Tag Archive for: Bam Adebayo

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over 76ers in Game One

The Miami Heat kicked off round 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, and although there were minor bumps in the road, they really took care of business.

After struggling in round 1, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo really took control of this game. Together.

But as much as they’re the focus, PJ Tucker put them in this position under the radar.

Anyway, here are my takeaways from this one…

#1: The early, early offensive approach for Miami: Herro-Bam high PnR.

Before I discuss the offense in the first half big picture, I must first address what was working. After Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo had rough first round series, it was clear coming into this one that this match-up could favor them greatly. The drop is there for Herro to attack, and Adebayo has the size advantage over anybody not named DeAndre Jordan. So, Miami quickly evolved into high PnR madness with those two when Jordan or Paul Millsap were sitting in that drop. Herro’s able to create attention through his drop instinct once passing the three-point line, which transitioned into open lanes for Bam as a roller since nobody could stick him. That was when offense was peaking. But then, it declined. Rapidly.

#2: The offensive drought that followed…

Now, to enter the problematic parts of this Heat offense, it went from executed offensive sets that were clearly intentional heading in, into a whole lot of randomness in that second quarter. Miami began blending into forced drives and more forced drives until an open man was found. Yes, that’s the complete recap. They were no longer looking at Adebayo roaming baseline who would find a perfect deep seal. Combine that with shooting 25% from three in the first 24 minutes and you have yourself an issue. Butler had the jumper fall early with back to back mid-ranges when they went under the screen and a standstill three, but that turned into tough fade-away jumpers with wings guarding him. That’s fine against Maxey, but forced against others. It was clear at that point, adjustments were needed coming out of the half.

#3: Should we take a second for extra PJ Tucker appreciation.

In the first round against the Atlanta Hawks, after Butler, PJ Tucker was the most important player in the series. And well, he wasted no time in this one. Immediately picking James Harden up full court, switching and helping down low, while dominating as that weak-side help guy at the nail. When looking for the answers to Philly’s early scoring trouble, it was all PJ Tucker. But the reason I bring up the word appreciation is that while his defense was evident, he played a big role offensively. Yes he was 2 of 6 from the field with 5 points at half, but most of the Heat’s first half runs included him providing second chances and playing the “Bam role” at the 5. Then to start the third, it was even more Tucker. Forcing turnovers, creating for Bam off the slip and dime, hitting tough shots, and most importantly, getting them second chance opportunities. He’s been outstanding.

#4: Bam Adebayo showing up big time.

As I hinted at before when I mentioned the Herro-Bam dynamic, this could potentially be a Bam series before the Embiid return. There are mismatches all over the floor, for both face-ups against slower guys like Jordan or post-ups against smaller guys like Millsap. After being utilized a ton early than disappearing in that second quarter since they weren’t finding him, he began to be found to start the third when they went on their run. The point is not to harp of Bam’s shocking scoring punch in this one. It’s to showcase that he needs to be used like a top player on this team on the offensive side of the ball. I can understand aggression conversations, but there’s a point where he should be consistently have sets run for him. Whether it’s on the ball with guards screening, or backdoor stuff to feed him with mismatches down low, it’s the key to Miami taking that next step on this playoff run.


#5: The real reason the Heat are true contending threats.

When looking at this Heat team in the first round, there were glaring holes. Herro wasn’t himself, Adebayo wasn’t being used, Lowry going down changed things. Moving onto game 1 tonight, Butler wasn’t great, shooters were inconsistent, Oladipo lineups were in the mud frequently while finding themselves. Yet through all of that, the Heat keep finding ways to win. How? Well, I’m glad you ask: this Heat defense is stifling. They can go through a second quarter span where they forget how to run offense, yet still come out even. They have enough bodies to throw at any position 1 through 5, created a helping scheme due to the team being elite with rotations, and found a way to stop top talents. So, back to why this team is a true contender. Combining a defense that is elite of the elite with an offense that can go on wild runs is a good enough to be in that top tier.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Game Four Win Over Hawks

The Heat came off a loss in game 3 to go down 2-1 in the series, but bounced back in demanding fashion in game 4.

Big time play from Jimmy Butler, elite level defense, and overall positive flow on both ends.

They now find themselves up 3-1 in the series, so here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Jimmy Butler benefiting early from shifts in the lineups.

There were plenty of shifts in this game overall, from rotations to lineups to schematic sets. But the reason I’d like to start with the shifting lineups was that it impacted the team’s best player in very positive fashion. Other than putting in Victor Oladipo, which I’ll touch on later, they went small with lineups like Vincent-Oladipo-Strus-Butler-Tucker, which changes the shot profile of Butler down low specifically. They wanted to stagger the minutes of Butler and Adebayo anyways without Kyle Lowry playing, but this just furthered that point. Due to the extra space, Butler went to work in that first half with 19 points, even after struggling to begin the game. Interior post work, hunting guards, and pure takeover mode is what we’ve seen Butler lock into in this series, and man it’s pretty promising.

#2: Zero turnovers? Taking care of the basketball without their point guard in.

The Miami Heat went through the first half of basketball without a turnover. Another thing they were without in that first half was their steady point guard, Kyle Lowry, who is mainly responsible for taking care of the basketball. To add onto that, the Heat have never played a half of playoff basketball without a turnover. Well, until now. Simply, that’s not a normal occurrence, and the fact that they can do it without a true set-up guy is special. Some of that means they aren’t making those risky passes that Lowry likes to make, and it’s much more volume of insert passes and cuts, but still a very valid accomplishment. It’s next man up mentality, with a guy like Vincent stepping up into his spot, but the beauty of this team is that the front-court can make up for the lack of a point guard. Referring back to the Butler-Adebayo point.

#3: Can we talk about PJ Tucker again?

Looking back at the half, there were plenty of storylines. Two that I touched on with Butler and the zero turnover mark, the big run in the second quarter, Victor Oladipo minutes, and going through 24 minutes of play with 6 bench points. But you know who stood out to me in that span? PJ Tucker. For starters, he was the second leading scorer behind Butler with 10 points, and those buckets are the relief points that are talked about so often. Defender dips down, corner three. Defenders play high in an action, slip and floater. But let’s forget about the scoring for a second, and even more-so, let’s look away from his defensive presence. Looking back to my point about going smaller, the reason it’s a possibility is due to Tucker rebounding at such a bigger size. He had 8 boards at the half, and he was deep into the double digits in quality box-outs. Spo and Riley always talk about how outstanding he is in that area, but it truly allows for team versatility.

#4: Oh yeah, this Heat defense is legit.

We know what the Heat have done against Trae Young this series. Throwing different bodies at him, doubling high, picking up full court. But the job this team has done as a collective group must be discussed again. Under 2 minutes to go in the second quarter, ball in the hands of Young coming down the floor. Tucker pressuring all the way down, in a fashion that he just crosses the half court line at 17 seconds left on the shot clock. High ball screen comes, and some guy named Bam Adebayo switches onto him. Young immediately eyes his right, calling for yet another screen. His wish is granted, oh and now it’s Jimmy Butler who finds him on the right wing. He kicks under pressure, and Adebayo locks up Bogdanovic at the top for an empty Hawks possession. That is this Heat defense. It’s suffocating, it’s switchy, and it’s as versatile as ever. Spoelstra has some weapons moving forward on this playoff run.


#5: Victor Oladipo minutes.

Before this game, my idea of the rotation without Lowry was pretty consistent. Gabe Vincent would get the start, Caleb Martin would be next up off the bench, and the Victor Oladipo card is if they’re lacking shot creation or that extra initiation. Well, that’s exactly how that played out. The Heat’s offense was pretty stagnant for moments early, so they quickly transitioned into Dipo over Duncan Robinson. Immediately, it should be noted that his defensive presence was felt. He was switching and guarding isolations pretty well, which was something to keep an eye on when he returned from injury. The offensive side of the ball included a lot of off-ball reps, which is expected when playing his minutes next to Butler or Herro at all times. His best moments always come in the open floor, which makes me think more high PnR reps will be next for him in the half-court. Either way, he played his role well as the filler.


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Five Takeaways from this Miami Heat Season

On a pretty meaningless night of Miami Heat basketball, I wasn’t going to dissect the play of Sioux Falls against the Magic.

Instead, I wanted to zoom out a bit and go big picture.

So, here are some mainstream takeaways from the Heat this regular season…

#1: Tyler Herro’s leap, a Miami Heat leap.

Coming into the season, there were some decently high expectations for Tyler Herro on this team. He had a lot against him heading in with trade rumors and things of that nature, yet people still were projecting that 6th man of the year was in reach. But as we’ve seen, not only was he in reach, he’s the runaway favorite. And to that point, he’s exceeded all expectations since that first game in October, even after putting a target on his back that he was in similar “conversations” as some of the league’s best young talent. From a basketball perspective, we constantly look at the stuff he’s doing now under a microscope, but it’s pretty obvious that his leap has elevated this Heat team. On the offensive end, he’s allowed everything to gel together due to his shot creating surge. Yet when hearing the word “surge,” it feels like it applies to him in different ways week after week.

#2: Bam Adebayo capping off the staple of this team: a top defense.

After looking back at Herro’s play leading to offensive flexibility, that’s been the case for Bam Adebayo on the defensive end to an even further degree. Yes Miami added defensive talent, in guys like PJ Tucker, and lost certain liabilities, like Kendrick Nunn or Goran Dragic, but defense is very similar to offense: you can have skillful players, but you need the puzzle pieces to fit together. Bam Adebayo is the reason that they fit. The Miami Heat have won regular season games this year behind Bam’s impact on switches, weak-side help, or the pure fear factor. That’s why it just works, and ultimately why he should be the defensive player of the year. In terms of expectations, it’s fair to say that some expected he could potentially obtain that award, but becoming Spoelstra’s shifting defensive design isn’t normal. But he’s made it look as such.

#3: Jimmy Butler’s consistency and Kyle Lowry’s control providing positive signs.

In the off-season, we heard a lot of talk about timelines. The Herro-Adebayo timeline or the Butler-Lowry timeline. And well, they’re riding the line of both at this very moment in time, landing them in the 1 seed. I talked about that young pairing already, but that veteran combo shouldn’t be pushed to the side. Through pure numbers, there hasn’t been much change for them, but they’ve allowed this all to work. Lowry has led to a major shift in offensive schematics, as Miami has abandoned pure reliance on DHO’s, and relied much more heavily on ball screen sets and heavy movement actions. How can they quickly transition? Well, just credit Lowry’s passing. Butler also deserves credit for his overall consistency, not just in numbers, but in role. His rim pressure asset is nothing to play with, and we’re now seeing him taking a hypothetical step back for the young duo to shine. We know about the Lowry-Butler relationship off the floor, but the on-court duo is peaking at the right time.

#4: Do the Miami Heat have depth? Oh yeah, the Miami Heat definitely have depth.

The question that was posed often before the season when talking about this Heat team was: do they have enough depth? Not only rotationally, but to get through a regular season. Looking back at it now, both of those things are laughable. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin ascending together this season has played a big part in that, which is where “getting through the regular season” comes into play. Lowry goes out, oh Vincent steps up big. Robinson goes out, Strus steps up big. Butler goes out, Martin steps up big. Adebayo goes out, Yurtseven steps up big. It was a never ending process that quickly blended into rotation strength. These guys were no longer fillers. They were legitimate playoff level bench pieces. Now fast forward a bit more, you have some other guys on the outside looking in, with Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo, as Dipo goes off for 25 in the first half on game 82. Depth quickly shifted from weakness to strength, and now it’s leading to constant debates of who should play over who.


#5: A 1 seed built for the playoffs.

Moving the goal posts is a common occurrence in the sports world. As many proclaimed before the season, this gritty Heat group would be one of those “tough outs” in a playoff setting, since they will be one of those middle of the pack teams nobody wants to play. All of a sudden they land in the 1 seed, due to the previous section of depth, and now they’re a regular season team that have questions surrounding entering true contention? Yeah, like I said, the goal posts move. But it’s pretty clear when watching this team that they are built for a playoff setting. For one, they have a coach of the year candidate that I haven’t touched on a lot here, who is better at mid-game, or mid-series, adjustments than most opponents he faces. But more importantly, they’ve found their identity at the right time. They’ve known what they are defensively, but discovering this new look offense with more spacers, expanded sets, and a changing rotation has broadened this team’s ceiling in my view.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

The Miami Heat faced the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night after already locking up the 1 seed, and it had a real playoff feel to it late.

All the main guys played, and they got crucial late game offense reps.

Big Tyler Herro shot, nice Bam Adebayo control, and a major set up from Kyle Lowry late.

A clear confidence booster.

Even if the Heat are still not among the four favorites to win the East in the playoffs, according to Betway.com.


Some takeaways:

#1: Tyler Herro’s passing vision continues to spike.

Tyler Herro enters for Jimmy Butler, as the new substitution pattern sticks. Like most games, the first couple possessions look similar. Herro-Adebayo pick and roll, Herro draws two to the ball, and Bam gets a bucket. That happened immediately as he checked in once again. But then it was copied and pasted immediately after as a highlight lob pass for the Bam dunk. That combo is one conversation, but this version of Herro is the true conversation. It’s one thing to get to the point where you’re consistently drawing two, but it’s another thing to continually drop dimes out of that double since multiple guys are dropping down. They’re surrounding him with other shooters, since there’s always an awaiting Robinson, Strus, or Vincent on that weak-side. And that’s a post-season half court offense gift.

#2: Caleb Martin allows for defensive versatility.

Watching the defensive alignments early on, it could be foreshadowing something more meaningful down the road. In this instance, Caleb Martin is guarding the talented point guard, in Trae Young, which could also be the PJ Tucker role when he’s playing. But if the power forward is guarding the opposing 1, who is 6 foot Kyle Lowry guarding? Well, in this case, it’s the stretch 4 named Danilo Gallinari. It’s been clear this season that Miami likes to stick Martin or Tucker on those type of guards, but the issue is if the opposing front-court allows for Lowry to match-up with. Like I said, one that isn’t an interior threat like Gallinari is the perfect example. Sub John Collins in for him, and you must go in a different direction. But the point is that this allows for some defensive versatility, and that starts with these versatile wings like Martin.

#3: The Trae Young effect.

In a game like this, it’s more about projecting forward as Miami had the 1 seed locked up before even walking into the building. But the truth is that there are four teams who could potentially land in that 8 spot. And well, Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks are one of them. Yet when watching tonight, it’s clear that he forces you to empty the defensive playbook with a bunch of different surprises. As much as I talk about the match-ups from Miami’s perspective, Young is just that talented to bypass those things at times. Looking at the second quarter for example, there was a play in which Young tried to take Martin off the dribble for the entire possession. Martin wasn’t biting on any fake or cross. He locked him up for about 22 seconds, yet Young somehow slipped by at the last two for the lay-in. Those are the problems that he presents. It’s all about that 24 second clock, since he only needs that one second advantage to make a play.

#4: Bam Adebayo putting together a nice offensive night.

Instead of looking so far into X’s and O’s or stats, it should be mentioned that Bam Adebayo put together a nice little performance in this one on the offensive end. I’ve already touched on the stuff next to Herro, which is a major part of his scoring success, but his inside game seems to be growing night to night. There are plenty of bigs that he faces that clearly overpower him in size, but these slight fakes and baseline drives to get under the rim has gotten him to the line quite often as of late. As I said before the season when many were chanting for Bam threes, the better option would be his inside game to take a major step. We aren’t at the “major” point yet, but there’s definitely been a step. And that improvement could win Miami a playoff game.


#5: So, all eyes on that 8 spot.

The Brooklyn Nets took down the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, which are the current 7 and 8 seeds. Since the Nets have the tiebreaker over them, that jumps them up to the 7 seed as we speak. The Hawks sit right behind, with the Charlotte Hornets sitting nice as well as they destroyed the Chicago Bulls tonight. Now it just comes down to eyeing the Nets final game, as that’s the team most people are worried about. They win that game, then they’ll find themselves in an elimination game at home in the play-in, meaning they’re one win away from landing themselves in the 7 seed officially. There are a ton of tiebreaker elements to this right now, but the Nets road to that seeding now leans in their favor. Should be an interesting week as Miami charges up at home for that first round series.


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The Miami Heat’s Real Reason for the Rotation Changes

As the Heat walked away from a Saturday night stomping by the Brooklyn Nets, where they essentially trailed by 30 for a portion of the night, it was the final smack before wake up time.

They dropped their fourth game in a row, which included a week of a flamed up bench altercation between Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra.

It was clear that change was needed. Not just individually, but on the surface.

As the starting lineup tweet was released on Monday afternoon ahead of Heat-Kings, one face was a bit of a surprise: Max Strus slotted into the spot of Duncan Robinson.

Since that change, Strus is averaging a little under 4 threes a night on 50% shooting, and all of the best two man combos seem to include him. In terms of the starting lineup, it looks like it just works, as Miami has blended into a 5-0 stretch since the changes.

But if all they did was replace shooter with shooter, how did that improve the spacing or overall production in that starting unit? Well, that’s because it’s not about Robinson or Strus themselves, but who they’re playing next to.

One of the most lethal offensive combos over the years has been Robinson and Bam Adebayo, since they mastered the dribble hand-off that constantly had defenses in a scramble from night to night. One single action and two individual players reshaped the way the Miami Heat ran offense.

Well, until teams adjusted.

While opposing teams began to adjust, it felt like Miami was a bit delayed on the adjustment on their part. Grabbing a true point guard, in Kyle Lowry, allowed them to reshape in a different manner, but it was clear that Bam Adebayo needed to be unleashed from hand-off searching sideline to sideline.

Before the all star break this season, Adebayo and Robinson were playing 22.3 minutes a game together, which sounds about right since Miami wanted to mirror them as much as possible.

But the new shift to bring Robinson off the bench, has another game-plan in mind.

Since the Heat shifted the rotation, Robinson and Adebayo are averaging 8.1 minutes a game together, which is not only intentional, but one of the main reasons they switched the places of Strus and Robinson.

The new substitution pattern is to insert Tyler Herro off the bench for Jimmy Butler, so that Adebayo and him can get some run in space. Yet after a few minutes, Butler enters back in next to Herro with some of the bench group. And in the category of “bench group” lies Duncan Robinson.

Yes, the DHO’s of Adebayo may have propelled Robinson’s shooting in a positive direction, but it’s pretty clear that slotting him next to Butler and Herro is the better call right now. Those are the two guys on the team that can consistently draw two defenders on an attack, which consequently leads to uneven rotations and an eventual open shooter.

Robinson hit 7 threes last night in the win over the Charlotte Hornets, and 5 of them were assisted by Butler. Coincidence? Maybe a little, since that Hornets defense basically gives up open threes all by themselves, but we can’t overlook the power of this trio.

That three man grouping of Herro-Robinson-Butler played 9.1 minutes a game together prior to the all star break, which has now skyrocketed to 19.1 minutes a game since the changes. Yeah, it’s pretty safe to say that this stuff is intentional.


The rotation or starting lineup shifts aren’t the focal point of things clicking. It’s more about the substitution patterns and overall lineup combinations.

Yet while Butler moving over a position to the 4 feels to be the change discussed most, the starting lineup change is much more calculated than you may think.

At first it felt like it was as simple as letting Strus get a shot throughout Robinson’s shooting struggles, but it’s actually about maximizing both of them in their primary areas. Strus as a guy who can get shots up in any lineup and can provide a tad more athleticism. And Robinson as a guy who can find himself open more often next to his key sidekicks: Butler and Herro.

This isn’t to say that Robinson won’t still struggle from time to time in his role, but it’s more about setting these guys up in the best possible ways. Herro has sacrificed for the team by being a 6th man even though he’s valued much more than that. Guys like Oladipo, Vincent, or Martin have all sacrificed their rotation spot at one point or another.

Now, it’s Robinson’s turn.

Just looking at the Martin brothers who faced off a night ago, sometimes it’s clear that branching off is the best thing for a player’s success. After playing with each other since birth, this is the first time they aren’t on the same team, and each are playing the best basketball of their life.

Same goes for Robinson and Adebayo.

Not in terms of changing teams, but just eliminating the constant reliance on one another. Both of them finding their place without each other not only elevates the play of them individually, but for this team.

It isn’t a coincidence that these numbers have shifted this dramatically. It was purposeful, and it’s clear that it’s for the best.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over the Celtics

The Heat played a big one on Wednesday night against the Celtics in Boston, and they stood strong in many of the weaknesses they had attached to them.

Max Strus came up huge after shaky moments, Kyle Lowry took over, and the Heat stepped up big in clutch time.

So, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Tyler Herro and Miami making adjustments to start.

As Miami walked into the locker room at halftime, it was clear a 1 point lead was a win for them. A second quarter run from Boston raised an eyebrow at Miami potentially bouncing back, but the adjustments for Tyler Herro were interesting to me in general. There’s still much less comfort against switching than drop, but lucky for him, it’s a pick your poison thing with this impressive Celtics defense. Herro was being swarmed a ton in his early minutes, mostly since he was running into easy switches with guys like Jimmy Butler or PJ Tucker screening. Simply, he needs Bam Adebayo to set him up. The reasoning was that he needed to gain a rhythm by going at Al Horford in that drop. He did climb up to 10 points at the half, and it leads to a takeaway that Spoelstra seems to feel most comfortable shifting Herro around offensively than anybody.

#2: The broad idea of pace fluctuations.

Speaking of that Boston run in the second quarter, it looked like Miami was rattled for a minute. Turnovers were peaking, they began to play faster as Boston had transition success, and the lead began to swing. Aside from this game in itself, I truly believe it’s something to keep an eye on. Why? Well, the person that controls the pace in a game that the Miami Heat are involved seems to be a bigger swing than it should be. When Miami starts trailing the play-style of the opponent, things don’t lean in their favor. It doesn’t matter if it’s that they need to slow it down or speed it up in a certain span, but just having that control is an important element of this basketball team.

#3: Bam Adebayo’s defensive importance: something you know already.

While many were probably screaming at their TV at times in the first half for Bam Adebayo to begin attacking Boston’s bigs, it must be reminded that there are two sides of the ball. And for a portion of the game, Adebayo was wrecking first options for the Celtics very often. Many times we see it through Miami’s game-plan of forcing Tucker and Adebayo to switch onto the respective guard and big on that team, but they went the Giannis Antetokounmpo route in this one. What I mean by that is he shifted to weak-side excellence in this one, and his help was pretty elite for what he had to deal with on the other side, in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. You may hear a lot about Smart and Williams on the ESPN broadcast for defensive player of the year, but the ability to move Bam around defensively will be Spoelstra’s key defensive card in the playoffs.

#4: Kyle Lowry’s “real season” coming alive?

When zooming in on the third quarter specifically, Kyle Lowry was the definition of their offense from start to finish. He kicked off with two pull-up triples out of the high pick and roll, which is one of the most important elements of this team. Yes, not just Lowry, but this team. Defenses worrying about that shot gives Lowry all of his powers to dissect coverages in the half-court with his passing. That led to an immediate zip to Bam Adebayo in the middle of the floor, and a perfect feed on a backdoor cut to Jimmy Butler to begin the 3rd. The one question that I had walking away from that quarter was this: what happens when Lowry exits? That’s how big he was in terms of total control, which ties into recent discussions about spacing. It’s clear that when the playoffs roll around, Lowry needs the ball in his hands. A lot.


#5: Late-game offense evaluation time.

When heading into this game, I said on a Five Reasons Sports pregame show that the topic of the game would be late-game offense. For one it’s just that type of match-up, and second of all, there are two high level shot creators to create in clutch time during the Heat’s biggest time of weakness. As the score stayed close and the time trickled down, we saw Miami staying in base sets for a decent amount of time starting at the 6 minute mark. As Lowry checked back in the 4th, it was clear that the clutch time offense starts now in a game like this. But more importantly, the base sets were familiar since there was space to operate, as Butler stayed at the 4. Miami continued to spam one thing and one thing only: Lowry/Bam PnR, Strus/Herro spacing in each corner, Butler looming. That’s the formula to good looks in the clutch.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to the Nets

The Miami Heat were looking for a bounce back night after being embarrassed three games in a row, and well, they followed all of that up with an absolute obliteration from the Brooklyn Nets.

The team isn’t in a good spot right now, obviously. The offense has hit a wall, hard, and just simply seems like it can’t hang with a Durant, Irving offense when playing this lackluster.

But, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: The inconsistency of the Heat’s shot profile on display.

As the Heat fell behind by 21 at the half, many questions are presented. Some could be asked about Miami’s interior defense falling apart, but a lot of their buckets was Kevin Durant doing Kevin Durant things. But the main issue: the offense. When I say there’s inconsistencies in the team’s shot profile, I mean from possession to possession. Threes aren’t falling, the off-ball sets aren’t as crisp as they were early on, and their best players aren’t able to make plays on any given possession. It’s clear that the offense has hit a wall in that way. Kyle Lowry had moments, Tyler Herro was inefficient to start but did good things. But Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler have the eyes on them. Butler needs to figure out himself offensively at this stage, and Adebayo needs an obvious shift in his spots and scoring outlook.

#2: So, about Victor Oladipo…

Watching Victor Oladipo enter the game tonight, things quickly spiraled out of control from there. Not to say that was on him, but there are clear takeaways from getting an extended look at him. For starters, the gelling hasn’t been there. Tyler Herro and him haven’t been the greatest combo in that back-court, and Jimmy Butler has been mirrored with him a ton, which in my opinion isn’t a good thing. The reason for that is we’re watching two guys run the offense as the defense goes under the screen. We know how they defend Butler, but teams are daring Dipo to make that quick pull-up. Safe to say I’m not the biggest fan of those two together, as well as the constant pairing of Dedmon. If you’re going to go to Dipo, give him Bam who is a quick roller and shooters. If not, I think Gabe Vincent plugging back in come playoff time is a real possibility.

#3: PJ Tucker’s offensive need.

When talking about PJ Tucker as of late, we quickly equate every game he struggles to needing rest and simply missing that open corner three. But the thing about his play early in the season, was that he wasn’t strictly that corner threat. We praised the team for elevating his game from past corner spectating with past teams, but that has declined heavily since the all star break. Guys returning meant less offense would be worked through him, leaving me with a simple question: why? To maximize spacing in a lineup with Tucker and Butler, weak-side spot-ups isn’t the way. When the Heat caught some momentum in the 3rd against the Warriors after the altercation, the offense was being worked through Tucker for a good period of time. Some post-splits. Some fake hand-offs. Just something to give him more of a selection.

#4: Oh hey, Goran Dragic’s back. Yeah, that’s my takeaway from this one…


#5: Time to look at the upcoming stretch.

This is about as bad of a 4 game stretch as it possibly gets. A loss to the 76ers without Joel Embiid and James Harden. A loss to the Warriors without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, including a big bench blow up. A loss to the Knicks where the had a 17 point lead in the 4th. And now, an obliteration against the Brooklyn Nets. I’ve talked enough about that past stretch, so let’s take a quick look up ahead. They play Monday night against the Kings, which is the ultimate team to get back in the win column against, but we know how things have gone. Then Wednesday is against the red hot Boston Celtics, who provide their own problems with that switching defense. This blends into an April back to back on the weekend against the Bulls and Raptors, both on the road. The path isn’t getting much clearer, but the teams they’re playing aren’t the issue. It’s themselves. And there are clear issues.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Knicks

The Heat led the entire way against the New York Knicks on Friday night, yet folded late in the 4th.

They were outscored in the 4th 38-15. Clearly, problematic…

#1: A different look bench group gives Miami a decent boost.

When looking at Miami’s bench unit no matter who is playing on any given night, it’s always guard heavy. The way to know that is because Caleb Martin and Max Strus switch off playing the 4 from lineup to lineup. Yet tonight, those two guys were the smalls in the bench lineup. With Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, and Victor Oladipo out, those two along with Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon were the 4 next to one starter. I was a bit skeptical about the offensive spacing, but it went way above expectations. The reasoning: Morris and Dedmon spacing the floor effectively allowed it to work. Morris hit two threes and Dedmon added in a corner triple in that first half, opening up the motion sets for Strus and a driving lane for Butler. That group clearly didn’t lack size, which is a good change of pace from previous games.

#2: Jimmy Butler assertive and dishing early.

After the bench altercation in the last game against the Warriors, Jimmy Butler came out in the exact manner that you’d hope. Not only for aggression purposes, but using that into his facilitating favor. He had 6 assists in that first half, but that doesn’t illustrate the “over-passing” he was providing on the floor, which I’m not sure was coincidental. His chemistry looked as good as ever, as two late buckets in the second quarter consisted of him waving on the opposite side of the floor in direction of Kyle Lowry, while the Knicks were shooting free throws. Lowry bombs it, Butler takes advantage. He was taking smart shots, getting to the basket when he wants, and was really physical in the painted area. A good thing to see at this point in time.

#3: Caleb Martin is the ultimate Swiss Army knife, but why didn’t he close?

When hearing Coach Spo talk about Caleb Martin after games, you often hear the phrase “swiss army knife.” The reason is that you can place him in so many different lineups, against so many different match-ups, and a new thing that was picked up on, in so many different positions and spots on the floor. As I said a little earlier, Martin saw a shift up to the 3 with Morris and Dedmon entering the lineup. But forget the 3, since he actually went from corner spot-up and dunker spot spacer to running Miami’s actions. It’s clearly not his biggest strength, but he can get the job done, by making insert passes and exploding to the rim from time to time either for a bucket or some needed rim pressure. We know he’s a rotation lock, but this stuff can’t just slip under the radar. And more importantly, when Strus is getting hunted late like he was, Martin needs to be utilized as a closer. But that’s not on him.

#4: Bam Adebayo having moments as tough shot maker, yet quickly blends into team closing issues.

After Bam Adebayo finished off his third quarter stint, he walked to the bench with 16 points on 6 of 6 shooting. Usually when you see those type of clean and perfect field goal percentages, it equates to easy looks or more opportunities as a roller. Yet, that wasn’t really the case. His shots were far from easy, as he was taking some tough shots while knocking them down at a high rate. Early on, he went to a half spin fake before spinning baseline twice in a small portion of time. Why is that important? Well, for one, it felt like that was just added to his bag recently. And secondly, it was showing that his on-ball usage was a bit higher, for the lack of guards that I mentioned before. He even ran a few inverted pick and rolls with Kyle Lowry, which shouldn’t have the adjective “few” attached. When that is seen, good things happen. But lastly, good things didn’t happen late for this team tonight. All of the good I talked about from top players, disappeared in closing time, which continues to be a mystery.


#5: Jimmy Butler vs Udonis Haslem? Here’s my final statement:

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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Warriors

The Miami Heat faced the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, and it wasn’t your normal game.

Golden State got hot without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, which caused chaos on the Heat sideline. A Udonis Haslem-Erik Spoelstra-Jimmy Butler scuffle occurred, pretty much sparking this group through and through…or the exact opposite.

Anyway, here are some takeaways from this game…

#1: Kyle Lowry completely shifting the nature of this offense.

The Heat had some rough patches, as I’ll get into shortly, but if you were reflecting back at halftime, Kyle Lowry should be your primary takeaway. When you imagine one specific part of his game that needed an increase, it has always been that pull-up three. He’s an incredible play-maker in the PnR, but the way to elevate that is to take that pull-up when it’s there, which eventually shifts the defense. That happened in the second quarter, when after he buried the deep three, Miami’s offense turned. Next possession, he took a baseline drive after the shot fake, pulling the entire defense his way before looping a pass to Dewayne Dedmon in the corner for three. Right after that, he speeds pace back up by bombing it to Jimmy Butler for the lay-up. All of that is great, but it all spirals from that pull-up triple. Not by making it, but simply by taking it.

#2: The ups and downs of Miami’s offense and defense.

Aside from the positive of Lowry in that first half, one other thing strictly stuck out about this team: the inconsistency from play to play. Part of that may be that there’s 10 games left in the regular season, so they are coasting, but that just shouldn’t be the case. The offense came out flowing really well, but hit a wall. That wall could also be referred to as Jimmy Butler being subbed out on a night the team is without Tyler Herro. But we’ve talked enough about the offensive issues recently, while the defensive droughts are new. As they were out-hustled and out-energized in Philly, there were glimpses of that in this one. The paint numbers for the Warriors were wild, just due to the defense overplaying ball-handlers and allowing easy back-cuts, specifically baseline. That stuff needs to be cleaned up. Part of that was Victor Oladipo adjusting and Max Strus simply getting burnt off-ball, but consistency defensively is a major tool.

#3: So we saw Markieff Morris? And Dewayne Dedmon? Yes, and that’s the playoff theme.

When watching Markieff Morris to begin this game, it wasn’t his best stint in a Heat uniform. He was a primary reason for the interior scoring being so lopsided, and his defensive quickness just wasn’t there completely. With that said, Miami needed some type of shift, so Coach Spo quickly looked in the direction of Dewayne Dedmon to give them some size, rebounding, and an interior deterrent. But as I’ve said a lot, this team won’t have a back-up big when the post-season rolls around. They will have multiple. The fact that the coaching staff has been getting an extended look at Morris at the 5 has nothing to do with Dedmon exiting. There are match-ups where the spacing will be more important in that 8 minute stretch, and there will be nights where the size and rebounding is much more useful. They’re role players, so the role will shift depending on the series, and even the night.

#4: Jimmy Butler vs Udonis Haslem?

Jordan Poole hits another wild three to cap off a 19-0 run to begin the third quarter. As the Heat go to the bench, things go south a bit. Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem going at it, players jumping in to pull them away, Erik Spoelstra fuming. It a moment that represented two things: either the floor opening up beneath this team as the beginning of the fall. Or, the spark this team needed, not just in this game, but this season. Well, the next stretch pretty much gave you that answer for the time being, as Bam Adebayo and company made the subs go sit back down in the third to finish what they started. Offensive and defensively, they were locked in. Not stupidly, but they were locked in. That’s the energy this team has missed, and Udonis Haslem may have just done something.


#5: Bam Adebayo is the key to this team’s success.

I can sit here and have minor discussions about PJ Tucker’s post split success, the excellence of Butler and Lowry when they’re clicking, or even the consistent scoring burst Tyler Herro adds. But if I can be completely honest, through all of that, Bam Adebayo is the key to this team taking that next post-season leap. In that big third quarter, it was a bit blurry with all of the off the court stuff that occurred, but Bam Adebayo continued to have moments of interior dominance just due to the fact he had more energy than anyone else on the floor. He looked like an alpha. But the issue is that he only has moments as that alpha. If both him and this team want to jump to that next tier, they simply need alpha Adebayo. Can they get that? Yes. Will they? I have no idea.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Timberwolves

The Miami Heat fall late to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night, even considering Tyler Herro had a 30 point night.

Minnesota got hot from the outside, and they couldn’t counter.

Well, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Max Strus making his rotation case yet again.

Max Strus walked away as the player of the half over the first 24 minutes just from a spark perspective. He’s clearly not afraid to shoot it, but he also went 4 for 7 from deep in that span. Part of that had a lot to do with Miami’s attackers, which is a fantastic story-line considering they were without Jimmy Butler. Guys were getting into the teeth of the defense, allowing Strus to thrive as that extra pass in the corner or wing. Aside from that, his shot creation goes under the radar a bit in terms of screen navigation. One play to start off his offensive night began with him refusing a screen with a spin, turning into a wing pull-up. His catch and shoot is his base, but the on-ball creation is what makes his rotation case interesting. But simply, once the playoffs get here, a potential offensive spark when needed will be his primary role.

#2: Bam Adebayo making a small offensive critique.

Looking at Bam Adebayo’s offensive punch as of late, we’ve seen it in a different light. We’ve seen the big time performances when the jumper begins to fall, but this interior stuff is new. I talked about his presence down there against the lengthier Cleveland, but he wasted no time going right at the bigger Karl Anthony Towns. And it’s one thing to score frequently inside, and another thing to do it with complete authority and bully ball. That’s the key. Everybody highlights the need for more post-ups in his game, but when he’s going strong and using his body before going up is essential. The foul calls will come, but not shying away from that size is important. And man is he using that right shoulder before going up in the painted area.

#3: Heat edging away on the boards.

When monitoring the rebounding situation from Miami in this one, the Heat kept chipping away against a Timberwolves team that didn’t have Vanderbuilt who is one of their better rebounders. This isn’t to say that the simple Markieff Morris insertion means they need to go big to win that battle, but part if it was on Bam Adebayo, and the rest was just pure team crashing. We’ve seen Miami’s defensive plan against teams like Minnesota, where PJ Tucker and Bam Adebayo switch every pick and roll on a talented combo, like Towns and Edwards. The issue is that sometimes means Tucker is battling on the boards against that much bigger center. Yet tonight, I felt like there are some positives to getting by that, mostly through Bam sagging off the shooter immediately after that ball goes up, leading to the crash.

#4: Tyler Herro silently sliding under the scoring radar, but not from the Timberwolves’ perspective.

When going down the Heat roster tonight, many guys popped in the scoring column from the eye test. Strus was shooting really well, Adebayo was attacking. But somehow Herro’s 21 first half points outdid them all, and from my perspective, it didn’t feel like he was the leading scorer by that margin at that point. The reasoning: it’s the typical at this point. He was facing a Minnesota team that doesn’t allow many mid-range jumpers, meaning he would have to alter his shot profile slightly. Cutting that mid-range out is a quick indication to Herro that he’s going to get his three-ball up, which led to a plethora of pull-up jumpers. We saw that against Milwaukee about a week ago, which is a good sign for the playoffs. When it becomes half-court basketball and they limit him, stretch out into high pick and rolls then go to work. And if they throw extra bodies at him like Minnesota did, it all comes down to the supporting cast hitting shots.


#5: Markieff Morris return: sticking to an offensive base.

Markieff Morris returned essentially out of nowhere hours before tonight’s game, as some other key wings took the night off. I think we know what he is at this stage, so no major surprises, but I’m pretty sure the reliance on him as a play-maker would need to decline, even though I’ve highlighted his previous comfort in mid-post sets. Either way, that “mid-post” phrase is the key to anything involving Morris. His three-ball isn’t a consistently trusted piece of his offensive package, and the rolling reps are a bit uneven, other than transition. But a simple slip at the top of they key into the mid-range is his home, and Kyle Lowry will hit him in his “home.” He still provides obvious components defensively and on the boards, but his role moving forward is still in question. Another big man insurance piece to potentially insert in, since it still feels Caleb Martin has his rotation spot locked up.


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