What Went Wrong for the Miami Heat in Denver?

Aside from cheap-shots, Jokic brothers, Morris brothers, and poor Twitter takes, the Miami Heat had a pretty uneventful night in Denver in terms of on-court production. Some may look at the odd officiating at times or offensive droughts, but the place to start is with your best players.

And their best *player* showed up big time. Jimmy Butler continues to dominate on both sides of the floor, really keeping Miami’s offense afloat when other things begin to breakdown. He finished with 31 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.

Looking back to Miami’s other rough loss against Boston, a main takeaway of mine is that the Heat can’t survive poor offensive games from Butler. Against good teams, it’s hard to put the entire burden on guys like Tyler Herro and expect to walk away with a win.

But on the other side of things, Butler can’t do it by himself either. Miami simply outplayed the Utah Jazz on Saturday night due to the even scoring spread throughout their top 4 guys- Herro: 29 points, Butler: 27 points, Lowry: 20 points, Adebayo: 17 points.

They just won’t lose many games like that.

But when Lowry, Herro, and Adebayo shoot a combined 6 for 30 from the field, you might as well send Omer Yurtseven and KZ Okpala to the scorers table early.

Getting elite level Butler against really good teams means you need one of those other 3 to be elite. Just one. You get the usual Tyler Herro scoring and Miami’s in that game to the very end.

But well, that just wasn’t the case.


Another point to make about this game is that the Heat can make runs to overcome big leads. Yet, while they can make a comeback down 14 in certain circumstances, they just can’t when the opposing team has 91 points at the end of the third.

If they’re trailing at the end of the third by double digits but the score is in the upper 60’s or lower 70’s, then you feel really good about it. But this team can only control the game when it is completely “in the mud.”





Now, the Nuggets’ rolling offense was a bit different when looking over the stats after the game. Even while they dominated on that end, Denver finished the game shooting 29% from three, and if you subtract the hot night from Will Barton, they shot 16% from beyond the arc.

In all, a 12 for 41 three-point shooting night is on par with Miami’s defensive structure this season. Opposing teams are currently shooting 13 for 42 from three this year, as Miami continues to give up the most triples in the league, but the missing results lead to a pretty interesting scheme.

So, if that was the case, how did Miami find themselves in this defensive hole? Well, Nikola Jokic is a good place to start.

Opinions can fly around all day on his “dangerous, dirty play,” as Erik Spoelstra called it after the game, but he absolutely did whatever he wanted in those minutes prior. 25 points, 15, rebounds, and 10 assists is a pretty good day at the office.

On the downside, I don’t see a way Miami can counter anything Jokic does on that end, much like every team in the NBA.

On the bright-side, there is no other player like Nikola Jokic.

Miami only faces him one more time this season, and defensive schematics won’t be on their mind. A hard fought win, some physical plays, and hard fouls will be the theme of that game on November 29th, which I’m sure Jimmy Butler and crew have circled.

Yes, this game added an L to Miami’s record, but it definitely wasn’t the worst loss in the world.

It’s a wake up call, it’s the opening act of Miami’s new villain persona across the league, and there won’t be many nights where Herro, Lowry, and Adebayo are all simultaneously out of sync.

“Luckily we built different over here,” Markieff Morris proclaimed on twitter about that altercation that transpired. And yet, that’ll be tested toward the end of this road trip to see how Miami answers.


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