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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Overtime Loss in Indiana

The Miami Heat fell short in OT to the Indiana Pacers, in a game that was the basketball definition of “in the mid.” Jimmy Butler just couldn’t put the ball in the basket, and without Kyle Lowry, it became the Tyler Herro show late.

On a very rough offensive night, here are some takeaways walking away from this game…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s aggression stays consistent early on, but unfortunately fades late in terms of offensive set-ups.

The Heat are 8 minutes into a pretty uneven start to this game. Bam Adebayo with 6 shot attempts, rest of Miami with 7 total shot attempts. This wasn’t just an abnormal aggressive start from Adebayo. This is just him now. Pulling up with zero hesitance on that inner wing, attacking the basket right at Myles Turner and Damantas Sabonis like he always does against this team for some odd reason, and getting to the line due to that driving urge. The point is this: if it can get to a point where it’s expected instead of hopeful, then that’s a fantastic starting point. Nobody will question an inefficient night at this stage of his career, the same way many will question an unwillingness to shoot. The issue with that is he faded late. When offense grew more and more stagnant in overtime, it was forced jumpers from Butler and double teams flying to Herro. In a game like this, Adebayo must be set-up late the way he was set-up early.

#2: Kyle Lowry out, Gabe Vincent in. What does that mean for the rotation status?

Kyle Lowry was a game time decision for this game and ended up sitting out, which I don’t think was a bad choice considering it’s only game two. As I expected, Gabe Vincent stepped into the starting lineup, since well, that’s the Erik Spoelstra way. But after a slow start from Vincent, it may lead to some questioning the insertion, but let me just say that move is even more necessary in a game like this. Things clearly fell apart in the non-Butler and Adebayo minutes like they did last season, and starting Tyler Herro means you’re making the minute distribution even worse. Vincent looked very predictable in his minutes, since his defender seemed to always know exactly what he was doing before he even did it. But a major point of emphasis in a game without Lowry is to put Herro in the right spots, which they did…

#3: The growth of Tyler Herro is real…and it’s not just one thing.

When walking away from the first half, the primary takeaways were all negative: lacking full-on engagement, Butler’s shots weren’t falling, Dewayne Dedmon looked a step slow with that ankle injury, etc. But a positive element somehow outshined those other things: Tyler Herro. A 16 point performance in the first half through 16 minutes doesn’t do his evaluation justice. Movement shots on the baseline, carving up the mid-range with ease, and utilizing that added muscle by embracing contact on the attack. That stuff is brand new. We can sit here and breakdown the “growth” from Herro to begin this season, but it truly isn’t one thing. He’s just comfortable, and combining that with an immense amount of confidence to lead the team in shots in the first half by 5 attempts is pretty interesting. And then capping it off with clutch shot after clutch shot late in the fourth is a completely different story. The emergence is here.

#4: Miami’s third quarter fight finds an offensive set that is quite intriguing.

Jimmy Butler had a rough game shooting the basketball, but he did find other ways to chip away with this team. One way of doing that was defensively, and the other was trying new things on the offensive end. Early in the third, Butler found himself on another isolation on the inner wing, which hasn’t worked all night. Duncan Robinson makes his way around the wing instead, Butler hands it off to him, and two Indiana defenders fly at him. Robinson dumps it down to Butler on the short roll: easy score. A few possessions later, the same thing is seen again. Robinson draws attention on the hand-off, Butler gets it in the middle of the floor and lays it in. But is it just that simple? Well it is, until Robinson adds that dribbling element like he did late in the third. The third Butler DHO for Robinson was seen, but they were ready for the roll this time. Robinson gets to his right, finds space inside, and banks it in. This offensive wrinkle sparked them tonight, and could be a base moving forward.

#5: This team is going to play in the mud a ton.

When I say that this Heat team will find themselves playing in the mud frequently this season, that isn’t a knock on their offense. It’s putting this defensive structure on a pedestal. Miami had trouble scoring as well, but holding this Pacers team to 8 points in the third quarter after the way they came out shooting wasn’t accidental. Even without Lowry and using plenty of Robinson-Herro lineups, this team stayed true to their identity. Not because of pure athleticism or defensive abilities, but through perfect positioning on that end. The number of charges drawn in this one should tell you enough about how this game went, but even on rotations, this team found themselves in the right spot time and time again. Many may look at a stat sheet from the second half and say Indiana had an off shooting stretch, but it was actually the pressure Miami put on them on that end when the offensive stuff wasn’t clicking. But after the team offense truly never “clicked,” the defense finally broke down late, leading to an overtime loss.

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Breaking Down the Shifting Role of Butler, Adebayo, and Herro

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In many ways, Kyle Lowry doesn’t have a true weakness at this stage of his career.

He can still hold his own at the point of attack, sets others up in a way that Miami hasn’t had in forever, and can win a game by 42 points with only 1 field goal made.

In that all-around role, it has shown an incredible expansion for the players around him. The 27 points from Tyler Herro, 21 points from Jimmy Butler, and 20 points from Bam Adebayo isn’t the only reason I say that after beating a Bucks team without key players, but instead it’s the way they’re generating these looks and scoring 137 points in a game.

This is a super talented defensive team, but the descriptions don’t end there: this team can put up points…

Bam Adebayo:

Kyle Lowry Forcing Him into More and More Shot Attempts

How is Bam Adebayo’s aggression coming together so fluidly to begin the year. Is it the natural evolution of a young player like Erik Spoelstra noted? Is Adebayo going through those motions with a purpose? Or is it just simply Kyle Lowry?

Adebayo seems to think it’s the latter.

“It’s really because of Kyle in all honesty.”

It’s one thing to just put it out there in that sense, but it’s another thing for it to be absolutely correct when watching the game film. Yes, we see Adebayo “just going” even when Lowry is on the sideline, but there’s a specific edge and confidence that Lowry is feeding into.

Just take a look at the first clip: Adebayo has Giannis Antetokounmpo in space with an empty corner, but decides to pass back out to Lowry instead.

What does Lowry do? He immediately reinserts that ball into Adebayo in the post, and clears out to the opposite side of the floor. This isn’t last year when the guard would stand at the top of the key as a safety blanket for Adebayo’s eventual kick-out. This is Lowry saying ‘you’re shooting this ball no matter what.’

Consequently, Adebayo jabs and fires away for a bucket, which he did many times in this game. Even when speaking with media post-game, he noted that’s been a point of emphasis with him during the off-season. He’s comfortable with that jab jumper, and it’s not just a space provider. It’s a rhythm shot for him.

Lastly, there’s something else to pick up on with these two Adebayo shot attempts. His point of operation.

Adebayo calls it “picking his spots more,” but I call it “not needing to be the elbow release valve every play.” Now, he’s able to work from that inner wing or baseline where he has the space to do many different things.

It’s not just about Lowry making Adebayo take those shots in clear-outs. It’s the responsibilities Lowry has stripped from Adebayo to just be himself.

Some Fast-Break Magic

The Heat finished this game with a transition frequency of 20.2%. Last season, they were 14.9% across the 72 game season.

It’s only one game, but you can tell this is a long term thing. Guys like Lowry and Herro love that style of play, but Adebayo has finally embraced it, which is a scary thing.

Nobody can truly keep up with a coast to coast Adebayo on a nightly basis, and one guy that could probably slow him down better than anybody is the guy he matched up with last night: Antetokounmpo.

Euro-steps, downhill collisions. We’re seeing it all from Adebayo on the break, and it’s not because anybody on the floor is forcing him into that. He’s just finally freed up.

This team is built to run, and they’re embodying that already. But if Adebayo is the pace initiator throughout the season like he did in this season opener, it’ll be quite the offensive agenda for defenses to try and scheme against.

Jimmy Butler:

Defensive Freelancing is Upon Us

I brought this up a ton throughout the game last night, since well, it’s something I’ve noted since the Lowry acquisition was finalized.

We knew what Lowry would do for Adebayo in terms of unlocking things offensively. We knew giving Herro a pure point guard for the first time in his career would do wonders. But it just felt like the defensive shift from Butler was more important than anything else.

Butler is obviously one of the game’s best defenders, but I wouldn’t say he does it in a way that many of the other players in his category do it. Like Adebayo for example, we see his greatness on the ball by swarming smaller guards and things of that nature.

But Butler, on the hand, does it in the shadows.

He’s an off-ball master in that sense. It’s something I’ve broken down many times leading up to this point, since the additions of PJ Tucker and Lowry meant more reps for Butler outside of the offensive actions.

Timely doubles is his specialty, and he’s going to be a looming free safety all season, sending that all-out blitz more times than not.

Looking at the clips above, you can see this all happening in the first few minutes of the game. Gambling on some cross-court doubles once Antetokounmpo turned was something I expected, but the interesting part about it was he wasn’t holding back.

Not a ton of show-and-go to say the least, it was just pure willingness to swarm these guys who weren’t his assignment. And well, that is Jimmy Butler.

That will be Jimmy Butler all season.

A Simple Game of One-On-One

Walking into the Miami Heat practice facility after they finish practicing, there’s a consistent theme.

On one side of the court, there is Jimmy Butler going one-on-one with different coaches, trainers, and players for about 30 minutes every day. Udonis Haslem was the one a few days ago getting in those defensive reps, as they went at each other in a one-on-one setting where Butler fits in best.

And going through those motions isn’t just for some extra sweat and cardio. There’s a purpose, and that was seen in this game against Milwaukee.

Lowry does take a lot of pressure off Adebayo, but he also puts Butler in better spots to score as he noted after the game. In other words, Butler finds himself playing one-on-one in the half-court a bunch, doing it as loose as he does against UD after practice.

But Butler’s game hasn’t changed at all, so why is this important to note?

Well, Butler’s game may not have changed, but the team around him has. Looking at the clips above, nobody can fully commit to the double that they always seemed to do last season with zero reluctance. No knock to guys like Kendrick Nunn, but they had certain limitations on that kick-out that Lowry just doesn’t obtain.

If they double team Butler in that fashion, you’re not only at risk of giving up a Lowry three, but you’re also giving him a 4 on 3 on the backside, which is one of his best offensive skills in terms of decision making.

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Allowing Butler to play one-on-one all day is a treat, and it gives this Heat offense a fun wrinkle that they weren’t able to fully commit to in the past. (And yes he missed in that clip, which is new after watching him go 1 on 1 last night)

Tyler Herro:

Confidence is Higher, Release Point is Higher

We’re officially at the point where a 27 point performance from Tyler Herro off the bench to kick off the season doesn’t even surprise anybody. It’s just normal now.

So many limitations that were once placed on him as a scorer with the constant necessity for a screen are no longer in place. It’s not that he added a bunch of unstoppable combos to get to his spots. It’s just a simple formula.

Confidence is higher and his release point is higher.

In many ways, those two things can go hand in hand. When a player is having an off game and confidence is lowered, you always begin to notice shots being short due to them becoming flat-footed.

But when that confidence is as high as Herro’s is at the moment, that shot is higher than any defender’s wingspan.

He’s rising over the top of defenders all over the floor, and he isn’t being fazed by contests. It’s a skill that has pretty much gone under the radar for Duncan Robinson over the years, since essentially blocking out a defenders close-out can change a scorer’s outlook.

And Herro’s outlook has completely changed.

Some may think these points are being overstated, but they absolutely aren’t: placing Herro in this simplified bench role is the reason for him emerging. Play-making and rebounding have been sprinkled in through the natural flow of the game, but he’s not being asked to do any of that.

Mostly since Butler or Lowry are lined up next to him at all times.

“I love playing with Kyle,” Herro said about Lowry. “My first two years in the league I didn’t really have a point guard who could get everyone organized, and that’s no knock on my former teammates.”

And that last part is the truth. Guys like Goran Dragic were great for the original growth of Herro, and what they brought on a regular basis, but that just wasn’t his role. Dragic was in a scoring role as a scoring guard, but now Miami has that pure point they’ve been missing.

Or should I say, that Herro’s been missing.

Inside Game Coming Along for One Reason

A three-level scorer is emerging. The mid-range game from Herro has been pretty close to unstoppable through the preseason and first regular season game, his outside shooting has been highly efficient, and the inside game in question has been tweaked now as well.

The floater has been an interesting gadget for him, since it means he isn’t one dimensional inside the paint. Instead of spamming underhand scoop layups on every pick and roll drive, he has an outlet that can be relied on.

And well, that floater has been a constant sticking point after these Heat practices.

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It isn’t just about the floater either. The added muscle that he put on has entered the equation as well, and I think we’re seeing just where he added that weight.

Going back to my earlier point of firing over the top of defenses with a high release point, the added strength in his legs is the main reason for that. But it seems like that behind the scenes work has gave him the confidence to embrace contact more and more.

Looking at the first clip above, Herro wasn’t doing that last year. Going right at that dropping big, bumping him with his shoulder, then fading away with the bank. That right there is a new Tyler Herro.

And in the big picture, nothing is better than a ‘more’ confident Herro at this stage. And who is feeding him that confidence? His teammates around him, as he’s illustrated over 20 times since camp ended.

And that is a major shift for him. It’s a major shift for this team. And that domino effect all started when Lowry landed in Miami.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Dominant Season Opener

The Miami Heat clearly came out with some extra motivation against this Milwaukee Bucks team. First quarter dominance on both ends blended into a pretty one-sided game throughout.

Who stuck out in this season opener? Well, that’s the interesting part: everybody.

#1: Bam Adebayo’s offensive aggression pops early.

A topic fresh in our minds when we see Bam Adebayo and the Heat facing the Milwaukee Bucks is his offensive aggression, following Brook Lopez’s willingness to give Adebayo all of the space in the world in the previous series. To kick off this season opener, three of the first four offensive possessions for Miami consisted of an Adebayo shot attempt. Yeah, things have changed. Adebayo only trailed Tyler Herro in shot attempts at the half, but his willingness to take it to the rim and absorb contact time and time again is the difference maker. Five free throw attempts through 16 first half minutes proved that to be true, while the makes on the other hand were a bit uneven. But nobody is worried about Adebayo knocking down shots at any point this season, it’s about taking them. And he did that in the season opener.

#2: Jimmy Butler’s new defensive role enhances his best skill, as I expected.

Something I’ve talked about all off-season after PJ Tucker and Kyle Lowry were acquired is the shift for Jimmy Butler’s role. Not offensively, but the change in defensive positioning for him. No more being inserted into the action play after play throughout a game, since they have enough bodies to throw at those guys now. That meant Butler would be lined up on the weak-side a majority of the time, doing what he does best: awaiting timely doubles. As I said in my game preview, Butler’s defensive signal will be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s post-up game. When he pivots inside with his back against the perimeter, a Butler sprint would closely follow. That’s exactly what happened tonight, and although it wasn’t a flurry of steals on the stat sheet, it was forced steals and plenty of deflections.

#3: It only took one game to figure out PJ Tucker’s fit on this Heat team.

After Pat Riley’s press conference this week, now you know why he went on and on about the likable traits of PJ Tucker with this team. Toughness, scrappiness, and defensive traits that aren’t teachable. You can just tell that this game was personal for him, and he seemed to let that be known. Being vocal after big plays, eyeing that Milwaukee sideline, and even throwing in the occasional hard foul. Seeing him dive over the Bucks bench with a comfortable lead in the second quarter just speaks volume. He’s going to defend at a high level and knock down that corner triple at a high level, but the other stuff is what truly makes this pick-up a big deal. This Heat team missed that loud voice next to Butler, and now they have it.

#4: Simply, Tyler Herro’s role is quite perfect.

When I talked to Max Strus earlier in the week about his offensive role off the bench, he quickly premised it by saying, “The second unit is to get Tyler going.” And well, that is far from an overstatement. Even when Butler or Lowry are lined up next to Tyler Herro, they immediately revert to an off-ball role, knowing that Herro needs the ball in his hands to work. Twelve shot attempts at the half for Herro was a team high, which is interesting for a guy who is coming off the bench. But that’s what the Heat want. Fire away in that scoring role, and don’t worry about the other elements. Let the play-making and facilitating stuff happen in the natural flow of the game, and simply: just get buckets.

#5: Oh, this isn’t just a defensive team.

When looking at this Heat team on paper, the outlier is that this is a hefty defensive group. Aside from Herro and Robinson, the rotation is pretty much filled with tough, defensive minded guys which is something they’ve lacked recently. But don’t sell the theme of this group short: they can score the basketball. 72 first half points can pretty much tell the whole story, but there’s a difference with that statement. They didn’t have a Jaylon Brown scoring 25 before the half or Julius Randle scoring 22. The scoring on this team was spread out evenly, which will most likely be the case throughout this 82 game season. Butler will get his points, Adebayo will emerge, Lowry will step back at times, and Herro will do his thing. And that’s what you want.

EDITOR’S NOTE: FIVE REASONS SPORTS IS PARTNERING WITH OUR GOOD FRIENDS OVER AT PICKUP TO GIVE AWAY FANATICS ($20 VALUE) TO 3 LUCKY WINNERS. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS MAKE YOUR PICK ON THE PICKUP PROP IN THIS ARTICLE AND FOLLOW THE STEPS TO VERIFY YOUR PICK FOR A CHANCE TO WIN.

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Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882

Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks Season Opener Scouting Report

The Milwaukee Bucks came out hot to kick off their season on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, and that’s something Miami truly needs this season as well: to come out hot.

Pat Riley went into detail in a Tuesday afternoon presser about the strength of their early season schedule, highlighting the fact that they have 13 road games in their first 20 and started out the year 7-14 last season.

So, it’s pretty clear: an opening night win at home against the Bucks could truly put this Heat team on the right track.

The last time I wrote up this type of scouting report was throughout the Heat’s first round playoff series last season against……oh, the Milwaukee Bucks. But this time around, there are different circumstance in terms of roster construction.

Anyway, let’s take a dive into each side of the ball for Miami, finding ways they can come out the gates firing with this new team…

Offensively:

Attacking Switches: A Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry Staple, A Bam Adebayo Necessity

One of the main reasons Milwaukee was able to put it together last season was their willingness to become more flexible on the defensive end come playoff time. Living or dying by that drop coverage can get you in trouble with certain teams, and one of those teams is this new look Heat team.

But on the way to an NBA Championship last season, the switching scheme became a staple of their defensive ways. Guys like Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo can truly swarm you when blitzing a PnR, which was a decent refresher for that group of guys.

Now, it’s time for Miami to adjust to the adjustment. A staple of Jimmy Butler’s game is taking advantage of mismatches in the half-court, pulling a slow-footed big out to the perimeter before exploding by for a quick bump and yell to get to that coveted free throw line.

That’ll always be there for Butler, but that isn’t the true difference maker. Kyle Lowry is pretty much in that same category as well, but he does it in a completely different way. He doesn’t create mismatches for himself. He creates them for his big man down low.

And well, it’s why Bam Adebayo can truly exploit the defense, which will be a common takeaway all season.

Adebayo is going to draw a Grayson Allen or George Hill on the block once or twice, and there must be a mental preparation for those possessions. No quick turnaround inside the free-throw line to let them off the hook. No kick-outs to Lowry so he can try and drum something up against a big. Just play bully ball.

Why is this so important? Well, it’s not just about putting points on the board on those limited possessions. It’s about what will closely follow.

After watching the Bucks face the Nets on Tuesday, a major takeaway about Antetokounmpo is that you have to account for him on the defensive end at all times, and even more so when he’s on that weak-side lurking.

With that said, Adebayo taking advantage of the mismatch once or twice in the first half means that he’ll be pulling Antetokounmpo in closer and closer, which is the ultimate goal for Miami’s offensive structure. Adebayo can then land in his comfort zone of skip passes and over the top play-making.

It’s why that one element of attacking the switch opens everything else up. If that aggression isn’t seen from the jump, there’s a good shot this could be one of those games in the mud.

Tyler Herro’s Broader Bag = Extensive Combos Against Drop in the Mid-Range

Switching may be a staple for them, but Brook Lopez continues to be fantastic in that drop on a regular basis. It was the one area that I said could be exploited in the playoffs last year by Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, and Tyler Herro.

The one thing about all three of those guys last year was that mid-range game was extremely one dimensional. It was that elbow pull-up each and every possession, and those weren’t even falling in that series. No adjustment was needed from the Bucks, since Miami was basically hurting themselves.

Now without Dragic and Nunn, that mid-range game declined in a way that Milwaukee can sustain that drop, right? Wrong.

Aside from going through other options for Miami inside the arc, Tyler Herro is the guy who can really get up those shots that he loved in the preseason. It’s no longer the simple, linear pull-up. It’s pull-back dribbles, step-backs, and over the top jumpers with that high lift from that in-between game.

And that can be killer.

As Max Strus said when I talked to him after practice, “The second unit is to get Tyler going.” He’s going to be getting up a ton of shots night in and night out, but Thursday’s match-up may even mean it’ll be on the higher end with what will be given to him.

Can he carry over that preseason success? The door is open for him to kick it off in the right way.

Defensively:

PJ Tucker on Brook Lopez, Bam Adebayo on Giannis Antetokounmpo?

When looking at pure on-paper match-ups for these two teams, it’s pretty intriguing: Lowry on Holiday, Robinson on Allen, Butler on Middleton, and well, the front-court match-ups.

It feels like it’ll be a deal where they mix it up a bit throughout, especially with Coach Spo not wanting Adebayo to get in early foul trouble, but I think that adjustment will be made once we hear that first whistle.

PJ Tucker’s size doesn’t equate to length on the 7 foot Brook Lopez, but it does equate to width. He can defend the post at a high level against bigger guys, and Miami’s scheme will have plenty of doubles flying from all over the place.

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What is the difference between this discussion now and last year? The match-ups can actually be debated.

The same goes for the way the roster was constructed in the bubble, where Adebayo and Jae Crowder could constantly rotate match-ups, while throwing in Andre Iguodala and Soloman Hill to muck things up on Milwaukee’s solid front-court.

Lowry gave this team added offensive weapons, but Tucker gave this team added defensive weapons. And the on-paper match-ups tell the whole story in that sense.

The Jimmy Butler Specialty Incoming: Timely Doubles

As I’ve said many times: Jimmy Butler’s best skill in the game of basketball is weak-side defending.

He’s going to be outside the action much more this season which is favorable to him, but the Middleton match-up will most likely pull him into a heavy on-ball defensive role this Thursday.

Some interesting wrinkles that Brooklyn through at Antetokounmpo were constant doubles, but the timing of them always seemed off, leading to a 32/14/7 night. But since this is a “scouting report,” there’s a specific moment when that double is needed, and Butler will pick up on this quickly.

One thing about Butler is that he’s a sneaky doubler. He waits for that guy with the ball in his hands to turn away, then he instinctively sprints at him from the backside. Similarly, Antetokounmpo is a guy who turns into those pivoted stances inside the arc, opening up that gateway for Butler.

Leaving his back vulnerable on the block with Tucker or Adebayo holding him down in the post will be a good starting point for the defensive structure. Make Antetokounmpo uncomfortable, force him into that extra pass, and key-in on those close-outs that this starting lineup will be so good with.

In my opinion, this should be a 3+ steal night for Butler with the new play-style.

Wild Card:

Taking Advantage of Milwaukee’s Full Bench Lineups

Miami has played victim recently with opposing teams exploding when the top dogs were getting a breather on the sideline, but that won’t be the case much this year for the Heat.

It’ll be a revolving door of Butler, Lowry, and Adebayo, while Herro’s offensive emergence will take enough pressure off of them while they’re on the floor.

For Milwaukee, there are a few stretches that Miami will have to take advantage of. For one, Jrue Holiday’s status may be in question after he left Tuesday’s game with a heel contusion, so these “lineups” I’m discussing will be seen even more often.

Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Holiday all found themselves on the sideline early in that season opener, and that should be a signal to just go, especially for the team’s energy flame Tyler Herro.

That’ll be the wild card. Upon seeing a five-man group of the supporting cast, it’ll be time for Miami to really capitalize in ways so many teams did against them last season.

“He wasn’t happy with losing and getting swept and being embarrassed,” Pat Riley said about Jimmy Butler’s attitude following that playoff series. And now it’s time to showcase that in a brand new season, with a brand new team, and a brand new mindset.

This team may have gotten plenty of physical rest, but mental rest was also taken into account. And that element was even more important for this group of guys.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882

The Expansion of Bam Adebayo is Upon Us Once Again

“Picking my spots where I can actually really excel at, and not getting bored with scoring off that every play.”

That was what Bam Adebayo stated on media day, recapping his off-season focuses heading into a brand new season. Many may have skipped over that specific comment of his during that presser, but it was probably the most important quote of them all.

Why is that? Well, it pretty much looked like he was getting “bored” from those same spots all of last season. What spot was that exactly? Elbow touch, elbow touch, and even more elbow touches.

It wasn’t that it was a bad game-plan, since it was highly necessary for him to be slotted there last season with the roster constructed around him. He had to be in range for the constant screening actions for Miami’s non-shot creating guards, the insert pass into a DHO on the wing was right there, and it was the first step of his evolving jumper.

He would receive that ball at the free throw line, essentially with two ways to score: drive hard to the basket with limited space or let that mid-range jumper fly. And as much as people loved to highlight his aggression last year, his jump-shot attempts sky-rocketed.

But here we are yet again, looking at a guy in the preseason who is ready to explode once more. Part of it is natural evolution of a young player, but there’s an extra element to why this expansion is occurring now.

And his name is Kyle Lowry.

Like I said before, Adebayo’s role last season was simple and closed in because it was important for offensive flow. Adding Lowry to the equation pretty much means Adebayo can throw away most of his trends from last year.

That begins with his spotting in the half-court. It’s no more elbow spectating while someone is probing on the perimeter. It’s no more strong side spamming for him. Now, it’s Bam Adebayo being Bam Adebayo.

Looking at the clips above, there’s a common theme in his offensive set-up. He’s now starting right inside the wing, which may not seem like a huge shift, but it actually is.

The first two clips are a bit different, but can be equally effective. The first is a jumbled up strong-side corner but Adebayo still manages to get to his spot for the floater, then grab his own offensive rebound for the eventual and-1. The second clip is an empty corner, leading to a back-down for a turn-around bank shot in the mid-range.

What is the difference between those plays and his elbow set-up last season? Well, the space he has to operate is so much broader right now.

I asked Adebayo about that shift in his game where that ball is being inserted, which he said, “It’s just realizing I have space. I feel like that was the biggest thing for me last year, I didn’t realize how much space I really had. So, I’m definitely looking to keep being aggressive, finding those gaps, trying to get fouled, get easy buckets, and help my team.”

And that realization in how much space he has can be a true difference maker. He has the attributes to both drive when defenders close-out and pull when defenders sink, but maximizing his spots on the floor is the crucial part. Or better yet, diversifying his spots on the floor.

Once that skill is fully attained, which it seems like he’s getting very close, then yet another leap will be happening right in front of our eyes.

The guys on this Heat team have been urging Adebayo to go into that takeover mode for a while from a verbal standpoint. But Kyle Lowry, on the other hand, is currently forcing Adebayo into that from a physical stand-point.

What I mean by that is he’s going to feed him whenever he sees an advantage, and immediately clear out. Looking at the clip above, they force a mismatch, Lowry gets it to him and spreads out as much as possible. Lowry isn’t enabling him to give it right back to his above the break safety net.

It’s go time, and that’s the only option.

Taking advantage of mismatches on the block was a major point of emphasis by many last season when discussing Adebayo. He may not have been super comfortable with his back to the basket, but when you have a guard on the block, that extra size must be utilized.

I asked Adebayo about that skill from Lowry to somehow always find him when he has a size advantage, which he said, “He’s like the director for traffic.” Adebayo paused for a second to ask how many assists Lowry had in the game, which the response was five. He says “mother-f*****” under his breath then jokingly says, “Yeah, five. Kyle’s taking all of my assists but I’m okay with it right now. I’m not really mad about it as long as we keep winning.”

“He’s controlling the tempo for us, he’s controlling the pace, and we’re just getting out and running,” Adebayo continued.

The full-court set-ups on the break from Lowry are great. The lob passes in the pick and roll are fantastic. But the ability to put him in different spots on the floor that he hasn’t been able to operate from up to this point is the true treasure of the acquisition.

Lastly, many have their opinions on the dribble hand-off. It has been a major staple of the Heat’s offense, and became an unstoppable combo between Adebayo and outside sniper Duncan Robinson.

The issue is that it became pretty stale last season, which felt like a major theme of last year’s dragged out season. Adebayo would get the ball at that elbow and drift out with his eyes roaming sideline to sideline. Offense was trying to be generated, but Adebayo’s self-creation was being held back.

Now, of course, that’ll still be a base to what Miami runs this season, but it’ll be in different ways. Like a main one: not Adebayo as the one handing it off, but instead, Adebayo receiving the hand-off.

Take a look at the play above, which wasn’t the only time this was seen in this game.

No switch is forced, no true advantage is created through that action, but this actually transcends any of that. It got Adebayo plowing to the rim in space. He wasn’t being trapped from double teams and triple teams. It’s just him, his defender, and the rim.

I asked Lowry about playing with a center who is able to create for himself in that fashion when receiving the hand-off from a guard, which he responded, “It’s great. It makes the game a lot easier and he’ll just continue to get better. He’ll find the ways to make plays for everyone else off that hand-off and off the dribble, and that’s gonna be huge for our offense long term.”

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The starting point to Lowry landing in Miami was his close friend Jimmy Butler, but the guy who will continually keep him engaged and invested is Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo is still growing, still expanding, and still proving people wrong with that continued chip on his shoulder. We’ve seen him make that leap in the past, but that definitely wasn’t his last.

Butler propelled Adebayo’s game when he first arrived, and now it’s Lowry’s turn. And it’s going to be in a much bigger fashion.

Adebayo isn’t just trying to be one of the top guys on a contending team in the East. He’s on his way to becoming “the” guy with the picture perfect supporting cast around him.

 

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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Home Preseason Match Against Charlotte

The Miami Heat basically rolled out the entire season rotation on Monday night, except for a main factor: Jimmy Butler. Continued reps for the very important duo of Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo, a rough shooting night for Tyler Herro following his three game master class, and some lineup fun from Erik Spoelstra.

Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Caleb Martin gets the start…and I think we see this often.

With Jimmy Butler out, Caleb Martin slotted into the starting lineup against his former team, seeing a familiar match-up in Cody Martin. Looking at the history of Erik Spoelstra, two-way guys are essentially starting lineup replacers. Why is that? Well, he’s never been interested in messing up the chemistry of the rotation, leading to him pulling a guy up from the bottom of the roster. Just ask Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. Martin has looked like he can handle that responsibility as well, not just through his shot creating actions on the offensive side of the ball, but his gritty defensive presence instead. Just looking at this game for example, Martin was immediately inserted into the Jimmy Butler role, crossing the half-court line with the ball in his hands. I believe we see more of that.

#2: The size Bam Adebayo has put on is a difference maker on many possessions.

Bam Adebayo has shown major differences in the way he’s going about things in the preseason. Operating from the mid-range wing instead of the elbow, giving him more room to operate with the ball in his hands, ultimately opening up his driving game. The other big difference maker with Adebayo is his noticeable added size. How does that change things? It’s not something you’re going to see on a stat-sheet, or something that’ll jump off the TV screen, but he’s finishing possessions in ways I don’t think he would’ve last season. Grabbing rebounds in traffic, hooking defenders in the post (which I don’t think is legal,) and taking it to the rim stronger for more free throw attempts. There’s no doubt it’ll shift many parts of his game in a positive direction.

#3: The minute distribution of Tyler Herro was preparation for the regular season.

When you see Martin inserted into the starting lineup, it was an indictment on the recent play of Tyler Herro. That should go without saying since Herro has led the league in scoring through three games, but as much as it’s preseason for players, it’s coaching reps as well. Developing some type of rhythm in the rotation is necessary, and that’s what was seen for the role of Herro. Entering at the six minute mark of the first quarter, and exiting at about the two minute mark of the second quarter. The point is that Herro is going to get plenty of playing time, and it’ll be with a bunch of different combos. Today was unique since he won’t be in many lineups with 4 other bench guys, but being the lead man is important as well. And truly, Butler will plug many weaknesses that may be seen.

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#4: Once again, Markieff Morris needs to be a mid-range spot-up guy instead of the three-point spot-up guy.

Markieff Morris is an interesting piece for this Heat team. He has played his defensive role perfectly with the extra size on the interior, but the offensive stuff is still in question. Outside shooting hasn’t been his closest friend so far, but does it have to be? I mean, it would be very helpful for the team’s offensive success, but combining high volume and low efficiency isn’t a great mixture. Moving to different spots on the floor, like the middle of the court, has shown to be a much more comfortable spot for him. It places him into a simple role: corner kick-out, lob pass to the big in the dunker spot, or a mid-range jumper. Making that his home-base on the offensive end will do wonders, but I guess it is just the preseason.

#5: Kyle Lowry at the forefront of all of Miami’s most effective offensive sets.

This may be a pretty obvious statement to just throw out there, but it’s pretty much transferred over perfectly in every way you look at Miami’s offense tonight. Kyle Lowry may be that fast-break presence who can truly push the pace to get the ball up the floor, but his half-court control is what this team has missed. Running plenty of that two-man game with Bam Adebayo is a great starting point. And it’s not just about that coveted lob pass that Adebayo will see a ton this season, but instead Lowry’s ability to hunt his teammates’ mismatches. That’s an incredible skill to have, especially considering Adebayo has been a guy who has needed that extra push. And yet, it’s only the preseason. Back-to-back wing triples from Lowry may stand out from tonight, but it’s everything else that really matters.

 

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Breaking Down Lowry’s Impact, Herro’s Role, and Adebayo’s Pacing

The Miami Heat came out in their first preseason game in an interesting fashion. With Jimmy Butler getting the night off, Tyler Herro stepped into the starting lineup with the usual crew, playing next to newcomer Kyle Lowry.

Before diving into specifics, there is one overarching thought that should be addressed: the things discussed about Lowry’s immediate impact on this team weren’t being overstated.

He changes the speed of the team, the energy of the team, and well, it’s something fresh.

Just like Bam Adebayo stated on media day, he was getting bored of being in the same spots on the floor every night. When playing next to Lowry, though, you must always be on your toes for that ball to fall right into your hands in stride.

Guys like Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin had great flashes as well, but in this piece, we’re going to focus on that starting group only. So, let’s hop right into it…

Lowry-Herro-Adebayo Three Man Sets:

I focused a lot on three-man sets when predicting the offensive actions Miami would run. The difference is that I said the Lowry-Robinson-Adebayo trio would be run the most.

But after Herro was inserted into the starting lineup, they began to run things with a purpose, looking like that group has been preparing in these slotted roles throughout the entire camp.

Looking at the first clip above, it’s simple: Lowry orchestrating, Adebayo screening for Herro to come off the curl, a 2 on 1 is forced, and Herro lobs it up for Adebayo to throw down. You know what I notice here? Comfort.

The other thing about this grouping is that it doesn’t always have to be Lowry setting others up, since his off-ball skill is absolutely a treasure. When I watched that scrimmage last Friday, one of my main takeaways with Herro was that the ball was going to be in his hands a ton. Emphasis on “a ton.”

And yet, that carried over quite a bit.

In that second clip, Herro comes up to receive the ball as Lowry relocates to the right wing. The 2 on 1 is forced pretty effortlessly as Adebayo slips, but something else stands out more.

Just watch Lowry and Trae Young. Obviously focusing on the defensive stuff with Young isn’t important, but notice the downhill space Herro is given. There’s no cut-off at the nail with Lowry being such a spot-up threat, leading to more and more lob opportunities. Or better yet, the floater.

Herro talked a little bit after the game about using that floater, even though it’s been in his bag for some time. He mentioned finding that middle ground instead of continuing to take it up on centers at the rim every play.

What is the difference with that floater now? It’s slowed down. He knew when the lob pass was being thrown up or when to shoot up that tear dropper. Even when the game is being played at a faster pace, he looks like he’s playing slower with the ball in his hands, and that’s a difference maker.

Finally, in the last clip, we see something a bit different. It clearly ended up in a failed lob pass, but the stuff run before that is more important. DHO’s have been a staple of this Heat offense for some time now, and while many hate to hear that phrase after it was previously spammed and overused, it isn’t going anywhere.

In fact, it’s going to be expanded upon. What I mean by that is that it won’t just be a Robinson-Adebayo set every time, since others can be mixed in positively. Just look at that final clip: Lowry hands it off to Adebayo and Adebayo hands it off to Herro for the double DHO.

DHO’s won’t be stagnant anymore. This stuff keeps the defense moving, and enhances each of those guys best skills. Let me just say, that three-man group will be effective. And it’s also clear the speed will be faster when all three of them are on the floor together.

Lowry’s First Three Tells Me Everything I Need to Know

When I say “Lowry’s first three,” I don’t mean ever. You may think that’s unnecessary to state, but it’s actually very necessary.

Aside from that, this one possession tells me a lot about this Heat offense this season.

Let’s start with that “speed” that continues to get brought up. The ball crosses half-court with 20 seconds on the shot clock, and the ball is being released with 18 seconds on the shot clock. That hasn’t been Miami Heat basketball up to this point, but it has been Kyle Lowry basketball.

Early offense could be crucial for this squad. Why is that? Well, the stuff that can be run early in the shot-clock heavily benefits this roster. Double drag ball screens, or just a simple drag as seen here.

Now, what is the second thing that stands out on this play? And no, it’s not Lowry.

Going back to that DHO discussion from before, it got pretty bland after a while because Adebayo was being forced into doing it every single time. When the team acquired PJ Tucker, I saw a plan rising out of nowhere.

Tucker may be somewhat limited offensively, but running hand-offs like this above is what will propel Adebayo even more. This allows him to play off the catch a bunch, and as seen yesterday, he got even more ball-handling reps than I originally expected.

The reason he was able to do that was because he was finally freed up. Tucker’s job will be simple this season, and Adebayo has needed “simple” in the front-court next to him for a while.

And of course, the last thing about this play is that Lowry above the break three. Miami has needed a guy who can punish defenses for going under on screens, and Lowry will do just that. It’s not about milking clock with him, it’s about getting the ball up when there’s an opening.

And once again, this Heat team missed that.

Is Adebayo’s Pace Just Due to Lowry’s Presence?

A hot topic since adding Lowry to this team was the pace that they could potentially play at. Coach Spo has typically played much more in the half-court in the past, but it was time to tend to the personnel.

I even asked Adebayo about playing at that speed in the scrimmage, which he said it’s important to get easy layups and fouls, since that’ll lead to open threes. And well, that was seen immediately in the first preseason game.

I talked about Adebayo getting in the open court nonstop last season, but this team translates to that way more. But is it just because of Lowry?

He’s a big part of that, but I wouldn’t say it’s just him. The first clip above will tell you why it’s not.

Lowry and Tucker defending the PnR, leads to Tucker stepping up for the steal and hitting the deck. Adebayo scoops and runs up the floor for the eventual foul.

What’s important about that? Well, that would’ve been Adebayo on the floor last season. They now have others who can play in the action at a high level, which hugely benefits Adebayo.

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Now, of course, the majority of the credit goes to Lowry. Spo called him a quarter back to begin training camp, and that’s exactly what he is: full-court hit aheads, feeding the post, and the pure swing on the perimeter.

The second clip above is a true example of that. Lowry receives the ball on the run as the shot clock resets, and Adebayo is throwing it down on the other end with 20 seconds left on the clock. This looks different, but it’s a good different.

Some Spain PnR Already?

Not to continually bring up the DHO of the past, but there was a reason it was used so much: the team lacked offensive weapons, so they couldn’t really expand the offense broadly. But that changes this season.

We already got to see some Spain PnR, shout-out to Nekias Duncan of the Dunker Spot, and it didn’t consist of Butler and Lowry. I saw it a couple times in that Friday scrimmage, where Butler would have the ball, Adebayo would screen, and Lowry would screen the screener for the wide open lane.

Now we’re seeing it on the big stage with an interesting mix of guys. In that original clip, we see it lead into another Herro floater, and the reason is that he has the space every play to get it off.

For one, when Robinson screened the screener, that pop out to the wing will always pull the defender out with him. Nobody is leaving Robinson open on that pop out, which means more and more good things inside the arc for the downhill threats.

It’s not as much about them running stuff like Spain PnR yesterday, but instead, the ability to mix it up in a way they weren’t able to in the past.

Yeah, Half-Court Offense/Ball Movement is Different

This one play essentially is the theme of this team. Bringing up Lowry as a quarterback and a fast paced player doesn’t always mean in the open court. It’s more about how they can spread the floor, swing the ball, and create good looks.

Herro dribbles and passes to Lowry, Lowry throws a skip pass to the opposite corner to Robinson, Robinson gets to the middle of the floor and kicks it back out to Lowry in the corner, before a final swing to Herro for a contested three-point make.

That is new.

Now, I don’t want to sit here and compare the first preseason game to a playoff series last season, since they’re incredibly different circumstances, but it must be brought up.

It was stagnant offense, limited movement, limited passes, and just an offensive identity that wasn’t clear at all. Right now, I see a team that has more than enough space to work with on that side of the floor.

Go back and watch that play again. I don’t remember the last time the Heat had that much room in the half-court like they did yesterday. And while you may think a non-shooter like Butler could shrink the court, the passing and downhill gravity of his will only make this better.

It’s only one game, or one preseason game at that, but there are too many positive flashes to not feel good about this team. And well, a full off-season makes it seem like they’re fully energized for the season ahead.

Who would’ve thought?

 

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Five Takeaways from the Heat’s First Preseason Match

The Miami Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the pre-season tonight in quite a fashion. No Jimmy Butler, no problem. The rotational guys looked as effective as ever, showing a theme that’s super essential: it isn’t one guy, it’s everybody. If this Miami “team” becomes a problem, then wins will closely follow.

Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game. (And more importantly, the first of many for the season ahead)

#1: Kyle Lowry doing Kyle Lowry things, rubbing off on teammates immediately.

Well, Kyle Lowry found himself in the starting lineup for the first time in a Miami Heat uniform on Monday night, kicking off the preseason. We know what Lowry brings on a nightly basis: high level passing, off-ball talents, and strong point of attack defense. But rubbing off on teammates is the thing I noticed most. After Friday’s scrimmage, a primary takeaway of mine was that Lowry-Herro-Adebayo minutes would be fast, and clearly, they were just that. Finding ways to get those young talents out on the break was crucial, and we saw it already. It’s not just about darting down the open floor, but being set up in the open floor. And yet, QB1 Lowry will hit you in your spots.

#2: Third year Tyler Herro is in full effect.

Tyler Herro has been putting in the work all off-season, ready to attack his third season head first. So, he decided not to waste any time by scoring 20 points in the first half, going 8 of 11 from the field. The efficiency stuff is obviously important, but the speed in which he’s going about it is even more important. Starting the game with 2 floaters and a lob pass to Bam Adebayo pretty much told you he’s much more controlled in the pick and roll. He’s had that floater and lob pass in his bag for some time, but the indecisiveness when to use each one wasn’t the case tonight. Herro’s playing with a purpose, he’s playing in a simplified role, and simply, he’s getting buckets.

#3: Bam Adebayo with some more ball-handling duties.

Of course, without Jimmy Butler playing, things look a bit different, but some stuff is bigger than who is in or out of the lineup. The ball-handling duties are going to be spread between Lowry, Herro, Butler, and the young centerpiece, Bam Adebayo. Don’t worry, Herro and Lowry got plenty of reps in that role tonight, but seeing them both deferring to Adebayo in the half-court was a beautiful sight. Why is that? Well, as Adebayo said on media day, he began getting bored in scoring in the same old spots on the floor every night. In the first preseason game, though, he was spread throughout the half-court. Freeing him up in this way to be the talented on-ball player that he is takes this team to the next tier.

#4: A consistent evaluation: among the young group at the bottom of the roster, Caleb Martin sticks out.

The Heat’s two-way spots are pretty much a revolving door. At one point in this game, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin all shared the floor together for some pretty decent minutes on both ends. Why is that important? Well, not only is it abnormal for 2 past two-ways and 1 current two-way to be out there together, but more importantly, they all have a shot to contribute this season. Martin may have been the final addition to the roster, but it’s clear to many that it was an absolute steal. He is an athletic finisher, can create for himself at a high level, and really showed a hounding defensive presence on the perimeter. Coach Spo loves plug and play guys, and that is Caleb Martin. I’d expect to see him a bit this season.

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#5: Miami’s front-court depth may not be perfect, but they have options.

The Heat’s front-court looks a bit different this season. Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon are the familiar faces in the rotation, but others are still trying to get acquainted. Omer Yurtseven and KZ Okpala may be at the bottom of that bunch as well, but rotational minutes don’t seem to be in reasonable reach to begin the year. The reason I discuss the team having options is due to PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. Before Tucker went out with an injury, he showed his role: corner threes and running DHO’s for the offensive threats. Morris, on the other hand, wasn’t getting the friendly roll from beyond the arc, but getting him to the middle of the floor by the free throw line seemed effective. The front-court has different skills across the board, and while they aren’t perfect, options are more important on this new squad.

 

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Does the Heat’s Potential Fast Pace Play-Style Sound Better in Theory?

Looking at this Heat team on paper, there are a few things that truly stand-out: the defensive presence of this group, toughness being the theme, Victor Oladipo being the wild-card, and the potential of playing at a much faster pace.

For that last part, the key word is “potential.”

After adding Kyle Lowry to the team, it felt like Miami could turn their offensive play-style completely around from a slow-paced half-court team to a high tempo transition team. In Friday’s scrimmage, Lowry already showed his eagerness to play in that fashion.

Some Dolphins scouts may have been swarming with the amount of full-court one handed flings Lowry threw down the floor, while one ended in Jimmy Butler Mossing Max Strus before throwing the lob up to Bam Adebayo.

The other guy who really started to match that fast pace play-style was third year guard Tyler Herro.

Many immediately remember his continuous urge to pull-up from three on the break, but he really mixed some things into that transition offense. Finding that middie of his early in the shot-clock, getting to the rim with a purpose, and feeding others when they had numbers.

My first takeaway on this topic: Lowry-Herro minutes are going to play very fast.

All other combos, I’m not so sure about.

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The team began to race up the floor more and more as the scrimmage progressed, but I found a consistent result when it happened: it always ended in a kick-out for three. Sometimes it went in, other times it didn’t. And many times, it led to an eventual reset, which is right back to that previous play-style of pulling the ball back out.

Much like I said that Herro was mixing it up on the break, the team needs to mix it up as well. Obviously it’s just one scrimmage game that I’m addressing, but this feels like something that can be a topic in the near future.

When I asked Bam Adebayo after the scrimmage about playing into transition more, he responded, “I feel like in the past we’ve kinda had slow transition breaks. We’re really starting to get it up the floor, try to get easy layups, easy fouls, get to the free throw line…then all of that can get threes.”

The way that Adebayo explained it in that final sentence is how it should be approached. Allow the easy buckets around the rim and constant whistle blowing to flow into easy transition kick-outs. When it’s the other way around, nothing will end up being generated on the break, and it’ll bring Miami right back into that pull-back transition offense.

And by the way, it’s not the worst thing in the world if the Heat decide to play at a slower pace. The point is that they need a consistent approach throughout the roster, and stick to it. But in my opinion, with the weapons on this team, playing in the open court at a faster speed can do wonders for this group.

Lowry at QB, Butler and Adebayo going deep at WR, Duncan Robinson/Herro stopping at the three for the RB check-down, and Tucker at tight end for the free-flowing blocks, also known as a simple screen.

On paper, that looks picture perfect, but not everything translates over from on-paper analysis. It may take Miami some time to adjust a bit to a different game-plan potentially, but seeing it immediately seems unrealistic.

We will see simple scores from it to begin the year, but the consistency of it remains in question. It’s not just about Lowry and Herro feeling the urge to run the floor. It must be full commitment.

 

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Miami Heat Practice Scrimmage Recap

Addressing some of the overarching takeaways from the Heat’s scrimmage today:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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