Tag Archive for: Bam Adebayo

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Grizzlies

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.

Some takeaways….

#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.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Jazz

The Miami Heat clearly needed this one…

Another clutch game down the stretch ends in a big Tyler Herro three with a minute to go.

Some takeaways…

#1: What’s been needed from Gabe Vincent the most showcased early on…

When it comes to early positives, Gabe Vincent came out played well early on. Why was that? Well that was the game-plan considering the Jazz were planting Lauri Markkanen on Vincent one-on-one. He clearly wasn’t afraid to attack that right out the gates, leading into 3 early triples off spot-up movement jumpers. But that isn’t even what’s been needed most from him. I’m going to talk about the defensive issues next, but he was everywhere defensively in that opening stint from an individual perspective, which is what we were used to last year. Point of attack hound who obtained a certain level of screen navigation that this team truly needed. We’ve seen less consistency with that this season it feels, which is why quick flashes showcase the real need from him heading down the stretch of the season.

#2: Heat defensive slippage coming from two Jazz areas in first half…

It feels like it’s the same thing every night when I illustrate the early first half defense for the Heat. Positional slippage is the main surprise for me, since it’s obvious the isolation defense won’t be superior when eyeing down this roster. But what has continually kept this Heat defense intact over recent seasons is the strong rotations, wise close-outs, and on-a-string type defense. Right now, that’s not the case, as this Heat team has been the 23rd best defense in first quarters post All Star break. To take it a step forward, the opposing formula this time around was even more odd, as two players combined for 41 points: Lauri Markkanen and Simone Fontecchio. The common thread still comes back to a drop-off in their specialty: Markkanen off secondary attacks and Fontecchio off spot-up movement threes. Two elements that reflect team defense and positional stuff. A weird, weird trend.

#3: The current rotation at (almost) full health.

Just to note what things looked like for the Heat roster wise, the one thing I was curious about was the rotation tonight. Erik Spoelstra said pregame that Gabe Vincent would continue to get the start, as he wants to ramp up the minutes for Kyle Lowry slowly, but the question became: Do they go 10? Will somebody be cut from the 9 man rotation? Duncan Robinson or Haywood Highsmith (who are the 11th and 12th looking in)? Well, the answer was that the Heat went 10. An early entrance for Omer Yurtseven, followed by Max Strus. Caleb Martin, Kyle Lowry, and Victor Oladipo came soon after, as we saw a very short stint of an all bench lineup. Way to take the non-Butler and Bam minutes up a notch (lol). For full-on rhythm purposes from both a coaching and player perspective, I’m not the biggest fan of 10, especially when depth hasn’t been your friend. My thing to watch is that if they inevitably bump down to 9, what group of guys does that consist of?

#4: Some Bam Adebayo slippage?

The hot topic over the recent stretch has been the back seat Bam Adebayo has taken along the way for Miami’s struggles. We keep saying Jimmy Butler is looking around an empty room at the moment, but Bam Adebayo was this group’s high level playing incredible basketball for the first 2 and a half quarters of the season. But lately, the effectiveness and comfort doesn’t seem to be there. The usual dotted line/ free throw line jumpers aren’t on high volume, as more stuff has included entry passes baseline and things going toward the rim. Why is that? Well that could have something to do with the spacing purposes in the new lineup with Kevin Love, as Caleb Martin used to be the baseline roamer and rim diver in those lineups. But it’s not about fit, he’s just flat at the moment. The defense hasn’t been as full force in your face either, which is the real element that makes you look twice. Late in the third they got him going on the break a bit in transition for easy ones into an eventual offensive board and put-back to finish the quarter, which is necessary when he’s pressing in the half-court. They need the pre All Star break Bam Adebayo again. Badly.

#5: Another late-game walk-through…

Around 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter of another close game to nobody’s surprise, the Heat were getting a decent stretch from Victor Oladipo. This came just after a couple of relief threes from Kyle Lowry that was much needed, but Oladipo hit a big spot-up three himself. Shortly after he caught his man sleeping and floated baseline off a cut for an easy lay-up. For this offense to flow correctly, that movement from him is needed immensely. Fast forward to 4 minutes to go, Jimmy Butler has a miscommunication with Bam Adebayo on a cut for a turnover, Jazz go in other direction for a lob to Walker Kessler. Jazz go up 2, Heat call timeout. What else would the play-call be? A Jimmy Butler triple on the left wing. A little over a minute to go, Talen Horton Tucker hits a tough turnaround to go up 1. The next possession, Tyler Herro does Tyler Herro things with a step back 3 to take the lead by 2. Gabe Vincent draws an offensive foul on the other end after review, but Heat come up short with a Herro tie up. Heat force a miss on other end, as Bam comes down with the rebound to ice the game with free throws.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cavs

Well, this wasn’t pretty.

There were ups, and even more downs.

But some big shots from Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things led the way.

Some takeaways…

#1: Donovan Mitchell hot first half, eyeing the defensive plan…

Donovan Mitchell had a hot opening half on Friday night scoring a very efficient 25 points, along with 6 threes. In comparison to a game ago where the Cavaliers had Darius Garland, you would think the Heat would be able to focus more on the on-ball magic of Mitchell, right? Well nasty crossover after step back three gave a very different impression. The early problems weren’t that they weren’t focused on Mitchell, it was that they were *too* focused on him. By that I mean, they were getting lost off-ball time and time again, leaving them behind in rotations and giving Cleveland open slots to operate. From there, that’s when Mitchell got busy on his step back threes against single coverage. Felt like more blitzing and shading was necessary than he was being given, but this is the exact reason I’ve harped on leaning defense in this rotation by now.

#2: The turnover problems continue…and that’s a *big* problem.

There hasn’t been an extremely heavy diet of wins this season for the Heat, but do you know the common thread between most of them? The turnover battle. Before I get into the main slice of this from the game tonight, the Heat’s defense was elite for the sole reason of pressuring and forcing turnovers. More possessions, more fast-break opportunities, more of a chance to win with this uneven half-court offense. Now to the specifics of this game, they weren’t putting themselves in a position to win that battle with the amount of careless ones they were giving up. Part of this is the two primary offensive hubs aren’t guard creators, so the creation to your trigger is not a pass first guard. (I know what you’re thinking: that’s ideally Kyle Lowry) But it’s pretty simple that this Heat team isn’t good enough for Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo specifically to be that high volume in turnovers, just as the usage rises.

#3: My take on what’s needed from Bam Adebayo in a certain unit.

So the Heat changed things up a bit with the rotations recently, as Butler anchors the second unit late into the first quarter, while Adebayo and Herro exit early to re-enter with some of the role guys to begin the second quarter. But the usage of Bam in that lineup has stuck out to me heavily. They use him as a roller even more than usual, part of the Herro or Oladipo pick and roll sets, which ties back to the turnover conversation. Bam should not be a primary roller here. He needs to be a primary option off the attack on the ball. Cross screen into mid-post insertion. Pin-down into a curl at free throw line. The stuff that puts him in creation mode, instead of the reactionary base to the guards. This is something everybody wants to see in general, but it’s needed even more when Butler isn’t out there as well.

#4: Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things.

When it comes down to unwatchable stretches, this third quarter tonight was definitely up there. Heat came out and score a quick 10 points and seem to be rolling, yet things plummeted shortly after. Not able to get a stop on one end, with just an insanely bad offensive process on the other end, feeling like a full on grind every single time. With that said, late in the third, Jimmy Butler began resorting to a bit of a jumper display. He was hitting them, but that pretty much sums up the process of the offense. Even aside from the jumpers, he was the entire key to every Heat offensive run that was made in this game. Why is that? Well as I harp on repeatedly, his mid to low post touches are the savior to the Heat’s offense. He was getting whatever, whenever he wanted in this game, but the rough stretches for this team were just…rough.

#5: The fourth quarter…

Adebayo drives, kicks, and Herro finds just enough space to get off a leaning triple in the corner. 1 point game. Heat force a miss, Herro gets it into transition, pull-up three to take a 2 point lead. That was a stretch early in the fourth that shifted some energy back on Miami’s side. Heat force a turnover on an inbounds around the halfway mark of the fourth, leading to a Strus pass to Bam for the dunk. 3 point game. Butler began getting into some of that downhill juice shortly after. A tough lay-in into a bump and float jumper off glass into a strong drive down an open lane for the dunk. Heat up 7 now with Butler entering that mode. Some back and forth ensued with some triples falling in the Cavs favor, putting this game back at a 3 point lead for Miami. Another late shot clock jumper by Tyler Herro put Miami up 5, on an extremely tough step back. Mitchell responds again with a floater. A Mobley lob under a minute to go puts things at a 1 point game. 20 seconds left, Strus screens as Butler ends around, leading into yet another pull-up jumper. 3 point game again. Mitchell ends up getting fouled at the rim with 10 seconds left, putting Miami in a position I feel like I’ve seen them in 100 times this year. Martin knocked down 2 free throws, and Miami escaped with a win.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Cavs

Starting another two-game home set, the Heat faced the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

They fell late after making a decent push, but let’s get right into the takeaways…

#1: Against the best paint protection team in the league, the Heat find success in the interior.

Matching up with the best defense in basketball, it should also be mentioned that this team formulated their scheme from the Milwaukee Bucks. Protect the paint, play with length, and force the opposing team into mid-range shots. So what did the Heat do in the opening quarter? Went right at their bigs in the paint. The Heat had 12 made field goals in the first quarter, and 9 of those came in the paint. They were also shooting 75% from the field in that range. Credit to Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler who were converting down there often, but it was also intentional schematically. The Heat drew up 2 early sets to get Love into some high-low actions for a lay-in. Miami usually counters this style with a ton of threes, but with their current roster state, they clearly can’t be relying on that element.

#2: Bam Adebayo in foul trouble means…literal trouble.

To start this game out, Bam Adebayo was guarding Donovan Mitchell on the far sideline who was tight roping it already. Adebayo gave a slight hand-check, leading into a very quick foul, and a pretty pour decision in the bigger picture. Shortly after, Adebayo picked up his second foul, which put Miami in a very awkward position when it comes to the troublesome no-Butler/Bam minutes. The Heat have been trying to get Adebayo back in to begin the second and altering those two guys’ time, yet they couldn’t do that with his two fouls. Instead the Cavs made a run in a long 3 minutes, before he came back in at the 10 minute mark. And there landed another quick foul, putting him at 3. He didn’t play the rest of the quarter, but it just displays the value of Bam, and the need to be smart with his hands.

#3: Jimmy Butler has been thrown his fair share of basketball related allegations, but I’d like to cross one off the list.

We had the “Jimmy Butler being doubled” conversation in the past. We’ve had the “Jimmy Butler against length” conversation even more often, since there have been a few nights where teams schematically place their bigger versatile defender on him to bother. But if I can confidently cross anything off the list, it would be facing length No question he wants smaller match-ups, it’s quite literally what he’s searching for all game, which was actually Max Strus screens to get Darius Garland in the action who kept hedging and recovering. But even with that, he was seeing a whole lot of both Mobley and Allen early on, yet still find ways to get them in the air and get to the line. Plus he had some buckets in the paint off secondary attacks. The point is that this shouldn’t be a benchmark of concern.

#4: The X’s and O’s action of the night…

When it comes to my schematic takeaway of the night, the Heat were getting to a pretty different three-man action in the half-court than we are accustomed to: Gabe Vincent, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love. Early in the game they used Love as the perimeter passing hub, as Vincent positioned himself for the back-screen for Butler. Butler dove, and so did 2 Cavalier defenders. Love swung to Vincent, who drove and dumped it off to Bam for the dunk. We saw this many times throughout the game, flashing once in the third quarter with the exact set-up. Except this time they weren’t prepared to double Butler on the roll, as Love lobbed it to him for the easy conversion. They’re going to need more from Vincent and Love as scoring threats to really make this hub a true success.

#5: The fourth quarter…

As the clock hit the 6 and a half minute mark, a timeout was called, as Heat fans hoped this was finally the stoppage to get their best player Jimmy Butler back into the game. Luckily they kept the deficit at only 7 in that span, since it’s just simply a risky game to play with them losing so many games in that 2 to 3 minutes this season. The offensive spacing was not looking too great for the first few minutes, as the Cavs were basically daring Oladipo to make plays off the catch. Around the 4 minute mark, a Bam elbow touch turned into a contact drive for the and-1. 5 point game. Heat had a good look off a turnover right after, but Herro came up just short on the three. After a timeout, the Heat drew up another elbow touch for Bam, as Butler got fouled off-ball and went to the free throw line. Heat force turnover on other end and run the break for a big time Martin dunk. Garland responds with a bucket and a 3 point lead, as a very odd possession ends in full Oladipo dribbling and a 3 point chuck. Cavs score on other side, and they’re up 5 again. After some trouble inbound in what felt like a game that was over, Heat force a 5 second violation. Miami draws up a nice set to hit Herro cross court, who rises up with full contest. Back at 2 point game. A potential Bam steal on the following inbound was collapsed upon when the ref called a foul, as Jarrett Allen went 1 for 2. Down 3, a pindown for Strus is the set and it’s off the rim. It felt like Herro should’ve been the call, but they got a decent look. Heat lose…

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

Heat beat the Hawks the second time in 3 days after a very strong showing from their bench.

Oladipo, Martin, Robinson come up big.

Some takeaways…

#1: Another horrendous defensive start for the Heat…

The Hawks were 2 points shy of handing the Heat their 3rd 70 point first half in the last 4 games. When it comes to expectations, did we think the early lineups they’ve been leaning into were going to be elite defensive units? I know I haven’t. But the issues have felt so simple when it comes to the schematics. The game-plan has been generally fine, yet the lack of resistance to stop the ball is the start of all their problems. This Hawks team wasn’t just killing them from deep, since they only collected 5 triples through the first 24 minutes. They were bursting by the point of attack with ease and making plays in the lane. 38 points in the paint in that first half, going 19 of 24 from the field in that range. Yeah, the shot profile was rather simple.

#2: In the meantime, Heat offense actually somewhat humming? But one constant downfall…

While the Heat were putting together an embarrassing defensive half, the Heat were quietly stringing together some of their best offense in some time. 7 of 12 from three and 54% shooting overall. A main key to that was the bench unit didn’t fully fall off a cliff, giving credit to Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin, who I will get into more extensively next. Like it usually is, all of their scores were heavy half court grinds and sets, but there is one downfall that keeps popping up: turnovers. If the Heat could find a way to wind that down a bit, the offense would be in such a better spot. Usually the second unit gets careless with Victor Oladipo leading the offense into some giveaways, but it’s the guard room in general. That screams discomfort. But either way, they were battling through that for positive scoring surprisingly.

#3: Caleb Martin finally thriving in his role.

Now when it comes to full on positives, Caleb Martin has been a major one over the last few games. As we’ve addressed all year, Martin needs to be in a role off the bench that fits him, as Bam described as “free,” while also pointing out the obvious of not having to play at the four. As for tonight, he saved the Heat’s offense. Not just because he had 16 points in that span, but the way he was getting it. Back-door cut, off-ball movement, simple slip. The consensus there, he was the only player for Miami that was moving in a way to support the hubs in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He’s also athletic and skilled enough to make plays at the rim following the dime, leading to some early trips to the line. It’s pretty clear he looks extremely more comfortable at the moment.

#4: The two sides of Victor Oladipo on a night to night, play by play basis.

It’s been evident for a while when watching Victor Oladipo that it’s essentially a seesaw effect. There are the moments where he’s hitting shots, putting pressure on the rim, and forcing turnovers to get on the break. Yet there are other times where the turnovers are just way too much for the Heat to overcome. We saw both of these things tonight. In that first half, he was definitely loose with the ball much like the entire Heat roster, but he’s basically the man in control with that unit. Fast forward to the third, he really changed the outlook for them, beginning with a tough crossover and step back triple in the corner. He followed that up by just literally shifting the pace. Every rebound, every shot, while being on the ball or off, he was sprinting down the floor with clear momentum. It gave them a jolt, and that added pace is needed for this team, especially in that unit. Later to begin the fourth, a Duncan Robinson lob to Oladipo cemented that.

#5: Late-game finish…

Heat trailed by 1 with under seven minutes to go, and they were still searching for Duncan Robinson. Hand-off, denial, re-hand-off, three pointer. Trae Young responds with a three of his own, before Herro gets comfortable on a right wing three to put it back even at a tie game. 113-113. Out of the timeout, Heat get some offensive boards into an eventual kick-out to Caleb Martin for three, flowing back into a Jimmy Butler pick and roll who finds Herro in the same corner. That put Miami at 16 of 28 from three on the night. Hawks responded back to cut it to 3, before Butler hit a fading short jumper to put it back at 5. Heat muck up the play defensively, force a turnover, and Bam throws it down the floor to Herro. Up 7. Trae Young gets a floater to go, so Miami needs a bucket here. Heat keep going to the Butler-Herro PnR with Herro screening to get Young in the action: Butler floater. Another Young floater to counter, right before Herro turns it over on a blitz for a Murray lay-in. Heat up 125-122. Miami runs a Bam-Butler inverted PnR with 40 seconds left, and he hits the jumper. One problem: it was called a travel. Luckily Heat force a turnover on other end, and Butler gets fouled to ice it at the line.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

After some real crushing losses in this building for the Heat this week, they finally had a breakthrough against the Hawks.

Smooth offense, Bam Adebayo’s best game since the All Star break, and simply a needed win.

Some takeaways…

#1: The Heat changing up their offensive actions a bit, starting off with an uncommon two-man action.

When it comes to the Heat scoring 66 points in the first half, it’s obvious we don’t see that often. But we also saw something within their process that we don’t see often, and that began right out the gates when Miami noticed an interesting match-up. With Trae Young on Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler was searching for Tyler. They were running a heavy diet of two-man game, which usually ended in an easy pocket pass to Butler on the short roll, as he can search for the best option back-side within that 4-on-3. That was part of the reason Butler ended up with 5 assists at half, since they were over-committing when he got 2 feet in the lane. The other main adjustment surrounded the focus of Bam Adebayo, which I will get to later…

#2: There’s been a call for a shift in the substitution pattern, and the Heat seemed to have answered.

No Jimmy Butler, no Bam Adebayo. That’s been a lineup pattern that I’ve been tracking very closely over the last week, since it’s been so problematic night in and night out. The Heat changed things right off the bat, as Bam Adebayo got an early exit with Tyler Herro coming right behind him. There was about a 2 minute span to finish the first where neither were on the floor, but you can live with two. Just as the second quarter started up, Bam Adebayo was back out there. The entire goal is to give Butler the job with the second unit instead of Herro, since it can stabilize offense and control the turnover problems they’ve had in those units. It was clear the adjustment was coming, but good that the Heat didn’t wait on it.

#3: Bam Adebayo finding his flow, but it was intentional from Miami schematically.

As I said earlier in this piece, the Heat’s actions felt different in this game. The Butler-Herro combo was match-up based, but the Bam Adebayo sets were team/Bam based. Inverted PnR’s with Herro and Butler screening to get him downhill is always something that’s called for, and we saw that a good bit early. I’ve also been a big fan of running curls for him to operate off, since it’s essentially a living mismatch. Strus down-screened for him in the second quarter, he received it inside the elbow, jabbed, and flowed into a smooth jumper in his spot. A little bit later as Gabe Vincent walked the ball down the floor, Spo was punching his fist into an open hand, calling for a split action repeatedly. They got it to Bam, he waves Herro to fly off the screen, but it’s all a ploy to get Bam in space. Ends in a push shot for an and-1. My takeaway is as simple as this: run. actions. for. Bam. Adebayo.

#4: Cody Zeller time?

Only two players were in double figures as the game went into the half. Bam Adebayo and Cody Zeller. Yeah, that’s a new look for this Heat team. When it comes to his play, I keep coming back to one single word that stands out: activity. Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo are running in transition? Cody Zeller is sprinting a 40 yard dash into the play as a trailer. A shot goes up? Zeller is finding a body to potentially draw a foul or get his hand on the ball off a board. Heat searching for a decent look? Zeller is either screening in the action or off the ball. He is just in every play it feels, which brings me to that word activity. He looks fresh and he has played well.

#5: A needed win…

Aside from all of the schematic X’s and O’s stuff, the reality was a loss to this team would officially flush this season down the drain. I know you’re thinking: well, that’s been proclaimed multiple times already this season. But after those last two performances, they were in true total melt down territory. Also other than the morale side of things, this team specifically needed this against this Hawks team who are closely trailing them. A pair of wins in this set put you in a decent spot in that race within the standings. As I’ve been saying, the Heat’s new goal is the 6 seed. Avoid the play-in, avoid Milwaukee or Boston in the first round, and avoid total embarrassment to be brutally honest. Now you have to sweep this set on Monday.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Philly

After taking care of business against the 76ers in Philly, the script flipped back home in Miami even with no Joel Embiid.

Shooting, awful. Defense, possibly worse. Just a clear lack of consistency in all areas.

Some takeaways…

#1: Different defensive look from what we saw in Philly.

71 points, 11 threes. Those were the first half numbers for the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half, on a night that they were without Joel Embiid. I’m going to discuss minute distribution next, but the Butler and Bam-less minutes play into this heavily. This team falls apart on both ends in those stretches. But in terms of the defense, they were obviously forced into a different style without Embiid, but the pure will and grit shouldn’t go anywhere. Yet it did. They lacked physicality and were just non-existent with on-ball annoyance. They were switching a good bit when they weren’t in zone, which felt odd considering drop would force the looks you want from them: mid-range pull-ups. We can talk shooting all day, but the defense being inconsistent takes the cake for importance.

#2: If it wasn’t clear before, the Heat need one of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the floor to be successful.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo logging right around 16 first half minutes, they were on pace to play slightly north of 30 total minutes. Aside from that being an issue, they were almost mirroring minutes in that first half in a way we haven’t seen in some time. That forced the Heat into a 2-3 zone for a long period with Oladipo and Martin headlining, which has been successful, while the offense is heavily reliant on Herro and Dipo creation every play. Zeller-Martin-Strus are not going to create their own shot, basically forcing Miami into a very obvious offensive base for the time being. Thus forcing the loud 20-2 run from the 76ers. This team simply needs a Butler or Bam hub at all times, and they certainly will need more floor time in general considering the spot they currently sit in.

#3: Jimmy Butler vs the switches.

When it comes to a positive element of this match-up, specifically with this version of the 76ers, Jimmy Butler against the switch always feels to be their best offensive bet. He was searching for the Maxey or Melton switch what felt like the entire first quarter, and it was food each and every time. A couple of and-1’s later, it leads to much better shots across the board as they shot over extra help immediately. The only issue about them sending slight doubles his way? Well, the Heat shot 1 for 8 from three in the second quarter. So as they were shading extra defenders, he seemed to be making the right play time and time again, but it would result in a clank off the rim and transition play for the Sixers. Just something to keep in mind for counters in further match-ups.

#4: All eyes on guard play.

To reflect quickly on my earlier point about Butler and Bam not being on the floor, the reason it’s such a big deal is due to the fact it places a ton of weight on the shoulders of their guards. Tyler Herro didn’t have core on-ball presence as a scorer, Gabe Vincent was extremely inefficient, Victor Oladipo isn’t much of an offensive shooting threat, and Max Strus has his ups and downs. When it comes to the guards, the inconsistency is something to continue to point to. Like I said before, Butler/Bam hubs are crucial. Why is that? They get them into their best half-court actions, instead of the usual perimeter led sets. They just can’t have these nights from their entire guard room.

#5: Well if you want good news, I’ll give you the one single thing…

When it comes to the standings, the Heat currently sit in a play-in spot. But when scanning further up the standings, you would notice the Heat are only 1.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets. The only good news, like I said, is that Nets also lost tonight to the Knicks, who will be in this building in 48 hours. At this point, the goal is to simply chase the Nets to get out of play-in range. It feels odd to say on a night like this where they get washed off the floor by Philly, but one of their most favorable first round scenarios would be this exact match-up. Try and take your chances in the game-plan department against Embiid and company, instead of a play-in riot right before matching up with Giannis or Tatum. The goal is the 6 seed. I didn’t think I’d ever be saying that.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Nuggets

The Heat played their last home game of February on Monday night against the Nuggets, and oh look at that, another clutch game.

The Heat had their moments in this game, but they were just too under-manned for Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.

Some takeaways…

#1: A shift in the offensive base for the Heat.

As the Heat walked into the locker room at halftime, 62 points scored is a pretty solid baseline when taking into consideration the rotation tonight and the way this offense has generally looked. Part of that reason was getting aggressive Bam Adebayo in his spots early, and Jimmy Butler was heavily engaged in the half-court offense. Part of that engagement meant mid-post touches into kick-outs, which we saw an uptick with due to the fact this team was missing most of their perimeter guard play. No Tyler Herro pick and rolls to rely on, meaning more Butler/Bam in the mid-range. Butler had 7 assists at half for that very reason. As I’ll get into next, part of this should credit the hot three-point shooting, but his set-ups deserve credit.

#2: The battle of three point shooting…

Looking at the stat sheet after 24 minutes of play, you would notice a very different number next to the Heat’s 3 point shooting: 10 threes made on 48% shooting. Like I said, that’s almost double the usual number. The only problem with that: the Nuggets were simultaneously shooting 57% from three, mostly behind the automatic jumper of Michael Porter Jr. As I’ll discuss next, there’s only so much you can cover against this Nuggets team with Jokic’s ability to hit shooters. Aside from that, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent just simply weren’t shy about the shot attempts with 13 combined at half, which the coaching staff most certainly gave them elevated numbers as a goal number. When they shoot well, this offense reminisces the one of last year.

#3: The challenge of Nikola Jokic.

Nikola Jokic vs Bam Adebayo is as fun of a match-up you can get on the surface, but much of the time the Heat aren’t allowing it much screen time. When it comes to guarding Nikola Jokic, you must balance the over-committing doubles and strong close-outs when he throws a fast-ball to the opposite corner. A main element of that balance is trying to sustain single coverage as much as possible. We saw some points where they would switch, per usual, and that’s all he needs. He has a legit skill of sealing down low for quick insert passes and lay-ups. The other part of this is you really can’t go zone against him for obvious reasons. Bam Adebayo and company were giving him trouble when he was outside of the paint, but Jokic was winning the low interior battle.

#4: This Gabe Vincent starter thing isn’t going anywhere.

When it comes down to takeaway’s on a night to night basis, I seem to always walk away saying ‘yeah, Vincent’s role isn’t changing again.’ From the perspective of front office decision making, it makes the most sense to see what you have in a contract year. giving him the maximized opportunity. Yet from the basketball perspective, it most definitely makes the most sense at this current stage. It’s not that he’s having these eye opening performances, but he’s doing PG1 things. Taking control of the offense when needed, hitting spot-up triples, and bringing a certain defensive intensity. It’s hard to see this and say he’s going to be bumped back down to bench role player when everybody comes back. This is here to stay.

#5: The fourth quarter:

The Heat finally looked like they hit a wall heading into the fourth quarter. They went on a small 4-0 run to finish the third, but the game-plan seemed to be running out of gas. But well, they caught some energy. Ignited by a fading Strus three and hop step in the open floor, the Heat gained some momentum. A couple minutes later Strus catches in the corner, jabs to his left, then sprints baseline into a tough up and under. He was feeling it. The Nuggets made a run mid-way through the 4th, extending it to a 7 point lead with 5 and a half minutes to go. The Heat chipped away with some scores off defensive plays, along with Bam Adebayo getting to the line. 2 minutes to go, 6 point game. Adebayo began getting into his bag a bit on Jokic for a nice floater, followed by an insane block at the rim. With a chance to really put a stamp on this comeback, Strus took a contested floater that got blocked. Nuggets ball, down 4. And well, that pretty much sealed it after Butler missed a bunny to cut it to 2.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Magic

The Miami Heat made their way up to Orlando on the second night of a back to back, which always feels like their biggest challenge no matter the season.

An underwhelming 44 minutes turned into a wild comeback to finish the game, heading into OT, and Miami took care of business.

So here’s four negative takeaways and one long positive takeaway from tonight (lol)….

#1: Horrid first half for Heat offensively, referring to a certain matchup.

This Heat half-court offense is already a grind in the first place. Three point shots just won’t fall, they are clearly under-manned on this roster when eyeing the reserves, and the scoring begins and ends with a mid-floor touch from either Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. But why did it look *that* bad in the first half? Well, this Magic defense has the two components that Miami usually hates seeing: flat-out switching and length on those switches. That blueprint basically screams trouble for the guards. Every pick and roll was flattened out off that simple switch, and it doesn’t help the shooting cause when 7 foot small forwards are contesting shots off every catch. Most of the time it’s Miami doing it to themselves, but tonight it’s clear this type of matchup structure is something they want to avoid by any means.

#2: The way teams are guarding Bam Adebayo.

Bam Adebayo came out scoring pretty well with 6 early points, knocking down his dotted line jumper that he feels so comfortable with. But the water was shut off the rest of the half essentially, which was the theme of the entire half court scoring. Adebayo was still the best scorer for them through that initial 24 minutes tonight, which says some things, but I’ve been wanting to note how teams have been defending him. He has a strong base/hub, and it involved two spots essentially: off the catch in the mid post and off the roll in any space within the interior. When it comes to the regular mid-post entry, teams rarely will flat-out double him, even though we’ve seen it occasionally in the past. But when it comes to the stuff off the roll, teams are taking it away as much as possible. Pinching in from corners is the easy choice for opposing defenses, since they’re daring you to make a tough skip pass to the close corner. Bet on a struggling Heat three point shooting team to knock down that shot instead of their favorite shot making hub. It makes sense, but they have to find a consistent area of dictating their own shot profile instead of letting defenses choose it.

#3: While we’re on the first half issues topic, let’s talk defense quickly.

In the first half, the Magic shot 50% from three and basically had their way in the paint for different reasons. We know they’re going to switch everything, but one thing they are great at is sending calculated doubles to force turnovers. On the flip side when it comes to big picture comments, the Heat’s normal help defense has been off as of late. Too many times the short corner defender doesn’t rotate for the cut-off, as the Heat’s base is always to pack the paint and give up the three. You can always tell their energy level by those simple principles. In that first half, the missed help assignments created a ton of easy buckets for Orlando. And the key to Miami turning it around in the third: team defense. You can tell when they’re engaged, and clearly that was an Erik Spoelstra theme at half.

#4: Depth?

When it comes to the Miami Heat, they’ve been recently known for having a ton of depth, partly due to the revolving door of new ready to go projects at the end of the bench. But then you take a look at the reserves tonight: Jamaree Bouyea on a 10 day contract, who simply is unwilling to take any sort of jumper that’s available. Orlando Robinson, who fights on the boards and never feels to be a true negative, but doesn’t provide much offensively other than an occasional put-back. Haywood Highsmith, who I’ve been a fan of his rotational minutes in general, yet it’s clear the only scoring is the possible spot-up three you may get when left wide open. And lastly, Max Strus, who I’m sure you are familiar with by now. The point is this: when the starting lineup is inefficient, there’s no coming back from that. There’s no true offensive creation in that second unit whatsoever, which makes this so tough. It’s not only reliance on Butler and Bam being on the floor, it’s reliance on them generating almost every look. That’s basically the takeaway.

#5: Late-game comeback…

Usually I’ll start at the halfway mark of the fourth to finish these pieces, but let’s dig a bit deeper tonight. Down to the 4 minute mark, the Heat trail by 9. Bam took it down the open floor and ended up getting to the line off a leap to the basket. Shortly after, Herro found his spot in the lane for a tough floater. Timeout, 5 point game. After some back and forth, Vincent knocked down a transition corner triple to really give Miami some life, but Banchero kept answering. But then Butler began entering that mode. Mid-range bucket into easy back-door lay-in into another low block turnaround with 36 seconds left to cut the deficit to only 2. Miami ended up putting together a stop on defense off a Gary Harris missed three, and Vincent got fouled on the rebound. Free throws to come, as he buries both. Magic had a chance to take the lead off a nice inbounds play to Banchero, but Bam makes an incredible defensive play at the rim. With deja vu of the night prior, Heat inbound in a tie game with 1 second left: fading Butler three that misses. OT. And the next few minutes was all about Herro and his floater, continually finding his spot and rising up with one hand for touch shots. To put Miami up 5, Butler hit a side stepping baseline jumper with under 2 minutes left. Following some Magic moments, they had a chance down 3 to tie this thing up, but it didn’t fall in their favor. Heat win.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Rockets

Following all of the trade deadline commotion, the Heat faced the Rockets on Friday night.

What is that? Another clutch game?


Some takeaways…

#1: Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo PnR: begins with Herro’s shooting, ends with Bam’s rolling.

At the half, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo had 16 points a piece. They were essentially the entire offense in that first half, but more importantly, they were doing it together within the same actions. Herro got some threes to fall on simple pull-ups early in the game, which changed their PnR coverages to come. Bam’s defender now began playing much higher, leading to pocket pass after pocket pass to Bam on that roll for a flurry of buckets. It should be noted this isn’t a good defense, but this sequence of events in this two-man combo is a constant theme when things break right. What needs to break right? Well to simplify things, Herro hitting from deep opens everything up. Once you force that back-line to adjust, this pairing is in business.

#2: The defensive game-plan against the Rockets.

The Heat were giving up switches every time down the floor right out the gate. Well that’s nothing new, you might be saying to yourself, but it was for very different reason. They weren’t trying to flatten out this offense, they were trying to bait it. Alperen Sengun gets Caleb Martin on a switch, as Adebayo waits for the entry pass. When he makes his first move, the double is there. They were forcing a turnover prone offense into potential turnovers. This was a good base, but we saw the overall pressure was lacking. Exactly half of their points in the opening half were paint points. Miami was getting beat on secondary attacks, and aside from that early wrinkle, the Rockets’ added burst on the perimeter was breaking them down for a 56 point opening half.

#3: Clearly a switch for Jimmy Butler.

As I talk about very often, Jimmy Butler can flip a switch whenever he chooses. Once the calendar turns into playoff time, he forms into an absolute dominant force that is as tough to slow down as any. When it comes to the regular season, we get examples of that. Some night’s he comes out, and you know what Butler you are getting. Activity in passing lanes, getting to the free throw line, etc. Other nights, such as that first half tonight against the Rockets, he’s in coast mode. It makes sense on the first night of a back to back, as he intends to play his first back to back of the season, but it’s also predictable. The Heat should be able to handle business against this Rockets club without an all-out Butler, but it speaks to this roster certain nights.

#4: No more trade talk, buyout market talk?

Let me take a moment away from the game to talk what is next. For a while there we were talking trade possibilities, but now I’m being bumped down a tier. After an insanely quiet deadline, all that is left for the Heat to gather involves the guys who have been bought out. That is a very heavy guard pool, while the Heat have clearly lacked front-court bodies all season, as their starting power forward continues to play out of position. Russell Westbrook? Reggie Jackson? Pat Bev? Yes, this is where we are now. I’ve talked frequently about the need for a change of scenery of some kind with this group, and following no trade, this is the only place left to do it.

#5: Clutch game? Clutch game!

At the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, Jimmy Butler checks in. Under the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, Bam Adebayo picks up his fifth foul. They trail by 5 points against a bottom feeding Houston Rockets team with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter. The Heat had 84 points scored at that point. As much as I noted the underwhelming defense at times, you just can’t score 84 points in that amount of time against any team in this league, especially weak defenses. The Heat finally got back on the board a minute later, as Butler got to the line on a reach in, cutting the deficit to 3. Shortly after, he took a trip right back to the charity stripe, now only trailing by 1. Heat forced a steal, flow into transition with 30 seconds left, as Vincent finds Herro in the corner covered. He leans left and buries the three, on a shot he just always seems to love. Now up 2. They ended up fouling on the other end, sending Jabari Smith to the line who buries both. Tie game, 10 seconds left. Inbound to Butler, who drives and gets fouled on his way. 2 for 2. Except off the inbound, Jalen Green converts a lay-up with less than a second to go. Out of the timeout, an incredible play by Spo draws up a back door cut for Butler for the win.