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Bam Adebayo Looks to Dominate ECF vs. Celtics

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

But it seems even more essential against the Boston Celtics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Tuesday Primer: Can the Heat free Robinson, get playmaking?

The Miami Heat are currently 1-1 in the NBA bubble after a blowout win against Denver and a close loss to Toronto. The Heat play the Boston Celtics tonight on the second night of a back to back. 

 

As the stakes are getting higher, teams are beginning to deploy special defensive schemes against the Heat. We saw this specifically by the Toronto Raptors against Duncan Robinson by running two players at him consistently and forcing him to pass the ball, in the rare occasions he got it at all. If the Heat were going to win that game, Raptors coach Nick Nurse made sure it wasn’t because Robinson torched them from the three.

 

This is just the beginning of the special attention Robinson will face moving forward. Robinson struggled to impact the game in other ways and was seemingly unproductive in 22 minutes of play time scoring 3 points on 1-5 shooting and grabbing 2 rebounds with a +/- of -1.  And he wasn’t in at the end.

When the playoffs begin, Robinson should expect even more attention from defenses to prevent him from getting good looks. Teams are scouting him and in a seven game series teams will adapt to Miami’s offense. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will undoubtedly unveil some new sets for Robinson to help him get better looks and to counter opposing defenses. 

 

But when opposing defenses are able to neutralize Robinson, it emphasizes the Heat’s lack of a true point guard and someone who can consistently create off the dribble other than Jimmy Butler. Rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro along with veteran Goran Dragic are the primary candidates to fill that need. Herro already gets fourth quarter minutes due to his ability to score, as well as make plays for others and handle the ball. Herro lives to play in the spotlight, so closing the end of games is what Herro wants. 

 

Nunn struggled against the Raptors too. He shot 0/7 from the field including 0/5 from the three, grabbed 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 points, a turnover in 16 minutes of action. Similarly to Robinson, Nunn often struggles to positively impact the game when he is not scoring. However, Nunn has more ball-handling skill and should be able to drive and create plays for others. His playmaking skills are still developing and he is not a true point guard, so it’s hard to expect solid playoff caliber point guard play from a rookie scorer. 

 

If Nunn continues to disappoint on the offensive end, we might see a change in the starting lineup — to Herro or Dragic. Herro came to the bubble showing an improved handle and ability to score off the bounce, especially when his shots were not falling. He continues to develop into a three level scorer which will be important in the playoffs. A change to the starting guard position might be the spark the starting unit needs in playoff games. However, this switch might disrupt the overall chemistry of the rotation. Unless Nunn, Herro, or both can show playmaking (and defensive) potential this year we should expect Miami’s front office to chase a strong 2 way guard this off season.

Miami will have a good test tonight against Boston, who has beat them twice already this season. 

The Boston Celtics are also 1-1 in the NBA restart and have played in two, down to the wire, high scoring games. Boston’s wings have been fantastic, but now with Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala, Spoelstra has more options to guard them. In their first matchup this season, wing Jaylen Brown went off for 31 points and in their second matchup Hayward and Brown combined for 54 points. And of course, the Celtics have Kemba Walker who, even on a minutes limit due to a sore knee, will be a serious test for Miami’s guards.

5 Toughest Games for Miami Heat on Updated Schedule

The new schedule is out….

And it’s no picnic.

All but one of the eight opponents is a playoff team, since many of what were supposed to be the Heat’s remaining games got wiped off the slate when those teams are not invited to Orlando.

Here they are, the top 5 toughest….

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Miami Heat will be playing the Oklahoma City Thunder on August 12th in the NBA’s resumed season. The Heat got the win against the Thunder in late January, but it wasn’t easy. They are sometimes referred to as the Heat of the west, since both teams were overlooked and a surprise to the league. Oklahoma City has the perfect blend of veterans and young players behind their leadership in Chris Paul and talented youth in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Their a tough match-up for the Heat because of the guard depth on the team. Miami’s weakness is not having a good defensive back-court. This will be a gritty and tough match-up for the Heat since they always seem to give it their all on the floor.

4. Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets got the win at the beginning of the season against Miami. It was one of the worst games for the Heat this season and was definitely one of Bam Adebayo’s worst games as well. Nikola Jokic is a player that seems to give trouble to almost anybody he faces, especially with his ability to stretch the floor. The depth of this team is something that not only could give the Heat major trouble, but also for whoever they face in the playoffs. They now have some experience under the belts, which may not be a big deal for the way these playoffs will be presented. Either way, the Miami Heat will have their hands full on the defensive side of the ball with the talented players that are on this roster.

3. Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors will be the second game of Miami’s updated schedule and will definitely be a good one. Toronto is another one of those teams that were a surprise this season after the departure of their star Kawhi Leonard. The Heat played the Toronto Raptors twice this season and came away with the win in both. This doesn’t mean to take this team lightly. They have fire power across the whole roster and seem to give Miami trouble on the defensive side of the ball. When Miami played Toronto in early January, the leading scorer for the Heat was Bam Adebayo with 15 points. That could be a problem. On the other side of things, Bam Adebayo seemed to be the perfect player to stop Toronto’s star Paschal Siakam. They match-up pretty well, which makes for a tough regular season game heading into the playoffs.

2. Boston Celtics

The Heat will be playing the Boston Celtics on a back to back after the game against Toronto, which seems to always be the case. These games will be played on August 3rd and August 4th, and interesting enough the Heat played Toronto on December 3rd and Boston on December 4th this season. Just like in that instance, the Raptors give the Heat a tough game and leave them exhausted for a young Boston Celtics team. The Celtics beat the Heat in both games they played this season. But one thing should be noted, Jimmy Butler does not like losing. The idea of losing to this team three times in one season will not sit well with him. Be ready for an absolute display by Heat’s star Jimmy Butler on August 4th.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

And finally, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s always a tough assignment to slow down a leading MVP candidate and only one guy seemed to do it this season. Bam Adebayo. The Miami Heat seemed to play exceptionally well on both sides of the floor against this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This is because the way to stop this team is to make everyone other than Giannis beat you. Which is what they did. Once Bam fully locked up Giannis, they then looked to Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, who did not seem comfortable in those situations. If the Heat could mirror the way they played earlier in the season, they’ll have a chance to take down the Bucks and try and secure a top 4 seed.

Miami Heat: Team needs to avoid fouling inside the paint

The Miami Heat are set to take on the Boston Celtics in what should be a great test for a young team. With the Boston Celtics coming in with a 14-5 record, they are certainly one of the top teams in the conference. Miami needs to focus on limiting Boston’s free-throw opportunities if they want to win this game.

Coming into Wednesday’s action, shooting guard Brad Wanamaker is ranked ninth in the NBA in free-throw percentage. With a 90.7 % from the line, he is extremely successful from there. Point guard Kemba Walker also touts a 90.7 percentage from the line. Part of the reason for their success is that they are able to get the line often.

One of the things the Boston Celtics have done well this year is get to the line. They are a team that likes to drive to the basket, and initiate contact. Walker does it very well in particular. Once he gets a full head of steam heading to the basket, it is difficult to stop him. Wanamaker does a good job of initiating contact on the shot. As soon as he releases the basketball, he looks to initiate contact with the defender.

Walker is 78-86 from the line this season while Wanamaker Is 41-45 from the free-throw line on the season.

What can the Miami Heat do to stop this?

In addition to Walker and Wanamaker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are also very good at driving to the basket. That quartet will undoubtedly keep Miami off-balance. Miami needs to force them to take perimeter shots and play tight defense. It may sound a bit strange, but Miami should live with them making jumpers this game. If Miami lets them go to the rim, they will force the Heat into foul trouble and put the Celtics at the free-throw line.

The Celtics are in the middle of the pack when it comes to making three-point shots. Converting at 34.5%, Boston has struggled a bit in that area. Miami should look to contain the drive to the basket and forced the Celtics to take uncomfortable shots. It’s easier said than done, but It can be done. If Miami wants to keep the winning streak going, they must avoid putting Boston at the free-throw line.

Goran Dragic provides spark in nailbiting victory

Sunday’s action on the hardwood was exciting to the very end. The Miami Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets by a 109-106 score. It seemed like every starter contributed, and that was great to see. This season in particular, Miami has been all about balance in terms of scoring and that was evident on Sunday. And they once again got a major impact off the bench from Goran Dragic.

Dragic provides spark for Miami Heat

Dragic contributed 24 points, six assists, and two rebounds in 31 minutes of play. His 24 points were the most since he scored 25 on November 7 against the Phoenix Suns. This was another case of a player stepping up and helping Miami get the job done. He went three-of-six from behind the three-point line. He also chipped in three free throws.

Sunday night he was definitely looking for his shot, going nine-of-18 from the field. His 18 shot attempts were his most to this point in the season. If the Miami Heat can get him going on a consistent basis, that’s just another weapon they have in their arsenal.  Miami’s versatility this season has allowed Dragic to seamlessly transition from starter to sixth man. That’s the benefit of having depth on the roster. The rookies are playing so well that Miami can mix and match their lineups. For Miami, it’s a nice luxury to have.

With games against the Toronto raptors and Boston Celtics coming up, the Miami Heat need to be firing on all cylinders.  Dragic has been a valuable piece to their success so far. Playing well and with efficiency will be key for both the Heat and Dragic and it will be interesting to see how they do over these next couple of games. These will be two very difficult road tests and will pit Miami against two of the best in the Eastern Conference.

The numbers-crunchers (kinda) like the Miami Heat

While 538 is best known for its political predictions, the statistical website runs plenty of models on sports too.

And it has run one on the Miami Heat and other NBA teams.

Here’s the entire article, which we will explore in more detail — zeroing in on specific Heat players — in future posts here.

But, for now, here’s a look at how they see the team as a whole, based on this calculus…

How this works: These forecasts are based on 50,000 simulations of the rest of the season. Our player-based RAPTOR forecast doesn’t account for wins and losses; it is based entirely on our NBA player projections, which estimate each player’s future performance based on the trajectory of similar NBA players. These are combined with up-to-date depth charts — tracking injuries, trades and other player transactions — to generate talent estimates for each team. A team’s full-strength rating assumes all of its key players are in the lineup.

 

— They have the Heat as the 15th best team in the league, with a projected record of 42-40. That’s actually below the over-under at most Las Vegas sportsbooks.

— That would have them 6th in the East, behind the Bucks, 76ers, Celtics, Raptors and Pacers. The Nets and Magic are next. If Kevin Durant returns during the season, expect the odds to change.

— They have the Heat with a 78 percent chance of making the playoffs. In the West, that would be significantly lower.

— Chance of making the NBA Finals? That’s at 3 percent.

— Championship chance? Less than 1 percent.

On that last one, they obviously haven’t watched Tyler Herro enough.

Is there hope in the East for the Heat?

Well, that went as expected.

The Eastern Conference first round was full of mismatches, especially with Indiana missing Victor Oladipo, and so it should have surprised no one that all four series were slaughters, with the favorites taking 16 of 18 games.

It was also a stark reminder of how far the Miami Heat are from serious contention in the conference. They finished behind the Nets, Pistons and Magic, teams with just a couple of certifiable stars between them. The Heat can talk about injuries (and they were banged up than the Magic in particular, though not the Nets). But the reality is, they’re just not good enough — and with Dwyane Wade retiring, likely about to get worse.

This isn’t us saying it.

It’s you.

After the four top teams in the East easily advanced, we polled it at @5ReasonsSports.

At last count, the Raptors and Celtics were “leading” at about 33 percent each, followed by the 76ers, with the Bucks way behind — because they have Giannis.

But the most popular response was “none of the above.”

It’s hard to envision the Heat passing the Bucks anytime soon. The 76ers? Even if Jimmy Butler leaves, they still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in their early 20s, and probably Tobias Harris. The Celtics may lose Kyrie Irving, but they are still stocked with assets.

The only real wild card is Toronto, considering they could lose Kawhi Leonard, likely to the Clippers.

But — and this is sad to say — if you’re betting Masai Ujiri vs. Pat Riley lately, you go with Ujiri.

Good morning. Paul Pierce is fake news.

Paul Pierce and the rest of the late 2000s, early 2010s Boston Celtics have always had an inflated sense of self.

They won one championship together, but you’d think it was 12. They felt they owned Ray Allen, like, literally. They believed they were in LeBron James’ head, right until he dropped 45 on them in their building of blowhards when the Celtics might have ended the Heat’s Big Three right there and then.

But Pierce, oh, Pierce. He’s really big market Alex English and slightly lower budget Carmelo Anthony, but somehow he’s always been the biggest blowhard of the bunch; at least Kevin Garnett was actually a top-3 player at one point. And last night, on ESPN’s pre-game show, he couldn’t help putting himself ahead of Dwyane Wade in terms of career accomplishments.

And Twitter had its way.

A few highlights of, um, Truth…..

 

 

 

And, finally, Wade speaks the real truth…

JRich, Winslow out for Heat trip

The Miami Heat need just about every game from here out…. and would seem to need every key player.

They won’t have two of the Kids for the next two games, however.

Neither Josh Richardson (heel) nor Justise Winslow (thigh) traveled to New York for the opening contest of a short trip that finishes in Boston.

That means Goran Dragic will continue to start at point guard, with Derrick Jones Jr. also likely taking a spot in the lineup. It also means that the Heat will rely heavily on Dwyane Wade and Dion Waiters to provide offense.

That should be enough against New York.

Against the Celtics, who are trying to grab a homecourt seed in the East?

We’ll see.