The Miami Heat took care of business on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Hot three point shooting, early Jimmy Butler cooking, and one of their best offensive games of the season.
#1: Another night of early Jimmy Butler dominance.
Jimmy Butler came out in the opening quarter and put up a quick 12 points as he played the entire first quarter. The thing about those 12 points: 8 of those were free throws. He was getting to any spot he wanted when flowing downhill, and did his usual barreling into defenders to get to the line. Even though Jimmy Butler said the other day “Playoff Jimmy” isn’t a thing, I’m going to very quickly deny that statement: it’s a thing. He’s been seeming to really ramp up over the last week or so offensively, since you can slowly notice the volume rising. The key to a lot of this, though, is that he’s doing it with such ease. It just simply never feels forced. The moment it crosses the line of forced is when things can get sticky, but he’s just playing incredibly good basketball right now.
#2: Kyle Lowry anchoring the offense in his new bench role?
I’m going to talk the new look rotation next, but the role for Kyle Lowry didn’t change at all. Actually the thing that has changed the most as of late for him is the quality of play. The first half of the season, the adjective I kept using to describe him was “uncomfortable,” but this new back-up role has flipped that. The bench lineups have been atrocious, and he really settled that group tonight. Generating great ball movement for the offensive process, getting some paint touches, and just playing in his ideal, calm manner. Of course some relief triples would be huge from him in his role, but the secondary attacks might be even more crucial. If he’s willing to put his head down once or twice when that ball is swinging, that group should be in a good spot.
#3: Let’s take a dive into this new look Heat rotation tonight…
As I’ve been hinting at for a while, there was going to be a shift coming soon from the 10 man rotation to a 9 man rotation. The question was just: who will be the odd man out? Well, that guy ended up being Victor Oladipo, which honestly isn’t too much of a surprise with his play as of late. The other role players are just too important within their role in comparison to the wide ranging outcomes that can come from Oladipo’s minutes. It’s just one game, but still something. The other part of this is that the Heat actually did go 10, but that’s because there was a short leash for a certain rotation guy. Omer Yurtseven checked in and picked up 2 quick fouls. A little bit after, the Grizzlies run double drag with Yurtseven in that drop, and the ball-handler somehow gets behind him for the lay-in. Spo was furious on the court, and ended up going to Haywood Highsmith shortly after. Those defensive limitations are a real thing…
#4: It’s always been about the shooting.
With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, Kevin Love knocks down his third triple of the night to extend the Heat’s three point shooting to 48% on the night. Well let’s be honest, this is new. It’s usually me talking about the Heat generating decent looks but shooting around 20% from deep. I wouldn’t say the looks were *that* much different from previous nights in this one, but it was pretty obvious that the ball movement was much more improved. Not to blame Oladipo by any means, but I do think the ball sticks way too much with him in that second unit. Lowry did a good job of forcing swing passes, and Martin just doesn’t stop moving ever. The Heat’s three point shooting surged early last season and collapsed in the playoffs. The overly positive takeaway could be they’re peaking at the right time this year instead.
#5: Wait, not a clutch game?
Watching the Heat lead by 20 for a long period of time in the second half might be more of a new look than the rise in three-point shooting, Somehow even when they would lead, that score would evaporate rather quickly. Well, that’s the result of a team that looks anything north of serviceable offensively. Usually when these games continue to be “in the mud,” that just equals close game down the stretch. Why do clutch games continue to make appearances? It honestly may be as simple as poor offensive play and defensive overcompensating. Aside from the shooting, also credit to the Heat’s main three guys for coming to play. Butler was dominant, Adebayo was active, Herro was efficient. This is the time to keep putting these wins together.