Prior to the Spurs last win against Houston, they lost 11 games in a row.
Now walking into the Heat’s arena, a clutch game was almost too predictable.
Some takeaways from another bad loss…
#1: A different substitution pattern seen early in this one…
Substitution patterns have been all over the place this year, mostly since the roster has been all over the place. Now with a mostly healthy roster, the expectation is to mostly mirror Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo, then Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. At least that was the usual focus. Yet tonight, we saw Herro and Caleb Martin exit early for Max Strus and Victor Oladipo, which pretty much meant there was a large portion of time shortly after where Lowry, Butler, and Bam were all on the bench simultaneously. Yeah, that’s a lot on Herro to try and make work, especially with the roller he has to work with. Just keeping track of this stuff along the way, but this is a trend that I don’t expect to stick by any means.
#2: Jimmy Butler channeling scorer Jimmy Butler early on, even when he doesn’t want to.
In games like this one against the Spurs, Butler usually loves to sit back and play play-maker. It’s what we saw in that Grizzlies game in Memphis, as he wasn’t aggressive at all and the Heat couldn’t keep up at all. Yet as the Heat began to tail off again in that second quarter, Butler began doing what he does best. Pick and roll, mid-range bucket. Pick and roll, hard drive. Pick and roll, foul. Rinse. Repeat. There’s no doubt at all that he can score with the best of them, but that’s just not his style (unless it’s playoff time). It’s always good to see Butler dominate in that inside the arc range just as a healthy reminder, but we seriously shouldn’t need to see that in a game like this against the Spurs.
#3: All eyes on the point of attack defense.
The Spurs led by 2 at the half, and there were a mixture of things that led to that result. But I’d say by far the biggest element was the way the Spurs were able to walk right into the paint, time and time again. They were up to 36 paint points at the half, while shooting 18 of 22 in that area. So, what’s leading to that? This takes me right to the point of attack, since this has been another one of those common trends that just can’t occur. It’s one of the reasons the Heat have sat in zone, since teams seem to burst right by that initial line of defense when in man. The Spurs were sending cross screens and curls at Miami the entire half, and the Heat just couldn’t keep up. It hurts even more when Bam is not on the floor covering it up down low, but that’s another issue in its own right. Needs to be patched.
#4: Tyler Herro gets hot from deep, but more important, he’s reactionary.
Herro had a great start to this game, since it seemed like his attacks were timely and on point, while providing a bit of the necessary pressure. Fast forward to the third quarter, he scored in a much different approach, which simply consisted of getting hot from three. The first two triples of the quarter came from Adebayo kicking out following a paint touch, as Herro capitalized. But shortly after, then it turned into stepping into the pull-up. But more importantly, it was a reactionary process. Defender goes under off a Butler screen, he pulls and knocks it down. Same thing a few possessions later, they go under and Herro knocks it down. Interesting choice when a guy gets hot like that, but a good sign to see Herro read that in real time.
#5: The back-up 5 convo.
We often hear about finding the perfect 4 or 5 next to Bam, but how about we direct our attention to the perfect 5 behind* Bam. We’ve talked before about how things plummet when Bam Adebayo exits, and the entire goal is to stay as close to neutral as possible. But well, the Dewayne Dedmon usage just continues to be more and more interesting. He was 1 for 8 in this game, while shooting up 3 triples, which just stalls out the offense for large pockets of the night. The Heat weren’t expecting this to be the front-court rotation entering the year, but the injury of Omer Yurtseven forced them into this. Just remember: when talking trades, an extra piece in the trade for back-up big will be a major addition.