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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Spurs

The Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, expanding their win streak to 3 games. Bam Adebayo early on to Jimmy Butler mid-way through to Tyler Herro closing it out, while Herro’s fourth quarter explosion was very important for his near future. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: An early aggressive Bam Adebayo sighting.

Bam Adebayo came out in this game in a way that many people would want. Attacking the basket, trying to get to the line, and most importantly, capitalizing on the mid-range jumper. When playing against a drop scheme like this, that free throw jumper was available time and time again. Although Jimmy Butler’s passive ways early didn’t take advantage of that open space, Adebayo did, which ultimately allowed Duncan Robinson to flow in nicely per usual from the outside. Even smaller moments, like the second quarter poster dunk that was changed to a charge, shows the initiation he’s taking as the offensive focal point to play some “bully ball,” as Butler likes to call it.

#2: Getting a look at the Butler-Dedmon duo.

After Jimmy Butler missed the last two games and Dewayne Dedmon got significant minutes for the first time in that span, it meant tonight would be the first time we would see those two in action together. And as I talked about before the game, it didn’t disappoint, since the initial set when he checked in was a Butler-Dedmon PnR, leading to a Dedmon slam and a Butler assist. Miami has needed to stagger Butler and Adebayo’s minutes more and more lately, but adding a consistent back-up big for Butler to rely on is a much bigger deal than originally expected. Dedmon once again gave them some solid minutes, while showcasing his current shape due to the extra minutes Spoelstra is playing him game by game.

#3: Duncan Robinson improving decision making on the move.

It’s time to discuss the undercover areas of Duncan Robinson’s game, instead of talking about the obvious abilities with his shooting. I’ve also dove into his solid defensive rotations, the off-ball screening importance for their offense, and much more. But something that must be noted is his growing decisiveness when moving downhill. It wasn’t as important to bring up in the past since he didn’t get to the rim much, but that number has been increasing as time goes by. The 2 on 1’s created by PnR’s lead to Robinson choosing between that lob pass or laying it up with confidence, which he’s surprisingly been pretty good with around the rim. The reason this is so essential is due to him gaining that trust in his own abilities, which can spark even more growth in his game throughout the season.

#4: A defensive third quarter gets Miami back into this game.

The offense seemed like it was finally tailing off in the third quarter, just like it has in many spurts throughout this season. But during those stretches, it’s time to rely on your team’s identity, and that’s exactly what Miami did. Other than Adebayo’s continued dominance in this quarter, the headline was their defense locking in after the Spurs went on a run. The Spurs did not have a made field goal for about 5 minutes of basketball, which has a lot to do with the coaching side of things. Miami went into a soft press for many possessions, which then flowed into a 2-3 zone. An intriguing element to this zone tonight was that Robinson found himself at the top of it, which may seem to be an issue in the big picture, but it was the complete opposite tonight.

#5: A rough night for Trevor Ariza, but next man up mentality comes into play.

Trevor Ariza has found himself on most of these takeaway pieces since joining the team, but this was the first night that there were some down moments. He didn’t have the same offensive impact that he’s had lately, which is expected from a role, 3 and D player, but the issues actually came on the defensive end at times. Some blown rotations, lack of effort at times, and more seemed to jump off the screen, which is when KZ Okpala came into play. Okpala got minutes tonight due to Andre Iguodala being out, and the eye test said more about his performance than the stat-sheet. Shots weren’t falling throughout, but he really had some great defensive possessions and knocked down an important triple early in the fourth. It’s the motto of this team, and next man up was in full effect tonight.

Breaking Down Miami’s Late Game Execution Against Brooklyn

After a dramatic finish in Miami against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon, all eyes are on Bam Adebayo’s finishing touch to put the game away at the buzzer. Now, although that shot was an incredible boost for this team after the recent losing streak, it’s mostly about the boost in confidence it can give Adebayo. And just plainly, he deserved that moment.

But instead of just focusing on that one shot, let’s take a ride through Miami’s execution under 4 minutes to go, since that final stretch really showed a lot of things about this team’s character in a game without Jimmy Butler.

– Trevor Ariza doing the small things

On this possession, Goran Dragic brings the ball down as Duncan Robinson runs over and slips the screen to allow him to flow into a PnR on the opposite side. They forced a switch as Bruce Brown went under to guard Adebayo, giving Dragic just enough room to pull.

Although it clanked off the rim, go back and watch Trevor Ariza on this play. When he sees Dragic get into shooting motion, he slowly crashes toward the basket. Most players would immediately bolt there when trying to get an offensive rebound, but Ariza slowly times it.

Knowing Adebayo was waiting under the rim with nobody his size next to him, Ariza taps it over to him, leading to an and-1, which was a very important spark for their offense. As much as people are pointing toward Ariza’s defense on small guards or outstanding shooting stretch, the small things that he does is the real reason for his effectiveness.

– Dragic generating offense down the stretch

One of Miami’s go to sets down the stretch of games with Goran Dragic as a ball-handler looks just like this, except it’s usually Jimmy Butler as the screener. Dragic/Butler PnR’s have been a huge bright spot in Miami’s late game offense, since they have everyone clear out, and allow Butler to catch the ball in stride on the roll where he’s at his best.

But with no Butler, they decided to do something similar yesterday, as Adebayo was the one on the roll. This is a much easier pass for Dragic to make, since they clear out the lane, meaning the only option here is to throw the lob pass.

Although there have been some down moments from Dragic recently, he’s still one of their most trusted decision makers, since his general basketball IQ makes up for that slight lack of quickness. And that was shown yesterday when the 34 year old veteran was the one making plays at the guard spot, instead of their evolving young back-court.

– Bam Adebayo predicting the offenses next move

One area of growth in Adebayo’s game has been his defensive IQ, since he’s reading offenses much quicker. Although different switches are harped on at times, that’s a scheme thing that he is asked to do, and most nights is effective when relying on backside rotations.

On this play, Bruce Brown sets the screen for Kyrie Irving, and Adebayo immediately reacts to cut him off on the roll. Another element to this is Adebayo’s comfort level when Iguodala is on the backside, since when he noticed him on that side, he knew he could roam a bit. This also shows some of Duncan Robinson’s defensive abilities from a team perspective, since he does a good job filling in the empty spots on the rotations.

This leads to a stop, but also take a look at what happens next. Something else that stuck out here is Miami’s offense looking their best when they immediately flow into their sets. It led to a foul call, but it would’ve led to an early shot either way, which shows some of the growth in their late game execution.

– Defensive IQ to offensive grit

There’s a lot to unpack here on this play, and it was by far the most impressive stretch of the game. Much like in the last clip, Ariza and Robinson blitz Irving at the top of the key, while Adebayo slides over for the cut-off. Robinson does a good job of filling in once again, as Adebayo absolutely blankets Landry Shamet, forcing a contested Jeff Green jumper.

Now, on the offensive side of the ball, Miami works the ball into Adebayo halfway through the shot-clock as he’s being fronted by Brown once again. Irving comes over for the double as he catches it, meaning he has somebody open on the opposite side. Dragic’s cut to the basket is the most underrated part of this possession, since that eliminates Green from being able to recover on a kick-out.

Ariza missed the open three, but after Adebayo and Dragic fight for the board down low, Dragic ends up with it and kicks it out to Ariza again. Except this time, he blows by Green and takes the contact to convert on a tough layup to cut the lead to two. Once again, he does the small things, but obviously this time it wasn’t so small. When re-watching this fourth quarter, I was really surprised how active he was on every single play, ultimately becoming a major reason that Miami came out with a win.

– The positive Adebayo switches

There’s a chance the title of this article could be called the Adebayo and Ariza show, since that’s basically what it came down to on most possessions. A major reason the Ariza pick-up was so crucial for Miami to plug into the starting four spot, was for plays like this, where Adebayo is able to switch without worrying about a fellow big struggling with the switch.

As I’ve repeated over and over, Ariza defends guards as good as anybody, meaning late game situations when he’s guarding Irving, leads to the ball-handler searching for a switch that doesn’t get much easier. Adebayo gets put on an island with him, and does what he does best, make shooters uncomfortable.

Irving’s signature behind the back dribble eliminates most players from the play immediately, but not Adebayo. He recovers rather effortlessly, as it clanks off the rim, giving Miami another opportunity. Oh and by the way, Irving was 0 for 8 from the field yesterday when Adebayo was defending him.

– Iguodala clamps to a downhill Dragic

The best intro to this possession would just be listening to what Mark Jones says to begin the play. “Iguodala this time on Irving, last time it was Ariza.” Since that right there is what makes this Heat team so interesting, due to the fact that they can throw a bunch of versatile and veteran wings on star players.

Iguodala doesn’t budge one bit when sticking with Irving, which may have a bit to do with him guarding him time and time again in past Finals match-ups. He finally falls for the ball-fake in the corner, but well, somehow stays with it to alter Irving’s shot again.

As Dragic grabs the ball off the rim, it’s pretty clear that there wasn’t any additional thoughts about what he was going to do on this play. It doesn’t matter if it’s Dragic in his rookie season or his 13th season, he’s still pretty close to unstoppable when he gets that type of momentum on a fast-break. He converts on the layup to tie this thing up for Miami.

– The shot

And finally, the play that doesn’t stop popping up on every social media platform you click on, and rightfully so. Before diving into that play, let’s rewind a few seconds prior, since honestly, that part is the most impressive.

One more time of Ariza guarding Irving, leading right into a swarming switch, and I don’t think there’s a better way to contest that jumper from Irving. That’s a shot he’s knocked down plenty of times in his career, and Adebayo especially does a good job of not fouling and giving Miami a final opportunity.

Then, the ball finds Adebayo’s hands with 11 seconds on the clock. If you take a close look, he looks over at the sideline by Erik Spoelstra, since he wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to call a timeout. Dragic sets a screen for Robinson, as he clears to the corner to eliminate any help from the weak-side.

As Dragic pops out to the perimeter, Adebayo motions his hand to basically say: I got this. And well, he did have it. He sizes up Green, takes three dribble to his left, and leans back into a smooth jumper that rolls in the basket as time expires.

That ladies and gentleman, is Adebayo’s first time in that type of situation, and I can comfortably say that it will most definitely not be his last.

The Miami Heat’s Season Riding on the Next Decision of Bam Adebayo

Through a lot of the Miami Heat’s struggles, Bam Adebayo has become a type of scapegoat. Usually that means a player isn’t performing to the level many expected, or possibly doing too much to ruin the team’s chances of winning.

The interesting part about this situation though, is that it’s the complete opposite of that, since he’s playing well, but not on high volume. He has the defensive attributes, the passing abilities, the offensive focal point status, and much more. But there’s only one issue, he does all of that and treats his scoring technique as if he is a role player.

And well, even if you’ve had certain doubts about that being all he is capable of, just take some time out of your day to scan through some highlights when he played the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the season. It’s in there. We know it. Jimmy Butler knows it. Erik Spoelstra knows it. But does Adebayo know it?

A very underrated part of his game up to this point has been his level of efficiency on a night to night basis, especially since he’s not a traditional big who only scores at the rim. The only downfall of that element of his game at this stage is that it honestly does not help this team win basketball games.

He has shot over 65% from the field in 14 games this season, which the initial observation would be that’s a pretty impressive thing to do. But then as you drag your finger across the box score to the win column, you’d notice the Heat are 3-11 in those games.

This team is not in need of an efficient Adebayo, or a facilitating Adebayo, or most importantly an unselfish Adebayo. They’re actually in need of that second go-to guy while Jimmy Butler continues to put the team on his back against teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, still not translating to wins.

Butler notices this as well, saying “I want Bam to attack the rim, cause nobody can stay in front of him…I like the mid-range jumper, but he lets people off the hook. I like bully ball.”

When many people first heard or read this quote, they immediately picked out the first and last line due to the tone he said it in, and necessity for Adebayo to hear it. But the middle sentence is actually the most important. Even when Adebayo scored 41 points against the Nets, my primary takeaway was that he must attack the basket more than he relies on the jumper. That mid-range is a small percentage of his game that can tie everything together, but the off the dribble stuff is his foundation and strong base.

So, all of this is fairly clear. Attempts must increase instead of field goal percentage. His unselfish needs to fade away at times. He needs to take Butler’s advice. But what is next from this point?

Well, a favorable match-up against the Brooklyn Nets would be a good start on Sunday afternoon, since it’s the team he recently dominated. Now, I’m not so sure if that makes it more or less likely, due to the fact that even if Adebayo is up for it, the Nets may be more prepared to stop it. But let’s just say they are fully ready for an aggressive Adebayo, as Butler said, nobody can stay in front of him. It doesn’t matter who they throw on him, he is capable of getting to the rim with ease.

The current traffic stop for Adebayo right now is much more mental than physical. He’s clearly got people in his head about it, especially after a disappointing night from him against Phoenix, he came out the following night with an aggressive mindset, while still trying to play his same game as a facilitator.

And ladies and gentleman, that’s the next leap. That current choice to either sit back and wait for the puzzle pieces to fall into place, or step up like the star player that he is more than capable of being right this moment.

Also, this shouldn’t be much of a pressured decision, since frankly, this team has nothing to lose as they sit at the seventh seed in the East, looking around for some type of boost. That boost was Victor Oladipo for a short period of time, but due to the continued uncertainties with his injury, that can’t be harped on.

There’s only one other thing that can fully propel this team into Eastern Conference contention, and that’s the upcoming decision of Bam Adebayo.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Denver

The Miami Heat had a similar outcome on the second night of this back to back against the Denver Nuggets, since some issues led to yet another loss. Although Bam Adebayo was aggressive to start and their defense was there for stretches, the overall consistency is the real issue. So, let’s take a look at five takeaways from this game…

#1: Bam Adebayo begins the game with an offensive purpose.

After Bam Adebayo had 6 shot attempts in a loss against the Phoenix Suns one night ago, he came out in the first half tonight with 12 points on 13 attempts. When discussing the reason for this exactly, I’d bet it has a lot to do with Adebayo realizing himself that he must takeover at times as the second best player on the team. And as I’ve mentioned, that doesn’t mean he has to take that open mid-range jumper every play, but instead it’s necessary to move downhill on a nightly basis. Centers like Adebayo are not a common thing in this league, which is why he must utilize those strengths any chance he gets, and attacking off the dribble is a good start.

#2: The interesting sides of Jimmy Butler as a defender.

Instead of discussing some of the all-around defensive issues that were shown tonight at times, it’s important to take a second to focus in on the elite abilities of Jimmy Butler on that end of the floor. For starters, it really is interesting that he’s so good at guarding guys in the post. I don’t know if it’s something he’s always been good at, or if it has developed over time, but either way that attribute no matter the post player’s size is pretty impressive. The other element to his defensive skill-set is the continued ability to hit the passing lanes. Once again, while I’m not going to focus in on some of the soft switching occurring throughout, Butler’s backside rotations to hit passing lanes basically saves that constant blitzing, highlighting his effectiveness even more.

#3: Trevor Ariza really finding himself in the offense.

I’ve harped on Trevor Ariza’s immediate fit on defense, by guarding opposing guards or getting deflections, but the offensive fit this quickly really wasn’t expected. After he kept Miami going in the first half a night ago, he was the leading scorer at the half as well tonight with 13 points. The most impressive stat at that point was the fact that he was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, since that was the one thing we noted that Miami missed early in the season. The only issue is that he shouldn’t be the leading scorer for this team, which just furthers the inconsistencies of this Heat team. Once Miami gets clicking on the offensive end regularly, the effectiveness of Ariza as an offensive threat will become even more apparent.

#4: The two-way guys both one-way sparks.

When a takeaway is about the team’s two-way players, that basically sums up how this game went. Gabe Vincent was obviously going to step up into the role of Goran Dragic, but clearly doing just the opposite of what Dragic does. Even though shots falling from deep hasn’t been the staple for Vincent that we once thought, he really competes on the defensive end. Miami even began going into a 2-2-1 press at one point in the season just due to his aggression. But the other two-way guy is the real interesting piece. Max Strus is an outstanding shooter that never seems to really get a full opportunity. There may not be a consistent role for him on this team, but when the team has their moments of offensive struggles, why not throw in Strus to try and spark some things from the outside.

#5: Deja vu?

This game feels pretty similar to a past performance from the Miami Heat, and that may be due to it occurring exactly 24 hours ago. Some really great offensive flow and defensive execution out of the gate, then the team begins to slowly plummet due to a bit of inconsistency. The blame against Phoenix was Adebayo’s aggression and Dragic’s lack of production, but neither of those things can be utilized after this one. The only consistent takeaway is that Miami lacks overall bench production, leading to second quarter fall-offs. Erik Spoelstra clearly notices it as well, since he took Adebayo out six minutes into the game, as he tried to stagger Adebayo and Butler’s minutes as much as possible. And well, that’s when the eyes will turn to Tyler Herro, since that’s the reason he is in that bench role.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Suns

The Miami Heat lost to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, in a game that three point shots were clearly not their friends. From Bam Adebayo’s lack of aggression to an injury scare with Jimmy Butler, it was a long night for Miami. But they’re going to have to lock back in immediately as they face the Nuggets in Denver less than 24 hours away. Anyways, take a look at five takeaways from this game…

#1: Duncan Robinson knocking down shots in a variety of ways.

Duncan Robinson began the game with an early explosion on the offensive side of the ball, but the shots falling isn’t the key element. The actual important part of it is the different ways that he’s scoring the ball. For one, I mentioned last game that he’s starting a lot of his sets a few feet behind the three-point line, especially being a threat from that range at this stage. That means he gets into high pick and roll sets with Bam Adebayo, leading to pull-up triples instead of straight DHO’s. It’s not all shooting for him as well, since he also is putting the ball on the floor quite regularly, while one hesitation on the wing into an up and under on Jae Crowder comes to mind immediately. If he continues to diversify his ways of scoring, it takes his level of effectiveness to another level.

#2: Trevor Ariza’s comfort levels growing game to game on both ends.

Trevor Ariza had a hot start as well for Miami, scoring a quick 10 points in the first quarter. It’s interesting that it occurred in this game, due to the constant comparison between him and Jae Crowder. This showed that although Crowder had an outstanding run with the team, Ariza is capable of having hot stretches from deep as well, especially since his comfort levels with the team are still growing. But it’s not important to dwell on the offensive side of the ball with him, since his defense continues to stand out. I’ve highlighted his strengths of guarding smaller guards, but the overall consensus is that his length and quickness combination is a terror in the passing lanes. When discussing this Heat team forcing so many turnovers lately, it starts with Ariza’s initial disruption on the perimeter.

#3: Non-Adebayo minutes the real issue for Miami.

When evaluating the box score alone in the first half, the initial takeaway may be that Bam Adebayo didn’t make much of an offensive impact in the first half, due to only scoring 5 points and attempting 2 shots. But if you watched the game, it would tell you something completely different. The drop-off when Adebayo exits the floor is going to occur on the defensive end, since it’s impossible to mirror. But the offensive struggles when he exits has become more and more apparent. Although some of it has to do with his overall impact, Precious Achiuwa’s limitations as the relief guy lead to that as well. Another reason for that could be Robinson usually exiting around the same mark, but those two are a package deal when talking about the team’s offense, and it’s obvious that they must find a way to stay afloat when he takes a breather on the bench. Either way, 2 shot attempts in a half just won’t cut it when facing top tier teams like the Suns.

#4: The pre-Oladipo takeaway: lacking a secondary attacker next to Butler.

When taking a look at Miami’s offense as a whole tonight, other than the shooting struggles from beyond the arc, the overall takeaway that has been discussed for weeks on weeks has made a return. The reason the Victor Oladipo pick-up was so crucial for Miami was due to adding an attacker next to Butler, since they lack secondary downhill guys on this roster who can get there without a screen. Although Kendrick Nunn doesn’t fully fall under that category, he definitely isn’t afraid to attack hard off pick and rolls, as well as fast-break opportunities. But the foul trouble had him sidelined for significant minutes, leading to that hole in the offense being even larger than usual.

#5: The overarching Goran Dragic takeaway.

The Goran Dragic discussion is quite interesting at this stage, since it’s been an extended stretch of time where the same things continue to occur. The things he once gave Miami offensively have slowly faded away. There’s a lack of burst off the dribble, not enough lift on his jumper, and many other things pointing toward the question marks of his postseason effectiveness. A main reason he was able to go on an incredible run in the bubble was due to the amount of rest he got prior. Now, he’s battling himself in a gritty NBA season, while Miami’s overall inconsistencies aren’t helping the cause. There are still moments that this team looks to him to be that takeover player, but that’s just not him at this stage, which means somebody’s aggression must increase, beginning with the young centerpiece Bam Adebayo who has yet to realize it.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Impressive Win Over Portland

The Miami Heat took down the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night to kick off their West Coast trip. After it appeared it may be a long night for Miami following the first quarter, they turned it around completely to get a solid all-around win. So, let’s take a look at five takeaways from this game…

#1: Bam Adebayo showing peak Adebayo levels early on.

Bam Adebayo’s impact against Portland began on the first play, as a deflection led to the first turnover of many for the Trail Blazers tonight. Although defense is always the hot topic with Adebayo, his offense in the first half specifically must be harped on. This isn’t just because of his 15 point box score in the first half, but actually the importance of those 15 points. Miami had a rough first quarter, with extra emphasis on rough. The offense wasn’t clicking for anybody, except Adebayo. Attacking the drop bigs, getting to the free throw line, knocking down turn-around late shot-clock jumpers. He did it all, and it’s just further assurance that he’s more than capable of doing it on a consistent basis, but it’s up to him.

#2: Tyler Herro playing his role, thriving against one specific defensive scheme.

Tyler Herro gave Miami an efficient 10 first half points tonight, but it’s important to discuss the specifics of this scoring run off the bench. He’s mentioned many times that he is more than comfortable against drop coverage, and that statement is not an overstatement. High pick and rolls with Adebayo as the screener should make anybody comfortable, but giving Herro that many options that fit his strengths are the clear indicators. He showed the ability to hit the open pull-up mid-range, make the lob pass, and most importantly, make the pocket pass after some shots begin to drop for him. It may not be as much about comfort against the scheme as it is about overall confidence when he sees it, since a lot of the time it’s more mental than physical, especially when talking about Herro.

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#3: Duncan Robinson’s defensive flashes may be minor, but they’re happening.

Duncan Robinson’s improvements on the defensive end may not be incredibly loud, but that doesn’t mean it’s not progressing. Something that is constantly talked about is his high IQ from a team defense perspective, and that was on display tonight, especially in the first half. Nunn-Herro-Robinson lineups don’t sound like the most effective defensive lineup, but Robinson basically saved them from completely falling apart. When Nunn defensive breakdowns would occur for example, Robinson predicted the rotation to get into position, either leading to kick-outs or drawing a charge. This not only increases the comfort level and willingness to keep him on the floor late in games, but it also makes the off-season contract discussion even more interesting, since a functional defender changes a lot of things.

#4: Trevor Ariza’s fit with this Heat team becoming clearer and clearer.

When talking about Miami Heat player acquisitions that just completely embody everything that they’re about, Trevor Ariza would probably be pretty high on that list. Aside from his growing comfort level in the offense as a catch and shoot guy, while sprinkling in an obvious ability to put the ball on the floor to get to the rim, his defensive impact is the true headliner. When talking about high impact guys like Andre Iguodala whose stat lines don’t tell a thing, Ariza is in the same category, since he just constantly wrecks havoc, even without discussing steals and deflections. His rotations are crisp, his length is an offensive player’s nightmare, and most importantly, he can handle his own against the best point guards in the league. He’s more comfortable on smaller guys that lengthier wings, which means this team’s confidence rises against perimeter oriented teams in the East.

#5: Kendrick Nunn back as a starter, Kendrick Nunn back producing.

Kendrick Nunn is like a revolving door on this Heat team, since he goes from starter to out of the rotation to an opportunity rising, as the cycle begins again and again. A key piece to that as well is that he always finds himself back into his role playing at a high level, since he’s surprisingly become a pretty consistent player on the offensive side of the floor. He quickly showed some of the things that he can improve for Miami, beginning with a guy that can attack bigs in drop coverage. The half-court ability is a known element, but he has proved to be pretty great in transition, which Miami has missed with their current personnel. And with the amount of turnovers they’re forcing in this swarming defense, transition offense is necessary, which Nunn brought to this team upon arrival.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Memphis

The Miami Heat’s winning streak ended on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. After some early open looks from beyond the arc for the Grizzlies, following that up with a third quarter Dillon Brooks explosion, led to Miami playing from behind throughout. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Bam Adebayo comes out with early offensive aggression.

Some may point to a certain ESPN ranking, which placed Bam Adebayo at 9 among the top player’s potential under the age of 25, for the reason of this early aggression. Others may just call it inevitable when he’s facing favorable match-ups in certain areas. Jonas Valanciunas was basically begging Adebayo to shoot a wide open mid-range jumper throughout, so he did just that. But he really looked to attack in spurts that many have been awaiting for quite some time. Forcing that defense to collapse benefits the shooters on the floor, which is why both Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro had some good looks early on. Coach Spoelstra always has that interesting offensive card in his back pocket to throw down in a playoff series, and that may just be unleashing Adebayo to play as free as can be.

#2: The one negative defensive aspect on display.

Defense has been quite the topic when discussing the Miami Heat as of late, but the negative side of things must be harped on. Adebayo switches in the pick and roll may have been cured a bit with the newest defensive acquisitions, but now it’s a new obstacle for him. As I asked him following the past game, it seems to be more about reading the defender in the PnR than it does the offensive player. Although he may be able to switch when the PnR includes Jimmy Butler, who is very capable of guarding a big, other guys on the roster aren’t as capable. As he responded to my question, there’s a heavy reliance on that backside rotation, which may not consist of the correct guys while Adebayo is eliminated from the play on the perimeter. That exact mindset led to 10 first half triples for the Grizzlies, while most of them being wide open due to that exact defensive takeaway.

#3: Tyler Herro finding an offensive rhythm.

As I already touched on Adebayo’s early offensive explosion, Tyler Herro followed that right up with a very efficient start of his own. The two of them combined for 21 first quarter points on 82% shooting, which is very impressive. Herro was doing it in many different ways, including some catch and shoot threes, as well as mid-range floaters out of a pick and roll. Although he showcased this all for many stretches, it’s apparent that he fades away in the offense during other spurts. When other creators, like Victor Oladipo, are on the floor with him, it’s alright to allow them to run some things while he plays off the ball, but when he’s rolling like he did tonight, that decision is questionable. As I’ve mentioned since Miami picked up Oladipo, the most intriguing aspect will be the fit next to Herro. Oladipo has been super unselfish since joining the team, but Herro has to be able to control the offense and read a situation when he truly has it going.

#4: The Jimmy Butler third quarter comeback becoming a common theme.

Jimmy Butler third quarters have become a common theme recently, and I’m not so sure it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a positive element when discussing his ability to flip a switch to attack the basket and score with ease whenever he wants, while the negative aspect is letting two quarters pass by may lead to it being too late. Victor Oladipo will become a crucial part of Butler’s effectiveness for one reason: lineups. Butler and Adebayo continually have their minutes staggered, as they’re asked to lead their respective lineups. But once Oladipo can create consistent offense and score the ball, Adebayo and Butler may be able to play together for longer stretches, without allowing the lead to expand and continue to play from behind.

#5: A quick Victor Oladipo observation following first full practice.

This was going to be an interesting game for Victor Oladipo, since he was able to practice for the first time on Monday afternoon. Now, that may not mean he’s able to immediately fit into the offensive scheme since it still takes time, but it definitely gives an added feel for the scheme. Although he had his moments throughout the night, the one thing that seems to be holding him back has nothing to do with scheme. It’s actually his personal play style at the moment, which is a bit tense a lot of the time due to his unselfish play. Much like I’ve discussed with Butler and Adebayo, selfishness is needed in many spots of the game, and Oladipo has shown to be that type of player over his career. Once he gets fully acclimated with the offense that may come, but it’s important to monitor since they need him playing freely offensively for him to be at his best.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cleveland

The Miami Heat beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, which expands their winning streak to 4 games and puts them 2 games over .500. Although Victor Oladipo didn’t have the expected offensive bounce back game, he impacted in other ways, and ultimately was a needed game to give him extra run in the offense. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Miami’s switching scheme benefiting personnel, Ariza on guards and Butler on bigs.

The switching scheme was a bit interesting to begin the season since there were many breakdowns occurring through Bam Adebayo’s switch, leading to a weaker defender being stuck on a big. But now that Miami has quite the list of versatile defenders, it makes Adebayo’s life a lot easier. For one, Trevor Ariza looks much more comfortable when defending opposing guards, which is perfect due to the amount of times he ends up seeing that match-up. Another interesting element to this switching is Jimmy Butler, since although nothing has changed, his ability to guard post players is shown time and time again. It also seems like Adebayo realizes that, since he’s even more willing to switch onto the perimeter when Butler’s involved in the PnR.

#2: Duncan Robinson is still firing, making slight adjustments.

The Duncan Robinson takeaway seems to be locked into this post-game piece now, since he’s shooting the three-ball the way that many have been awaiting for quite some time. The usual DHO and catch and shoot opportunities are still there, but another element was shown tonight, as well as a lot of the games lately. The one dribble side step on the perimeter is quite simple for the offensive player, but the complete opposite for the defensive player. The amount of gravity he holds on the three-point line is well known, which leads to constant fly-outs, leading to that side step eliminating them from the play. It’s once again about finding ways to get open shots for Robinson, and that is one simple way of doing so, while some more small changes should be on the way as well to truly maximize his ability.

#3: Coach Spo goes a different route with the rotation tonight, as well as lineups.

Due to Andre Iguodala being out, it was clear that the line of wings was a bit short tonight. So, Miami went to even more of the three guard lineups, mostly with Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Victor Oladipo. This lack of wings also led to Nemanja Bjelica getting some run next to Bam Adebayo, which is different since them being the two primary bigs means they’ve had to constantly be interchanged. Precious Achiuwa got some run as the relief guy, meaning he was the one who fulfilled the nine man rotation. Kendrick Nunn not getting inserted into that 9 man rotation was expected, but still an intriguing discussion to be had. He wasn’t going to get minutes over Dragic or Herro off the bench, but considering he was playing some pretty good basketball before being replaced, makes this conversation a bit different.

#4: Trevor Ariza finding his offensive fit, which begins with knocking down triples.

When discussing a guy who has continually been looked at as the 3 and D specialist, the three side of it hasn’t made many appearances, while the defense side has explicitly. But tonight, three-balls were falling, and that has a lot to do with him getting a few games under his belt, which means he’s beginning to find his offensive fit. Although knocking down catch and shoot threes is an important element, the spacing seems to be the bigger concern when first joining the team. Victor Oladipo is currently going through that at the moment, but Ariza seems to have passed that point now, generating the needed space when mentioning the 4 spot next to Adebayo.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s efficiency continues to fly under the radar, while shining in wins.

Bam Adebayo’s field goal stat category is the first stat observed after a loss, since his attempts are constantly harped on, but it seems like it never gets discussed following wins. He has consistently been a very efficient player, and he’s definitely not the traditional center who just takes shots at the basket. The mid-range pull-ups are becoming a natural occurrence, while he sprinkles in many different crafty ways to score. It’s clear that he is a very unselfish player who can rack up plenty of assists with the amount of offense that runs through him, but that level of efficient offense should not be taken for granted, since although Robinson threes or Butler drives are looked at as the focal point at times, the Adebayo scoring is actually the primary element.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Win Over Golden State

The Miami Heat extend their winning streak to 3 games on Thursday night against the Warriors. Victor Oladipo’s debut may not scream from the stat sheet, but this is the exact debut that the Miami Heat organization loves. Just lots of defensive impact, and resulting in a win. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: The initial Victor Oladipo observation.

Victor Oladipo made his debut tonight, and it’s clear that offense won’t be the initial takeaway. Pat Riley’s first conversation with him was about “defense, defense, and defense,” and there’s a reason for that. He wrecked havoc on the perimeter early on, mostly since he is capable of locking on an opponent without relying on a switch. This works both ways for Bam Adebayo as well, since he doesn’t feel that he must switch every screen. The offensive side of the ball for Oladipo was a bit passive early on, which is not surprising, since he’s trying to find his fit into this unique motion offense. Once he becomes comfortable after a few games, the offense will look a lot smoother with him as the ball-handler, while the defense can be plugged in at any time.

#2: Miami’s identity is clearly defense, but it might be scheme more than personnel. 

To further the discussion about defense, it’s not all about the addition of Oladipo. And honestly, it’s not all about the versatile personnel pieces including Butler, Adebayo, Ariza, and Iguodala. It’s mostly about the differing schemes, which becomes even more deadly when you are even average in individual man to man sets with Oladipo at the point of attack. The reason that scheme stuck out tonight was many plays where guys like Robinson and Herro would trap together on the baseline, forcing turnovers or transition offense. And although it’s very true that they’re improving from a team defense stance, the main element is that the Heat’s coaching staff is placing them in areas that they know they will thrive, or at least not get picked on. This team has a chance to be really special with the amount of weapons to swarm the perimeter, and that begins with the team’s young and versatile centerpiece, Bam Adebayo.

#3: Rotations become interesting, including Kendrick Nunn role and substitution timing.

It seems necessary to discuss the Heat’s rotation after tonight, since there were quite a few things that stuck out about it. For one, Goran Dragic being out meant the Kendrick Nunn situation wouldn’t be addressed at the moment, but I guess it was. Gabe Vincent got his name called before him even though he was cleared, but maybe he just didn’t feel 100% once the game started. The second part of this is Nemanja Bjelica getting the backup big minutes instead of Precious Achiuwa, which worked out pretty well due to Belly finding himself in the offense pretty quickly, while also spacing the floor. The last part of this includes the main guys, since Adebayo and Butler’s minutes have continually been staggered since it’s hard to survive stretches with both of them on the sideline. Although they’re capable of going to it more with Oladipo, it’s just never ideal since Adebayo’s game is not easily replicated, not only on this team, but in the entire league.

#4: It’s not about Duncan Robinson’s three point makes, but actually what comes next.

The recent talk involving Duncan Robinson has been strictly the shots he’s making, as well as the areas of growth that he is showcasing. That includes defensive instincts, a willingness to put the ball on the floor and attack, among other things. But when evaluating his jump-shot, it’s not so much about the three-point makes, as it is what comes next. One play in the first half stands out, when a possession following him making a three, led to two defenders flying high on him at the perimeter, as the ball found an open cutting Butler, which ended in an open Herro three. Those are the plays that are generated when his shots are dropping, and can ultimately impact Miami’s newest acquisition very heavily. I’ve discussed that gravity opening up the floor for an attacking Butler, since well, that was their only attacker. But surrounding Robinson with players who can penetrate may be the fix to the offensive roller coaster.

#5: Bam Adebayo continues to have flashes, especially late in games.

Enough defense has been discussed in this piece, which leads with Adebayo most of the time, but now it’s time to talk offense. Oladipo and Butler didn’t even have to be on the floor for a good amount of the fourth, since they trusted Adebayo to keep them afloat. Not only did he do that, but he gave them a major boost, sparking a run through his ball-handling abilities and active defensive hands to gain extra opportunities. This also refers back to the discussion about spreading the minutes between the three, since trusting Adebayo to lead lineups, and ultimately be aggressive when most needed in the fourth, changes a lot of things for this team in the big picture.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Knicks

The Miami Heat ended their 6 game losing streak with a win over the New York Knicks. It was a tale of two halves for Miami, after Jimmy Butler went into takeover mode in the second half. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Well, this is Miami’s offense at times.

The reality is that this is Miami’s offense at times. Dissecting different reasons for the offensive struggles game after game have become a constant thing this season, meaning this is who they are. The leading scorer after 12 minutes of basketball from both teams was Tyler Herro with 6 points, which furthers the point about the overall stagnant offensive play. The only difference is that the Knicks went on spark runs by some of their primary players, as well as turning defense into offense. Miami wasn’t as lucky to have those scoring spurts, and it may have nothing to do with luck. There were small flashes of Bam Adebayo takeover, which never really panned out in the first half, which I will dive into next, but it’s clear that a passive Jimmy Butler in games like this always leads to them playing from behind, which turned around in the second half.

#2: Bam Adebayo having his moments, showcasing just an incredibly unique skill.

Now, I mentioned the small positive flashes from Adebayo early on, and although the Heat scored 36 points in the half, it must be touched upon. For starters, he scored 8 points in that stretch on 4 for 5 shooting, which is a major part of this. Efficiency is clearly a great attribute, but not when it’s costing the team points. Andre Iguodala having the same amount of shot attempts in the first half as Adebayo reiterates that point even more. The reason that I wanted to touch on his unique skill, which is widely known, is because he shows glimpses of realization then reverts right back. Pull-up jumpers with a behind the back dribble occurring right before seems like a moment where that Brooklyn Nets-like game takeover is coming, but the following play leads to off-ball screens and kick-outs to Miami’s different wings. Adebayo utilizes guard moves throughout the game, which is the perfect description since it happens pretty effortlessly.

#3: Precious Achiuwa struggles again, turning eyes toward buyout market.

The continued discussion surrounding last minute pick-ups for Miami have included the addition of a back-up big for the Heat. The non-Adebayo minutes have become just as bad as the non-Butler minutes lately, since they don’t have that big man who can keep them afloat. Achiuwa had flashes early in the year, but his offensive limitations and undersized build allow him to get lost rather quickly. Although most of the guys that are currently in the buyout market get labeled as “past their prime,” that attribute may be more helpful for this team than an inexperience rookie. It’s obvious that Miami will make a move in that area pretty soon, but the consistent hole in that spot should speed that process up in the coming days for the Heat’s front office.

#4: The Jimmy Butler takeover.

As I mentioned before the game, as well as halftime, a Jimmy Butler takeover was necessary. When offense is stagnant like it was tonight, it’s important for him to search to attack, but it’s even more clear when all of the signs are pointing in that direction. Butler seemed to be locked in as soon as some back and forth occurred between him and the Knicks, both the players on the court and sideline. When he’s locked in like that, he’s a hard man to stop, since it’s obvious that he is more than capable to score at the basket whenever he chooses. So, he did just that in the third quarter, turning a 36 point first half into a 39 point third quarter. And although the points he scored will be harped on, the intensity and energy that he brought changed the game for Miami.

#5: Duncan Robinson with one of his best all-around performances.

Duncan Robinson hit some nice shots on the outside, which may have sparked him moving forward, but that’s not what I want to discuss. The part that must be mentioned is that this game may be one of Robinson’s best all-around games of the season. For starters, he put the ball on the deck at an exceptional rate, which led to some very impressive passes. When defenses continue to fly out at him, that element will be essential, and adding the dump-off on the move to the cutter takes it to another level. The second part of tonight’s game for him was on the defensive end, which could’ve been one of his better defensive games of his career. Not only some big steals and deflections to get Miami into transition, but he also stayed in front of his guy individually much better than usual. This type of performance is all he needed to get back to normal, so we will see how this progresses.

Voices

The Defense Manual: Miami Heat Edition

After the Miami Heat expanded their winning streak to 3 games on Thursday night against the Warriors, on the same night Victor Oladipo made his Heat debut, the defense is what truly stood out. Miami has the option to run lineups with 4, or even 5, of the most versatile defenders in this league, which was absolutely extraordinary to watch last night.

So, let’s take a look at every positive takeaway from the defensive end in that game, including player spotlights, team defense, and more…

– Victor Oladipo:

It would be offensive not to start this piece with Victor Oladipo, especially since he had so many great defensive flashes.

He eliminates any possible pass to the cutter as the play begins, then immediately switches onto Andrew Wiggins on the screen. He angles him to the baseline, knowing that he had Bam Adebayo for the cut-off on the backside. It leads to a turnover and Miami possession.

But that wasn’t the only thing that stood out on this play. They aren’t even one minute into the game, and Steph Curry is seeing his third different one-on-one match-up. Yes, third. From Trevor Ariza out the gate to Victor Oladipo the following possession to Jimmy Butler on this play. This told us the identity of this team right away, that they have defensive options now.

One thing that stood out about Oladipo in this game was that he is not easily beat when he’s on his heels, which is a terrific attribute. While it seems as if the ball-handler may be able to find an opening baseline on this possession, Oladipo stops him in his tracks. He then forces him to lose the ball, which could’ve led to transition offense.

And although I’ll dive into Duncan Robinson a bit more later, just take a look at this contest on Curry, forcing a miss to cap off a great defensive possession.

The part to watch on this play is the amount of switching Oladipo does in a matter of seconds, guarding three players in less than a 10 second span. The reason the switching is less problematic now is due to it being a revolving door of good perimeter defenders. If Oladipo noticed a weaker defender in that spot, he would probably fight over the screen.

Although the main part of this possession for him is the final contest, it’s about him being able to predict the offensive player. He notices Kevon Looney unwilling to utilize his size on him, which leads to him awaiting the jump-shot on the DHO. These are the attributes that make up a good defender.

Now, this was one of the plays that stuck out to most people when watching Oladipo’s debut. This team has gradually increased in the team defense category, but they’ve missed this one-on-one point of attack defender.

It’s far from an easy task to guard the greatest shooter to ever play this game, but he did it rather effortlessly. Aside from looking at Oladipo on this play, take a look at Adebayo, since that’ll tell you the level of defense Oladipo is bringing. If that was Kendrick Nunn or Goran Dragic on Curry here, Adebayo would not be standing on that side of the paint, since he would force the extra pass and rely on backside rotations.

And well, that right there is why Oladipo elevates this team on that end of the floor.

Here’s yet another example of predicting the offensive player, since it’s usually a good choice to take the charge when a big is running the floor, due to the lack of body control. Well, unless your name is Bam Adebayo.

He takes the hit at a crucial point in the third quarter, which seems to be a recurring theme lately, where the third quarter defense sparks offensive runs. And there’s nothing like drawing a charge to give the offense a bit of a boost, since gaining possessions is one of those things players always discuss as sparks.

 

Let’s take one last look at Oladipo’s defense in this game, and it’s pretty intriguing to acknowledge the difference in movement when a guy is taking you off the dribble, compared to other Heat guards. Possessions like this always end in a reach in foul, since foot speed is always an issue when they get you on your heels.

But as mentioned earlier, his recovery speed when back-pedaling is fantastic, and he doesn’t even need to use the slightest advantage with his hands, since he relies so heavily on his movement. He cuts him off, jumps in the air, and forces a risky kick-out which led to a Butler deflection.

– Bam Adebayo:

Other than this Adebayo block passing Udonis Haslem on the franchise blocks list, this play showcases something unique with Adebayo. Most shot blockers are guys who camp out on the bottom box, then rise up for easy swats when players attack. The difference with Adebayo is that most of his blocks in his career begin with him defending on the perimeter, and there’s a reason for that.

Even though every player is aware of Adebayo’s freakishly unique defensive skill-set for his size, it never seems to click until a few possessions like this. Guys see a big switched onto them and immediately think to themselves that they can beat this guy off the dribble. Well, until this happens.

It’s the Adebayo effect, and it leads to indecisive movement from guys when he switches onto them more and more.

Other than the result of this play being a Draymond Green score, it’s just yet another moment that defines Adebayo. Take a look at him blanketing Curry off the ball on this possession, starting way above the top of the key, following him to the corner, and flowing right over two off-ball screens. It’s just not a normal thing for a big man.

It also seems like Tyler Herro has been taking some Andre Iguodala defensive lessons, since he’s utilized that swipe down more and more. The only difference is that he may not get officiated on those plays the same way a veteran Iguodala does, but it’s pretty promising to see Herro finding ways to improve on that end.

And now, the play of the game, which ended up being the ultimate closing possession for Miami. Adebayo switches onto Curry without hesitation, while knowing his only option is a three-point attempt.

He has great body control on the final behind the back cross-over to continue into a strong contest, and leads to a Curry air ball. Once again, these just aren’t normal occurrences for big men to defend guards to close out games, but Adebayo is just that guy.

– Trevor Ariza:

Although the key point of attack defender for Miami has become Oladipo, Trevor Ariza has done as great of a job as anybody on smaller guys since joining the Heat. He tips the Curry pass 10 seconds into this game, while Bally Sports still hasn’t even placed the scoreboard on the screen.

He stays right with Curry on the second switch, and his lengthy wingspan allows him to get a nice block on his mid-range jumper, kicking off the Oladipo defensive era with quite the bang. And honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if Coach Spo has Ariza begin on talented point guards instead of Oladipo, especially if Oladipo gets into a real rhythm offensively, which could lead to taking some pressure off of him.

Guards aren’t the only position he can cover, since he did a pretty great job on guys like Draymond Green as well. He awaits the Curry drive so he can cut it off, which would pretty much put him out of the position for a Green drive after receiving the ball.

Except he somehow turns and recovers, while angling himself toward the basket for quite the contest on a Green runner. When Ariza begins to truly find himself in the offensive scheme, which he began to do slowly in the first half of this game, it’ll be an interesting choice for Coach Spo when deciding between him and Iguodala in certain situations.

– Jimmy Butler:

I figured we should limit Jimmy Butler defensive talk to one clip, since it’s something I dive into almost every single game. The one thing that I wanted to point out here is Butler’s ability to guard bigger guys, especially in the post.

Obviously his savviness allows him to poke the ball free like he did here, or pull the chair when they try to overpower him, but his overall strength is really impressive. He has continually been able to handle post players, especially since Adebayo never feels the urge to help when he’s in that position. And it’s the one thing that basically covers up some of Adebayo’s soft switching on the perimeter, since Butler is capable of handling it on the backside.

– Tyler Herro/Duncan Robinson:

You may be wondering how Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro found themselves on a defensive piece, but it’s extremely important to track their development, especially on a night where both of them had plenty of good flashes.

It’s necessary to begin with this impressive Robinson block, not only because it’s a highlight play for him, but also why it occurred. When I discussed his development on this side of the ball recently, I mentioned the need to utilize his length to his advantage. And he did just that here, since even though it looked as if Kelly Oubre had a step on Robinson, his reach allowed him to recover and send it back.

These are the plays that weren’t happening a few months ago with Robinson on the defensive end. He gets put on an island at the top of the key, covering Andrew Wiggins, and not only does he not get beat, but he forces a kick-out to Green.

When he’s capable of making defensive plays like this consistently, it makes this team’s defense even more elite when he’s surrounded by four above average defenders. This play also refers back to the Ariza discussion, since he stays on Curry even while Green sets the immediate screen, and somehow keeps a hand in his face forcing the miss.

This possession is another moment that solidified a point I mentioned in my past piece. Defense elevates when shots are dropping, and it can make below average defenders at least average. After a Robinson three, he eliminates the rolling Looney as Bjelica lags behind, then flies back out to the wing at Kent Bazemore.

He swipes down and forces a jump-ball, mostly due to that made shot on the other end. As much as the phrase is defense to offense, this team seems to feed off offense to defense much more.

To further that earlier point about Robinson defending on an island out on the perimeter, here it is again, and here is Robinson stepping up in that area. He drops down on Green to await the rotation from Herro, then pops back out to Wiggins.

Once again, a few months ago, Wiggins would probably get a pretty good look on this possession, but Robinson seems to know exactly where he is going, and contests the shot to perfection. And another recurring theme: using his length to his advantage.

Teams are still finding ways to pick on Herro as much as possible on the defensive end, but it always seems to end late in the fourth. When things begin to clamp down at this point of the game, he always seems to make some of his best defensive plays, which may be a bit of awaiting the pass to the guy he is guarding since that’s usually the plan.

Even without a lengthy wingspan, he keeps his arms up to try and eliminate the pass to the cutter, but Green passes it anyway. He deflects the pass right into Butler’s hands, which was a big moment when Miami felt they pretty much had this game in their favor.

– Team Defense

Now that we addressed many of the individual plays that Heat players made, let’s finish this off with some of the team defense that is constantly harped on.

As Green fakes the DHO and dives to the rim, he gets stuck since Looney isn’t running in his direction. He still is forced to make that pass, and Herro, Butler, and Ariza collapse at that middle point to force a turnover. Also, these moments of slight overplaying just shows the level of confidence that they have in their rotations, which is a major element.

If you want a look into what Miami’s perimeter switching looks like when they have multiple versatile defenders on the floor, here you go. Adebayo crashes onto Poole to extract any possible dribble penetration, while Oladipo switches comfortably on Looney.

Oubre tries to take Iguodala off the dribble but is unsuccessful, so he kicks back out to Poole with Adebayo still blanketing. They roughly flow into a DHO as Adebayo pops out on Oubre, forcing a miss, and creating quite the glimpse of how good this Heat defense can be.

On this play, Adebayo reads the offense to slide over and cut off any possible lay-up for Wiggins. He uncomfortably kicks it out to a swarming corner with Butler and Ariza, which Butler saves it into him leading to a foul call.

Now, although Adebayo made this play, go back and watch it again, while focusing on both Butler and Ariza. They both knew where that ball was going next, which just shows the IQ of this Heat defense at this stage. When rotations are as crisp as this, it won’t even matter what personnel is on the floor, due to the scheme carrying the way.

One of the ways Miami handled Curry in the first match-up with him was by blitzing him on every screen, basically forcing every other player to beat them. And although they relied on individual defenders much more this time around, they sprinkled it in once in a while.

That occurred on this possession, as Bjelica flashed high and deflected the pass. While Bjelica reverting back may have seemed like a breakdown was coming, they recovered rather quickly, forcing the Warriors to reset. Curry receives the hand-off, which is something Iguodala has seen way too many times before, and blocks the shot. Although this play ended in a foul call, which was a bit interesting after the replay, it just shows the different things this team is capable of on that end of the floor.

 

Bam Adebayo Looks to Dominate ECF vs. Celtics

It’s continually been clear that Bam Adebayo is the constant energy that keeps this Miami Heat team going.

But it seems even more essential against the Boston Celtics.

For starters, he will have the ability to utilize his full offensive package with the match-up of Daniel Theis. If he can get his mid-range jumper going early, this will slowly lure Theis out of the paint, which is what Bam ultimately wants. This then allows him to take him off the dribble to the basket, and since Theis is super aggressive on shot contests around the rim, there’s a good chance that he gets some free throws off of that.

He should be able to take advantage on the offensive glass, since he did that in all of the games with Boston. And this gets his confidence up a bit, which is something that holds much importance with Bam, since his aggression is based off his offensive flow.

He will also be a huge factor for Miami’s lethal shooter Duncan Robinson. Duncan hasn’t been able to breathe in the playoffs thus far, and it’s going to be the same exact situation against the Celtics. But with Bam Adebayo’s elite screen-setting and Daniel Theis’ inability to switch on Duncan off of screens, this will be essential.

And while discussing the offense, Erik Spoelstra will most likely run a lot of lineups with Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk on the floor. These two on the court together pose a lot of mismatches for Boston defensively. It means that Daniel Theis gets brought out to the perimeter due to Kelly’s elite shooting, and that Bam can take advantage of the smaller Jayson Tatum on the block. Jaylen Brown even had some minutes on Bam when Kelly was on the floor, which is even more of a favorable match-up.

And now to the defensive side of the ball, which is where he will absolutely dominate the series. It’s obvious that Bam is an above average defender on the perimeter, and can hold his own on opposing guards. And well, he’ll be seeing a lot of one-on-ones with guards in this series.

The Boston Celtics run a lot of stuff through the high pick and roll, which ultimately allows Kemba Walker to get to his strengths. Kemba has the option of shooting a pull up three or his go to step back mid-range with the opponent on their heels. But now with Bam most likely switching on Kemba on the perimeter, this will give him major trouble. This means that Kemba will be kicking it to one of the corners, one with Jayson Tatum being guarded by Jae Crowder and the other with Brown being guarded by Jimmy Butler. This does not mean that these guys aren’t going to continue to score the way they have all season, but it’s something that will be a game changer down the stretches of close games.

Ultimately, Jayson Tatum is going to get his and Jimmy Butler is going to get his. But each team’s second option will give their team the edge in this series. Boston’s second option may be Kemba Walker. It may be Jaylon Brown. But what is guaranteed is that Bam will be that second option for Miami, and as he said in his press conference, he will look to take more of an offensive load.

Bam Adebayo. You now have the keys to this team.

You’re one series away from reaching the NBA Finals. Go prove the haters wrong.

 

Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) contributes to Five on the Floor on the podcast and streaming shows. To sponsor his work, contact Sales@FiveReasonsSports.com 

This is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo’s Time

Prior to the series against the Milwaukee Bucks, many talked about different guys that would need to step up in order to win. A lot of people said that it’s going to lay on the shoulders of the supporting cast on this Heat team, since that’s Milwaukee’s weakness.

Well, that hasn’t entirely been the case. And Miami is still up 3-0.

They have gotten major contributions from Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Tyler Herro. But at the end of the day, stars win you playoff games.

To start with Jimmy Butler, he began the series with an offensive display which led to scoring 40 points in game one. And as soon as the national media saw this, they jumped on it. Mostly since people don’t fully understand the player and personality of Jimmy Butler. But clearly Miami does.

Everyone, including the Milwaukee Bucks, began to say that they must stop Jimmy Butler with the ball in his hands. And evidently, this is exactly what Jimmy wanted them to think.

He’s clearly a guy that is capable of putting up a bunch of points, but he doesn’t feel that always translates to a Heat win. He is such an elite facilitator and passer, and since there are so many knock down shooters on this Heat roster, he’d rather play to his strengths. And well, that’s what he did in game two.

He pretty much gave the scoring reigns to his offensive co-pilot Goran Dragic, which was an easy decision since it seems that Goran just can’t have a bad game. And most of the reason Goran was able to do this so well, was because Jimmy was being watched. And once again, when it mattered most, Jimmy got the ball in his hands with four seconds left, which led to him getting fouled on a jump shot and Jimmy hitting the game-winning free throw.

Seems as if Giannis Antetokounmpo got in his own head a little bit in game two, after he saw all of social media’s comments about not guarding Jimmy Butler in game one. But do you know who is never mentally impacted by the outside and constantly stays absolutely locked in. Jimmy Butler.

And finally in game three, he played half the game as he did in game one and half the game as he did in game two. That’s what makes Jimmy Butler so intriguing as a player. He seemed as if he couldn’t get an offensive rhythm, since he was 1 of 3 mid-way through the third quarter. Then he turned it on once again, proving the world that he’s not a pure scorer. But he’s an important scorer. He’s able to read a situation so well, that he knows what is needed at different points of the game.

And now to Bam Adebayo. Since Jimmy went on that late run in game three, Bam hasn’t gotten much recognition. But he should.

Bam scored 20 points on 88% shooting and grabbed 16 rebounds against the defensive player of the year in Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s been talked about all season that Bam Adebayo has the ability to be an offensive force, but he needs to realize it. And well, it seemed as if he realized it yesterday.

That’s not even discussing his defensive impact guarding Giannis throughout the series, including when he stripped the ball from Giannis in game three, which proved to be a substantial play in the game.

Either way, Bam doesn’t care if he gets credit or gets recognition, he just wants to win. He knows what it’s like to have doubters, since many didn’t even know his name coming into this season, and now he’s a second option on a team heading towards the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo weren’t looked at as the ideal duo heading into this postseason by many, since many didn’t think their offensive package was big enough. Well, that proved wrong when Jimmy and Bam scored 27 of the 40 fourth quarter points in game three, which ultimately close the game out to beat Milwaukee.

This is because, once again, stars win you playoff games.

Jimmy Butler. Bam Adebayo. This is your time. Go get what’s yours.

 

Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) is the youngest contributor in the Five Reasons Sports Network, and a frequent guest on Five on the Floor and #FloorsYours. If you want to sponsor this or any other content on the Five Reasons Sports Network, contact skolnick@fivereasonssports.com