’s impact in a Heat uniform specifically, I think we have to take a step back to the initial observation.
He brings so much to the table as a player that we may be overlooking an obvious element.
Yes, a primary addition is plugging the point of attack issues. Yes, they get an extra play-maker to run offense. Yes, Lowry is a guy who can get to the basket and put pressure on the rim alone.
But what about the biggest thing that translates to pacing and game control? Free throw line antics.
That has always been one of the first things that comes to mind when hearing the name Lowry or facing him whenever you watch your team play. He knows how to manipulate the whistle out on the perimeter, and well, does that sound a bit familiar?
Jimmy Butler is pretty similar in that sense, since he’s known for controlling tempo and utilizing a loud yell whenever he gets around the rim to create contact. While Lowry does it mostly on the perimeter as a ball-handler, Butler does it as a finisher, which may be the most important combo on this team.
Bam Adebayo has actually grown a lot by getting to the free throw line as well, which is important with his current skill-set. Guys like Butler have been pushing him to do it more, since he’s faster, more athletic, and more skilled than most of the bigs he faces one-on-one.
And the quote I bring up a lot from when I asked Butler about Adebayo’s aggressiveness and ability to get to the free throw line, he said, “He’s damn near unguardable whenever he’s playing like that.”
If confidence in his downhill ability grows, as well as his frequency in downhill attempts, the charity stripe may end up being an even bigger theme than the toughness of this group.
A common topic in the NBA from year to year is the transition from regular season play-style to playoff play-style. Fast paced teams may not get as many transition buckets as they once did, since the game slows down and half-court creativity becomes much more important.
Well, that’s where the free throw line stuff becomes a staple for this Heat team. Not to kill their bodies through the first 82 to get a call, but when things begin to slow down, they have something to rely on if shots aren’t falling in their natural flow.
Looking back at the post-season in the bubble, Butler, Adebayo, and Lowry all cracked the top 20 for free throw attempts per game.
To dive even deeper, Butler, Victor Oladipo, Lowry, and Adebayo were all included in the top 12 of free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. When things got tight down the stretch, they found ways to put points on the board.
Now all four of those guys are a part of the 2021-2022 Miami Heat squad. You may look at this team on paper and say they are very strong defensively, but will those guys put enough points on the board?
I would say definitely in a normal setting, but even more so when things grow uncomfortable. This team is built for the post-season, but it just comes down to reaching a decent seed to actually make something of it.
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