What Happened to Miami’s Offense Down the Stretch Against Indiana?

Going from an opening night performance where Miami scored 72 points through 2 quarters to the second game where Miami scored 91 points through 4 quarters and an overtime is pretty interesting.

The missing piece from the puzzle: Kyle Lowry.

It’s not just that Miami missed his pure skill, but they just need that extra piece at the top of the roster to avoid lineups that are pretty uneven bench groups to say the least. As many have noted, this game looked like one from last season.

The other element to missing Lowry was that the offense was so out of control and in the mud throughout this game. They missed that offensive initiator to place them into their sets and allow them to just go, and it’s even harder when Jimmy Butler has a night shooting 7 for 22 from the field.

So, on this atrocious shooting night, it’s important to look into the stuff that was being run late in this game. Let’s take a quick walk through Miami’s last 2 minutes of regulation and the entire overtime on the offensive side of the ball…

The one positive note from Miami late in this game was the scoring from Tyler Herro, even if he did do it on 28 shots. Attempts should not be harped on with him in a game like this, since considering the offensive pieces around him last night, he should’ve been shooting for 30+.

Aside from that, it was clear the ball needed to be in his hands late in this game no matter what. Down 2 with 2 and a half minutes left, he avoids the screen and moves back left for a tough shot above the break. And well, he buries it.

Fast forward to 55 seconds left, Miami’s score remains the same, but they go back to that Herro creation at the top of the key. He steps back on Brogdon moving to his left and hits by far the toughest shot of the night.

If this wasn’t a signal that the ball had to go through him, I don’t know what was.

But yet, Indiana’s defense seemed to want the ball in anybody else’s hands as well.

Tie game with 30 seconds left, Butler is trying to get Herro on the move like they’ve done up to that point with constant screening. But with Brogdon covering Butler, he can easily show and recover on the screen, leading to a Miami reset.

Butler gets the ball at the top of the key as Bam Adebayo comes for the screen, and this is exactly what you want. Take a look at the spacing on the floor: Robinson and Herro both have their defenders glued to them on the perimeter, giving the Heat’s best two players the ultimate runway.

But everything just seemed a step too slow in that department. And better yet, predictable.

There was a crease for Butler to hit Adebayo on the roll, but he misses him with all attention on him on the ball. He then speeds up to attack, and every defender basically crashes in at once.

Why is that? Well, all 9 players on the floor knew what was coming next, and it led to them meeting him at the rim.

Without the team’s primary initiator, of course processing things offensively will be a bit delayed, but it’s unlike Butler to miss the type of reads that he always makes. He tried to make a play, but came up short on this possession.

Now, we make our way into the beginning of overtime, and it actually kicked off with one of the few good looking possessions for Miami in this game.

Butler orchestrating for guys to be in the right spots, as Adebayo sets a pin-down for Herro as a decoy essentially for them to get into the initial action. Adebayo gets the ball, Herro sets the back-screen for Butler, and Adebayo lobs it up to Butler for the bucket.

Now that looked like good offense that we saw against Milwaukee in the season opener.

The Heat are now down 2, and they try to run something similar to what was shown in the last clip with Adebayo receiving the ball in the high post. The ball gets bounced around, and it leads to a top of the key pick and roll with Herro and Adebayo.

Not only does Herro see two defenders fly at him, but there was no worry in the scheme defensively to quickly recover. The plan was clear: make Herro uncomfortable.

That’s exactly what they did, as Herro makes the right read to hit the open corner, but it flies way over Tucker’s head out of bounds.

When looking back at this play, there should be a slight shift if this coverage is ever thrown at him again, which many Heat players said after the game will be seen again. Adebayo should relocate to the free throw line extended on the roll as a release valve, while PJ Tucker should drop to the dunker spot.

If a defense is going to commit that heavily, you have to ultimately force them into flawless rotations once Adebayo catches that in the mid-range. Obviously it’s just the second game, so stuff like this will be tweaked when seen again, but that right there isn’t Herro’s fault.

The supporting cast can’t be immobile when this type of thing is seen.

This was a very crucial play for Miami when looking back at it, but it told us all we needed to know about this game. It’s Herro and Butler playing catch on the perimeter, while Adebayo’s early aggression fades completely.

In many ways, the role of Adebayo in overtime was the one he embraced when playing for Team USA in Tokyo.

Taking up space in the dunker spot, and pure screening and relocating. He wasn’t a roll threat, he was just a screen threat.


Now, that’s not all on Adebayo, since the wing players have to do a better job of hitting him in those open windows, but there has to be that self awareness of who he is in these moments.

You’re already without a top player, in Kyle Lowry, so it should be him taking a step forward instead of a step back in terms of role.

The play ends in Butler trying to draw a foul on his three-point attempt, which clanks off the rim and into the Pacers’ possession. When the team is down 4 with 3 minutes left and that’s the shot you’re getting, you just aren’t winning those games. Especially considering the night Butler had up until that point.

But hey, somebody other than Herro had to try and make something out of nothing.

The hopes of Miami making a late push are pretty nonexistent at this point. Out of the timeout, down 9, Erik Spoelstra draws something up for one of the best shooters on the planet: Duncan Robinson.

Why is this important to note? Well, we needed to see more of this when offense wasn’t clicking late.

Miami went from a team that only relied on Robinson on the offensive end through hand-offs last year, to almost forgetting he’s on the floor at certain points last night.

Robinson has usually been the guy getting the double teams thrown at him in these spots, but his teammate, Tyler Herro, was seeing that instead. And that right there is an indicator to get Robinson some looks no matter if he missed some easy ones early on or not.

Robinson gets a wide open three on the inbound off the Adebayo screen, which is not something we’ve seen often on inbound plays recently since he’s the usual piece being focused on. But waiting to unleash him in this way 3 and a half minutes into overtime didn’t give them much time to recover.

Speaking of “waiting to unleash,” here’s Adebayo pushing the ball up the floor with 1 minute to go in OT, and ultimately missing two forced shots at the rim.

Once again, does it matter that he fell short on those lay-ins late? Maybe to a certain degree, but they just need him to get the ball up. And yet, this was the first time in overtime that he took it upon himself to initiate offense.

This isn’t just a conversation harping on the aggression of Adebayo, since I actually feel he has become much more purposeful in that department, but it must stay consistent.

It can’t be forceful right out the gate, it has to be in the normal flow as well.

It can’t be Kyle Lowry telling him to go, it has to be him realizing he can blow-by his guy as well.

In no way should people overreact to this game, since many of these trends won’t be the case when Lowry gets back on the floor, but this team has to be prepared for one of Butler or Lowry to be out for a game here and there.

Since that can be the difference between finishing the season with home court advantage or not.


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