5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Bulls

The Miami Heat got a win over the Chicago Bulls, but it ended in a much closer fashion than originally expected. What looked to be quite the blowout, turned into a nail biter late, as Miami allowed Chicago to claw back into it in the second half. But at this point in the season, a win is a win, so here are five takeaways from this game….

#1: Duncan Robinson. That’s it. That’s the takeaway.

It’s nothing new when Duncan Robinson is on one of these takeaway pieces, but this game was unlike the past ones. Beginning the game 4 for 4 from beyond the arc, and finishing the half with 6 triples can’t even fully explain the level of shooting that was being displayed. When he shot 2 for 10 from deep on Friday night, many labeled that as a bad game, but in reality, he played a pretty great game overall. Tonight though, he just showcased his primary attribute and deadliest skill, which is clearly the outside shooting. One major difference tonight was the dribble hand-offs were easier to flow into, even though he was being blanketed. That comparison takes us back to last season, since that’s where all of his looks were generated, but it just shows how many things open up when he has that as an option.

#2: Jimmy Butler’s play-making abilities are noticed and discussed, but still somehow underappreciated.

It’s widely known that Jimmy Butler is a crafty passer, but more importantly, a huge play-maker in Miami’s unselfish and motion offense. But when offense is flowing and shots are falling, that ability is magnified greatly, due to doubles on Duncan Robinson leading to open cutters. There are a few elements to this that make it so special. For one, he is such a patient player which is known with his scoring, but he’s such a calm play-maker. He doesn’t watch his teammate, he watches their defender, and that is the pure definition of a good play-maker. A main reason that his passing isn’t discussed enough is due to it being linked in a negative way at times, when people are mentioning him over-passing instead of trying to score. But once again, games like this put that all to the side, especially when he didn’t have a made field goal until a couple minutes into the third.

#3: Gabe Vincent’s immediate description was the wrong one.

Gabe Vincent was a part of the back-up back-court tonight due to Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro being out, but this type of game really shows his actual description. The original label he got with the Heat was a shooter, and it almost felt like that was all he could give them, since that’s all he showed in his short stints last season. The difference with his minutes this season is that shooting is the only element that he hasn’t shown. He’s a very active defender that never stops moving, and really knows how to scrap which is quite the Miami Heat description. Another interesting part about him that wasn’t known was his ability to get downhill at a pretty good rate, which looks to be his biggest strength in his offensive package. He’s been a spot guy with this Heat team this season, and he’s played that role to perfection whenever he’s been inserted.

#4: Trevor Ariza’s deep balls aren’t falling, but everything else is looking as good as ever.

Trevor Ariza went on a pretty unexpected run recently shooting the ball from the oustide, but the thing about 3 and D guys like him or Jae Crowder, is that there will be plenty of ups and downs. The thing about the role on this Heat team is that it truly doesn’t matter, since that element is just an add-on. The real impact is the defensive impact that Ariza has given Miami out on the perimeter, which was really shown early in this game tonight. The amount of deflections he accounts for is outstanding, which just highlights his intangibles of great length and quickness to clog the passing lanes. While this doesn’t seem like a game to give Ariza positive comments when looking at the stat-sheet, he actually deserves it which just furthers the point about Ariza as a player.

#5: The staggering of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo hurting Miami nightly.

Something that has to be done with Miami on a nightly basis is stagger Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, due to their inability to survive when both are off the floor, but it seems to hurt them nightly. When the team needs a boost early in the fourth or late in the third, it always becomes Adebayo looking for a hand-off or back-cut, while Butler looks for a drive and kick opportunity. The only thing is that Miami should be running Butler-Adebayo PnR’s at that point in the game, but just plainly can’t due to rotations. Not to make any excuses, but it’s the Victor Oladipo factor, since his short stretch with the team allowed Miami to run different lineups than the ones they’re forced to run now.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Spurs

The Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, expanding their win streak to 3 games. Bam Adebayo early on to Jimmy Butler mid-way through to Tyler Herro closing it out, while Herro’s fourth quarter explosion was very important for his near future. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: An early aggressive Bam Adebayo sighting.

Bam Adebayo came out in this game in a way that many people would want. Attacking the basket, trying to get to the line, and most importantly, capitalizing on the mid-range jumper. When playing against a drop scheme like this, that free throw jumper was available time and time again. Although Jimmy Butler’s passive ways early didn’t take advantage of that open space, Adebayo did, which ultimately allowed Duncan Robinson to flow in nicely per usual from the outside. Even smaller moments, like the second quarter poster dunk that was changed to a charge, shows the initiation he’s taking as the offensive focal point to play some “bully ball,” as Butler likes to call it.

#2: Getting a look at the Butler-Dedmon duo.

After Jimmy Butler missed the last two games and Dewayne Dedmon got significant minutes for the first time in that span, it meant tonight would be the first time we would see those two in action together. And as I talked about before the game, it didn’t disappoint, since the initial set when he checked in was a Butler-Dedmon PnR, leading to a Dedmon slam and a Butler assist. Miami has needed to stagger Butler and Adebayo’s minutes more and more lately, but adding a consistent back-up big for Butler to rely on is a much bigger deal than originally expected. Dedmon once again gave them some solid minutes, while showcasing his current shape due to the extra minutes Spoelstra is playing him game by game.

#3: Duncan Robinson improving decision making on the move.

It’s time to discuss the undercover areas of Duncan Robinson’s game, instead of talking about the obvious abilities with his shooting. I’ve also dove into his solid defensive rotations, the off-ball screening importance for their offense, and much more. But something that must be noted is his growing decisiveness when moving downhill. It wasn’t as important to bring up in the past since he didn’t get to the rim much, but that number has been increasing as time goes by. The 2 on 1’s created by PnR’s lead to Robinson choosing between that lob pass or laying it up with confidence, which he’s surprisingly been pretty good with around the rim. The reason this is so essential is due to him gaining that trust in his own abilities, which can spark even more growth in his game throughout the season.

#4: A defensive third quarter gets Miami back into this game.

The offense seemed like it was finally tailing off in the third quarter, just like it has in many spurts throughout this season. But during those stretches, it’s time to rely on your team’s identity, and that’s exactly what Miami did. Other than Adebayo’s continued dominance in this quarter, the headline was their defense locking in after the Spurs went on a run. The Spurs did not have a made field goal for about 5 minutes of basketball, which has a lot to do with the coaching side of things. Miami went into a soft press for many possessions, which then flowed into a 2-3 zone. An intriguing element to this zone tonight was that Robinson found himself at the top of it, which may seem to be an issue in the big picture, but it was the complete opposite tonight.

#5: A rough night for Trevor Ariza, but next man up mentality comes into play.

Trevor Ariza has found himself on most of these takeaway pieces since joining the team, but this was the first night that there were some down moments. He didn’t have the same offensive impact that he’s had lately, which is expected from a role, 3 and D player, but the issues actually came on the defensive end at times. Some blown rotations, lack of effort at times, and more seemed to jump off the screen, which is when KZ Okpala came into play. Okpala got minutes tonight due to Andre Iguodala being out, and the eye test said more about his performance than the stat-sheet. Shots weren’t falling throughout, but he really had some great defensive possessions and knocked down an important triple early in the fourth. It’s the motto of this team, and next man up was in full effect tonight.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Suns

The Miami Heat lost to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, in a game that three point shots were clearly not their friends. From Bam Adebayo’s lack of aggression to an injury scare with Jimmy Butler, it was a long night for Miami. But they’re going to have to lock back in immediately as they face the Nuggets in Denver less than 24 hours away. Anyways, take a look at five takeaways from this game…

#1: Duncan Robinson knocking down shots in a variety of ways.

Duncan Robinson began the game with an early explosion on the offensive side of the ball, but the shots falling isn’t the key element. The actual important part of it is the different ways that he’s scoring the ball. For one, I mentioned last game that he’s starting a lot of his sets a few feet behind the three-point line, especially being a threat from that range at this stage. That means he gets into high pick and roll sets with Bam Adebayo, leading to pull-up triples instead of straight DHO’s. It’s not all shooting for him as well, since he also is putting the ball on the floor quite regularly, while one hesitation on the wing into an up and under on Jae Crowder comes to mind immediately. If he continues to diversify his ways of scoring, it takes his level of effectiveness to another level.

#2: Trevor Ariza’s comfort levels growing game to game on both ends.

Trevor Ariza had a hot start as well for Miami, scoring a quick 10 points in the first quarter. It’s interesting that it occurred in this game, due to the constant comparison between him and Jae Crowder. This showed that although Crowder had an outstanding run with the team, Ariza is capable of having hot stretches from deep as well, especially since his comfort levels with the team are still growing. But it’s not important to dwell on the offensive side of the ball with him, since his defense continues to stand out. I’ve highlighted his strengths of guarding smaller guards, but the overall consensus is that his length and quickness combination is a terror in the passing lanes. When discussing this Heat team forcing so many turnovers lately, it starts with Ariza’s initial disruption on the perimeter.

#3: Non-Adebayo minutes the real issue for Miami.

When evaluating the box score alone in the first half, the initial takeaway may be that Bam Adebayo didn’t make much of an offensive impact in the first half, due to only scoring 5 points and attempting 2 shots. But if you watched the game, it would tell you something completely different. The drop-off when Adebayo exits the floor is going to occur on the defensive end, since it’s impossible to mirror. But the offensive struggles when he exits has become more and more apparent. Although some of it has to do with his overall impact, Precious Achiuwa’s limitations as the relief guy lead to that as well. Another reason for that could be Robinson usually exiting around the same mark, but those two are a package deal when talking about the team’s offense, and it’s obvious that they must find a way to stay afloat when he takes a breather on the bench. Either way, 2 shot attempts in a half just won’t cut it when facing top tier teams like the Suns.

#4: The pre-Oladipo takeaway: lacking a secondary attacker next to Butler.

When taking a look at Miami’s offense as a whole tonight, other than the shooting struggles from beyond the arc, the overall takeaway that has been discussed for weeks on weeks has made a return. The reason the Victor Oladipo pick-up was so crucial for Miami was due to adding an attacker next to Butler, since they lack secondary downhill guys on this roster who can get there without a screen. Although Kendrick Nunn doesn’t fully fall under that category, he definitely isn’t afraid to attack hard off pick and rolls, as well as fast-break opportunities. But the foul trouble had him sidelined for significant minutes, leading to that hole in the offense being even larger than usual.

#5: The overarching Goran Dragic takeaway.

The Goran Dragic discussion is quite interesting at this stage, since it’s been an extended stretch of time where the same things continue to occur. The things he once gave Miami offensively have slowly faded away. There’s a lack of burst off the dribble, not enough lift on his jumper, and many other things pointing toward the question marks of his postseason effectiveness. A main reason he was able to go on an incredible run in the bubble was due to the amount of rest he got prior. Now, he’s battling himself in a gritty NBA season, while Miami’s overall inconsistencies aren’t helping the cause. There are still moments that this team looks to him to be that takeover player, but that’s just not him at this stage, which means somebody’s aggression must increase, beginning with the young centerpiece Bam Adebayo who has yet to realize it.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cleveland

The Miami Heat beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, which expands their winning streak to 4 games and puts them 2 games over .500. Although Victor Oladipo didn’t have the expected offensive bounce back game, he impacted in other ways, and ultimately was a needed game to give him extra run in the offense. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Miami’s switching scheme benefiting personnel, Ariza on guards and Butler on bigs.

The switching scheme was a bit interesting to begin the season since there were many breakdowns occurring through Bam Adebayo’s switch, leading to a weaker defender being stuck on a big. But now that Miami has quite the list of versatile defenders, it makes Adebayo’s life a lot easier. For one, Trevor Ariza looks much more comfortable when defending opposing guards, which is perfect due to the amount of times he ends up seeing that match-up. Another interesting element to this switching is Jimmy Butler, since although nothing has changed, his ability to guard post players is shown time and time again. It also seems like Adebayo realizes that, since he’s even more willing to switch onto the perimeter when Butler’s involved in the PnR.

#2: Duncan Robinson is still firing, making slight adjustments.

The Duncan Robinson takeaway seems to be locked into this post-game piece now, since he’s shooting the three-ball the way that many have been awaiting for quite some time. The usual DHO and catch and shoot opportunities are still there, but another element was shown tonight, as well as a lot of the games lately. The one dribble side step on the perimeter is quite simple for the offensive player, but the complete opposite for the defensive player. The amount of gravity he holds on the three-point line is well known, which leads to constant fly-outs, leading to that side step eliminating them from the play. It’s once again about finding ways to get open shots for Robinson, and that is one simple way of doing so, while some more small changes should be on the way as well to truly maximize his ability.

#3: Coach Spo goes a different route with the rotation tonight, as well as lineups.

Due to Andre Iguodala being out, it was clear that the line of wings was a bit short tonight. So, Miami went to even more of the three guard lineups, mostly with Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Victor Oladipo. This lack of wings also led to Nemanja Bjelica getting some run next to Bam Adebayo, which is different since them being the two primary bigs means they’ve had to constantly be interchanged. Precious Achiuwa got some run as the relief guy, meaning he was the one who fulfilled the nine man rotation. Kendrick Nunn not getting inserted into that 9 man rotation was expected, but still an intriguing discussion to be had. He wasn’t going to get minutes over Dragic or Herro off the bench, but considering he was playing some pretty good basketball before being replaced, makes this conversation a bit different.

#4: Trevor Ariza finding his offensive fit, which begins with knocking down triples.

When discussing a guy who has continually been looked at as the 3 and D specialist, the three side of it hasn’t made many appearances, while the defense side has explicitly. But tonight, three-balls were falling, and that has a lot to do with him getting a few games under his belt, which means he’s beginning to find his offensive fit. Although knocking down catch and shoot threes is an important element, the spacing seems to be the bigger concern when first joining the team. Victor Oladipo is currently going through that at the moment, but Ariza seems to have passed that point now, generating the needed space when mentioning the 4 spot next to Adebayo.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s efficiency continues to fly under the radar, while shining in wins.

Bam Adebayo’s field goal stat category is the first stat observed after a loss, since his attempts are constantly harped on, but it seems like it never gets discussed following wins. He has consistently been a very efficient player, and he’s definitely not the traditional center who just takes shots at the basket. The mid-range pull-ups are becoming a natural occurrence, while he sprinkles in many different crafty ways to score. It’s clear that he is a very unselfish player who can rack up plenty of assists with the amount of offense that runs through him, but that level of efficient offense should not be taken for granted, since although Robinson threes or Butler drives are looked at as the focal point at times, the Adebayo scoring is actually the primary element.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Win Over Golden State

The Miami Heat extend their winning streak to 3 games on Thursday night against the Warriors. Victor Oladipo’s debut may not scream from the stat sheet, but this is the exact debut that the Miami Heat organization loves. Just lots of defensive impact, and resulting in a win. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: The initial Victor Oladipo observation.

Victor Oladipo made his debut tonight, and it’s clear that offense won’t be the initial takeaway. Pat Riley’s first conversation with him was about “defense, defense, and defense,” and there’s a reason for that. He wrecked havoc on the perimeter early on, mostly since he is capable of locking on an opponent without relying on a switch. This works both ways for Bam Adebayo as well, since he doesn’t feel that he must switch every screen. The offensive side of the ball for Oladipo was a bit passive early on, which is not surprising, since he’s trying to find his fit into this unique motion offense. Once he becomes comfortable after a few games, the offense will look a lot smoother with him as the ball-handler, while the defense can be plugged in at any time.

#2: Miami’s identity is clearly defense, but it might be scheme more than personnel. 

To further the discussion about defense, it’s not all about the addition of Oladipo. And honestly, it’s not all about the versatile personnel pieces including Butler, Adebayo, Ariza, and Iguodala. It’s mostly about the differing schemes, which becomes even more deadly when you are even average in individual man to man sets with Oladipo at the point of attack. The reason that scheme stuck out tonight was many plays where guys like Robinson and Herro would trap together on the baseline, forcing turnovers or transition offense. And although it’s very true that they’re improving from a team defense stance, the main element is that the Heat’s coaching staff is placing them in areas that they know they will thrive, or at least not get picked on. This team has a chance to be really special with the amount of weapons to swarm the perimeter, and that begins with the team’s young and versatile centerpiece, Bam Adebayo.

#3: Rotations become interesting, including Kendrick Nunn role and substitution timing.

It seems necessary to discuss the Heat’s rotation after tonight, since there were quite a few things that stuck out about it. For one, Goran Dragic being out meant the Kendrick Nunn situation wouldn’t be addressed at the moment, but I guess it was. Gabe Vincent got his name called before him even though he was cleared, but maybe he just didn’t feel 100% once the game started. The second part of this is Nemanja Bjelica getting the backup big minutes instead of Precious Achiuwa, which worked out pretty well due to Belly finding himself in the offense pretty quickly, while also spacing the floor. The last part of this includes the main guys, since Adebayo and Butler’s minutes have continually been staggered since it’s hard to survive stretches with both of them on the sideline. Although they’re capable of going to it more with Oladipo, it’s just never ideal since Adebayo’s game is not easily replicated, not only on this team, but in the entire league.

#4: It’s not about Duncan Robinson’s three point makes, but actually what comes next.

The recent talk involving Duncan Robinson has been strictly the shots he’s making, as well as the areas of growth that he is showcasing. That includes defensive instincts, a willingness to put the ball on the floor and attack, among other things. But when evaluating his jump-shot, it’s not so much about the three-point makes, as it is what comes next. One play in the first half stands out, when a possession following him making a three, led to two defenders flying high on him at the perimeter, as the ball found an open cutting Butler, which ended in an open Herro three. Those are the plays that are generated when his shots are dropping, and can ultimately impact Miami’s newest acquisition very heavily. I’ve discussed that gravity opening up the floor for an attacking Butler, since well, that was their only attacker. But surrounding Robinson with players who can penetrate may be the fix to the offensive roller coaster.

#5: Bam Adebayo continues to have flashes, especially late in games.

Enough defense has been discussed in this piece, which leads with Adebayo most of the time, but now it’s time to talk offense. Oladipo and Butler didn’t even have to be on the floor for a good amount of the fourth, since they trusted Adebayo to keep them afloat. Not only did he do that, but he gave them a major boost, sparking a run through his ball-handling abilities and active defensive hands to gain extra opportunities. This also refers back to the discussion about spreading the minutes between the three, since trusting Adebayo to lead lineups, and ultimately be aggressive when most needed in the fourth, changes a lot of things for this team in the big picture.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over Indiana

The Miami Heat got a much needed win against the Indiana Pacers, expanding their win streak to 2 games, gaining great momentum for Victor Oladipo’s debut tomorrow night. This game had its ups and downs like every other Miami Heat game, but the defensive side of the ball was quite impressive tonight. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic were the Heat’s offense early.

While I’ll dive into the negative aspect of Miami’s offense next, Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic were huge positives in their own ways. Robinson is back to his usual shooting ways, which means there is no more discussions about shots not falling, since the attempts are the main topic again. The only time it felt Miami was getting a good shot in the first half, was when Robinson was letting a three fly, which the efficiency numbers basically prove that to be true. Goran Dragic basically carried the offense as well after Robinson hit two threes to begin the game. It doesn’t take Dragic very long to get back into a rhythm, since it only took him one game to utilize his strong ability to get to the rim and kiss the ball off the glass.

#2: Shooting roller coaster continues for Miami.

The offensive observation tonight was more than the actual field goal percentage numbers, since the amount of time that nothing was generated truly stood out. Although Butler wasn’t his usual self early on, they missed him when he went to the sideline since it basically eliminates their drive and kick game, due to the lack of an attacking sidekick, who will make his debut tomorrow. The length of time that they couldn’t get a shot to drop, while settling for contested three point jumpers, basically sums up the overall takeaway of their offense that is displayed on every one of these takeaway pieces. Another way to look at the first half issues begins with their two stars, which I will dive into next, since when they aren’t clicking, it’s hard for others to do so as well.

#3: Trailing by 2 at the half, while Adebayo and Butler don’t have a made field goal, is…..interesting.

Usually it’s the complete opposite takeaway with the Miami Heat, since Adebayo and Butler step up when needed, but the counter parts aren’t able to capitalize on their strengths. But well, it was the complete opposite tonight, since Adebayo and Butler did not have a made field goal through the first 24 minutes of basketball. Now, there are a couple ways to look at this, since the positive outlook is that they only trailed by 2 although all of that occurred. It was also a good sign to see the role players step up at times to make certain pushes to at least keep them afloat. The negative outlook is that you’re two best players should probably have a field goal in a whole half, which turns the eyes back to that aggression. Myles Turner had a lot to do with that, since his paint presence may lead to decreasing Miami’s downhill abilities, but through long droughts, the reliance should be on the key guys, instead of awaiting for an Andre Iguodala or Trevor Ariza triple to drop.

#4: Butler’s third quarter defense changes the pace of the game.

Butler’s third quarter defensive impact was much more than the two early charges on Domantas Sabonis to give Miami extra offensive opportunities. Although he began to score well in the third as well, the amount of times that he deflected a pass or got a steal was just constant, as he wrecked havoc on that end of the floor. It’s aside from the numbers, since he also has a tendency to force players into bad shots or bad passes, due to his presence making ball-handlers uncomfortable. It’s not an easy task to change the pace of the game on the defensive end, especially when offense is stagnant, but Butler found a way to limit the Pacers’ scoring and created fast-break opportunities for the Heat.

#5: The Nemanja Bjelica role currently different than expected.

Nemanja Bjelica did not get minutes in the first half, and then checked in for a quick 5 minute stint in the third. Although there may not be a lot to observe from his game once again, since he still hasn’t attempted a shot up to this point, there are some initial things that have been noticed. For one, he does look a bit slow on the defensive end, as he flew out for three point contests, and was basically eliminated from the play completely. He hasn’t truly fit in with the Heat yet in his minutes, but that is expected due to the lack of major minutes so far. Trevor Ariza went through a similar process when first joining the team, except it’s pretty clear that Ariza doesn’t have any issues with getting his shots up. Bjelica may not be utilized in the expected role immediately, but it’s still early, so predictions shouldn’t be flying at the current stage.

Duncan Robinson’s Major Improvements Don’t Include Shooting

Duncan Robinson has been rolling post trade-deadline, which may tell you exactly why there were some struggles occurring recently. Since the trade deadline, he’s knocked down 14 triples over the course of three games, shooting 58% from beyond the arc.

Although his jumper is looking as good as ever, that’s not the approach I’m taking today when discussing Robinson. He had one of the best all-around games of the season against the New York Knicks on Monday night, mostly due to playing a bit looser than usual on both sides of the floor.

So, let’s get right into it, and dive into Robinson’s major improvements aside from shooting the basketball.

– Play-Making

This play begins with the usual off-ball screen for Robinson, then reversing back into a dribble hand-off to try and find an open look. The only difference is that he is given a wide open baseline, which looks to be open on most nights as teams overplay the three-point line.

So, that means he must make them pay for it, which he did here, as well as many times throughout the game. On this play, he forces the Knicks defense into a rotation scramble, leading to the dump-off to Jimmy Butler on a great cut to the basket, then the extra pass to Bam Adebayo for the dunk.

Although this play ended in a turnover for Miami, that is not the important element to this play. The main part is that Robinson may have recorded a career high in dribbles on this possession, while also making the right read.

He has been much more willing to flow into pick and rolls lately, which is one of the only elements that can truly open up his offensive abilities on the outside. He gets RJ Barrett on his hip on this play, since he’s not expecting a dive to the basket, while also getting Nerlens Noel in the air.

Other than the fumble on the pass, these play-making flashes were fluid throughout the night, which just simply benefits him in the long run.

The defense is expecting the usual pick and pop between Butler and Robinson here, especially since they cleared that side of the floor. Instead, he cuts hard to the basket as Butler hits him in stride, forcing Taj Gibson to step up for the contest.

Robinson makes the correct read once again to find the roaming Precious Achiuwa baseline for the slam. If Robinson can do these types of things consistently, it will allow Coach Spoelstra to get much more creative with the offense. The Heat’s offense wasn’t so dynamic last year just because of Robinson knocking down triples off of dribble hand-offs, but actually since they generated a creative element to their system.

And although teams have eliminated that creative set from their offense, it seems like another one is forming. Victor Oladipo may play a major role in that development, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it includes Robinson being utilized in more actions like this.

This is another one of those plays where the result of the play should not be the part that is harped on. I’ve dove into Robinson’s passing abilities from this game, which is also on display here with a great kick-out on a fast-break, but that isn’t the part that stands out.

They’re two minutes into the fourth quarter at this point, and Tyler Herro just scored 5 straight points for Miami, looking like he was really getting into a flow. So, Robinson not only read the floor, but also the situation, since finding a rolling Herro may not be the worst thing.


– Pocket Pass

The pocket pass from Robinson has been utilized for quite some time now, ever since defenders began to double out on him when he even grazed the ball on the perimeter.

But as seen on this play, that one pass gives Miami a total advantage any time it is utilized. It’s mostly used with Adebayo and Robinson, which I will show next, but the one involving Butler is intriguing as well. Two Knicks defenders are out of the play, leaving the decision making to the high IQ Butler.

He takes it in to get to the free throw line, but this also could’ve led to an open triple. There is one defender on the opposite side covering both Trevor Ariza on the wing and Herro in the corner, which means one kick-out would’ve led to an open three, all because of one bounce pass from Robinson.

Once again, the result isn’t the part that is being observed, since the Knicks actually did a pretty good job of recovering on this play, especially due to a few passes being fumbled across the possession.

But this is the normal Robinson/Adebayo action when running the pick and roll on the wing, since both defenders contain Robinson primarily once again. The reason the Adebayo pull-up jumper is constantly harped on, is because of moments like this, as Robinson hands Adebayo a wide open elbow jumper every time this is run.

This is yet another example of the ability to be even more creative with these actions, like Goran Dragic possibly clearing to the opposite side to give Adebayo enough room to work.

– Defense

Duncan Robinson and defense haven’t been linked together much, unless being addressed in a negative manner, but strides are definitely being made in that area.

Now, although I wasn’t going to dive into Robinson’s jumper here, it plays a major role in what came next. It’s a widely known thing that shots being made on one end lead to elevated defensive effort on the other end, even for below average defenders.

On this play, it was probably one of Robinson’s best sequences of the season, as he nails a three, deflects the ball for a steal, and passes it to Butler for a fast-break opportunity in a matter of 20 seconds. Although there may be some attributes that restrict him on the defensive end, length is definitely not one of them, and it’s something that he must utilize to his advantage on that side of the floor.

Here is one more instance of that offense to defense theory, since that made shot is the primary reason for what occurs next.

As he is being run all around the floor the entire possession, the last part when Reggie Bullock slips the screen for Julius Randle stands out. He shows himself to Randle, but somehow recovers on the pass to Bullock with an open lane, taking the right angle to perfectly cut him off.

The slight Ariza show on the block helped as well, but if Robinson didn’t recover, it would’ve led to an absolute breakdown for Miami on the defensive end.

Another interesting part about Robinson on defense has been the level of containment when guys have the ball in their hands, specifically shooters.

He cuts off Barrett on this play, forcing the kick-out to Bullock, and immediately forces him out of a catch and shoot opportunity without overplaying. These are the plays that weren’t happening a couple of months ago, which is why it’s so important to note.

This play also refers back to reading a situation, since Bullock is a player that you want to force to put the ball on the floor, since he thrives as a set shooter, which Miami learned very quickly in their first match-up against the Knicks back in February.

– The Small Things

When evaluating Robinson from this game, it was very clear that he does a lot of small things on the floor that may not be noticed in real time.

This was the perfect example, since as the other four Heat players on the court began to watch the ball fly off the rim, Robinson sprinted in for the tip-out, while preventing what would’ve been a put-back by Gibson. This is also another instance of utilizing his length to his advantage, since this probably wouldn’t have been possible if this wasn’t the case.

Some of the other small things throughout a game include a screen assist with the amount of off-ball screens that occur, which honestly seems to become much more apparent when shots are dropping. The actual points that are inserted on the score board from Robinson triples isn’t the most essential part, since it’s actually what follows it.

– Clearing up the bench trash talk

There isn’t much to dive into here from an analysis perspective, but it was clear that there was some talking toward that Knicks bench from not only Jimmy Butler throughout, but also Robinson as seen here.

So, here’s what he said about it when I asked him post-game, which you can see what he meant when discussing the occurrence of a corner three:

– Well, let’s take a look at one jump shot

The elements aside from shooting was the primary reason for this piece, but come on, a Duncan Robinson article can’t be complete without diving into at least one jumper.

If you don’t think the mental side of things majorly impact a shooter, you’re just wrong. Even when comments are being made about the sustained confidence and getting shots up, it’s still obvious when a shooter is thinking too much. And shots like this show that shooting without thinking is the best formula, since he just allows his natural motion to do all of the work.

The point is that the recent slump for Robinson was much more mental than it was physical, and if these improvements continue to be made in his areas of weakness, it’ll take this team to a completely different level, especially considering the insertion of Oladipo.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Knicks

The Miami Heat ended their 6 game losing streak with a win over the New York Knicks. It was a tale of two halves for Miami, after Jimmy Butler went into takeover mode in the second half. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Well, this is Miami’s offense at times.

The reality is that this is Miami’s offense at times. Dissecting different reasons for the offensive struggles game after game have become a constant thing this season, meaning this is who they are. The leading scorer after 12 minutes of basketball from both teams was Tyler Herro with 6 points, which furthers the point about the overall stagnant offensive play. The only difference is that the Knicks went on spark runs by some of their primary players, as well as turning defense into offense. Miami wasn’t as lucky to have those scoring spurts, and it may have nothing to do with luck. There were small flashes of Bam Adebayo takeover, which never really panned out in the first half, which I will dive into next, but it’s clear that a passive Jimmy Butler in games like this always leads to them playing from behind, which turned around in the second half.

#2: Bam Adebayo having his moments, showcasing just an incredibly unique skill.

Now, I mentioned the small positive flashes from Adebayo early on, and although the Heat scored 36 points in the half, it must be touched upon. For starters, he scored 8 points in that stretch on 4 for 5 shooting, which is a major part of this. Efficiency is clearly a great attribute, but not when it’s costing the team points. Andre Iguodala having the same amount of shot attempts in the first half as Adebayo reiterates that point even more. The reason that I wanted to touch on his unique skill, which is widely known, is because he shows glimpses of realization then reverts right back. Pull-up jumpers with a behind the back dribble occurring right before seems like a moment where that Brooklyn Nets-like game takeover is coming, but the following play leads to off-ball screens and kick-outs to Miami’s different wings. Adebayo utilizes guard moves throughout the game, which is the perfect description since it happens pretty effortlessly.

#3: Precious Achiuwa struggles again, turning eyes toward buyout market.

The continued discussion surrounding last minute pick-ups for Miami have included the addition of a back-up big for the Heat. The non-Adebayo minutes have become just as bad as the non-Butler minutes lately, since they don’t have that big man who can keep them afloat. Achiuwa had flashes early in the year, but his offensive limitations and undersized build allow him to get lost rather quickly. Although most of the guys that are currently in the buyout market get labeled as “past their prime,” that attribute may be more helpful for this team than an inexperience rookie. It’s obvious that Miami will make a move in that area pretty soon, but the consistent hole in that spot should speed that process up in the coming days for the Heat’s front office.

#4: The Jimmy Butler takeover.

As I mentioned before the game, as well as halftime, a Jimmy Butler takeover was necessary. When offense is stagnant like it was tonight, it’s important for him to search to attack, but it’s even more clear when all of the signs are pointing in that direction. Butler seemed to be locked in as soon as some back and forth occurred between him and the Knicks, both the players on the court and sideline. When he’s locked in like that, he’s a hard man to stop, since it’s obvious that he is more than capable to score at the basket whenever he chooses. So, he did just that in the third quarter, turning a 36 point first half into a 39 point third quarter. And although the points he scored will be harped on, the intensity and energy that he brought changed the game for Miami.

#5: Duncan Robinson with one of his best all-around performances.

Duncan Robinson hit some nice shots on the outside, which may have sparked him moving forward, but that’s not what I want to discuss. The part that must be mentioned is that this game may be one of Robinson’s best all-around games of the season. For starters, he put the ball on the deck at an exceptional rate, which led to some very impressive passes. When defenses continue to fly out at him, that element will be essential, and adding the dump-off on the move to the cutter takes it to another level. The second part of tonight’s game for him was on the defensive end, which could’ve been one of his better defensive games of his career. Not only some big steals and deflections to get Miami into transition, but he also stayed in front of his guy individually much better than usual. This type of performance is all he needed to get back to normal, so we will see how this progresses.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to the Grizzlies

The Miami Heat fell short to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, after a Ja Morant layup to take the lead with 1 second left on the clock. Miami’s offensive issues throughout were clear, which was why it was odd that they even found themselves in this game late. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Max Strus gives Miami a first half push.

Well, I didn’t really expect Max Strus to be the first takeaway on this article tonight but here we are. One thing that must be noted is the level of difficulty to be unexpectedly thrown into the fire time and time again, and producing immediately. This has a lot to do with the team harping on guys always staying ready, since you never know when your name will be called. Although his first three-point shot of the night dropped, it was actually the off-ball cutting that was a main source of offense. Obviously that’s just a part of Miami’s offensive scheme, which occurs even more once the defense respected that first three-point make, but it’s still impressive to see him reading a defense with his limited minutes at the NBA level.

#2: The offensive need for an off the dribble scorer with bench unit.

When Max Strus is the highlight of the bench unit early, it’s clear Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic aren’t capitalizing on their scoring role. Forget their usual pick and roll mid-ranges or catch and shoot threes, they were just clearly missing a scoring guard to get a bucket off the dribble, especially during those non-Butler stretches. Neither of them are incredible attacking threats, since they usually control with their jumper early, but that was a main reason offensive issues were fluid throughout. While Dragic may look a step too slow at times as a primary scoring option, the eyes immediately turn toward Herro, who majorly needs to take that initiative during those moments, which also comes down to reading the situation.


#3: A noticed change in Duncan Robinson’s usual offensive abilities.

Duncan Robinson got hot early in the first quarter, then cooled off a bit the remainder of the half. But instead of evaluating makes and misses, the part before the actual jumper is more important for Robinson than anything. He’s used to immediately firing when coming off a DHO or drive and kick, but they’ve had to go away from that a bit more due to the way defenses have been guarding him. This leads us to the noticed change, which is a sense of patience when receiving the ball. The scouting report on Robinson never really includes that slight hesitance before the jumper, which can pause the defender as he gets into his shooting motion. Another aspect is the pick and roll sets he has been forced to utilize a bit more, since it’s an action he can find shots that appear to be open a bit more often. Once some additions are made to his offensive game, then shots actually dropping won’t ever be the part being observed.

#4: A rough third quarter with Jimmy Butler out there alone.

More offensive issues occurred in the third quarter for Miami, which looked even worse than earlier. Miami scored 16 points in the quarter, while Jimmy Butler scored 10 of them. He brought the needed intensity through the game, yelling after every single bucket or foul that he got. The jumper looked good for Butler throughout, which led to him getting to the mid-range in the third. And as I mentioned his supporting cast not able to get into a flow, he went away from drive and kicks, and just utilized drives. And well, most of those end up in a layup or two free throws due to his aggression and strength. This once again circles back to that need for an on-ball offensive threat, which although the newest member of the Heat won’t be able to alter completely, there are some things he can possibly touch up which I’ll discuss next.

#5: The area Trevor Ariza could possibly fix for Miami.

To reiterate the lack of penetration when Butler isn’t on the floor, there’s a chance Trevor Ariza could fix that a bit. Although he’s mostly known as a 3 and D guy, he can bring the element of attack if he’s fully healthy. Obviously we can’t truly evaluate him until he actually plays some games with this team after missing a year, but that ability is the one thing that Andre Iguodala doesn’t currently have. Iguodala usually finds himself in the corner, leading into off-ball screens which is highly effective, but when he’s sharing the floor with Dragic, Herro, and Robinson, they need that guy who can drive to the basket consistently. Once again, there’s a very good possibility Ariza won’t be able to do that consistently, but the level of athleticism that is remembered can be utilized.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cavaliers

The Miami Heat expanded their win streak to 5 in a row with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bam Adebayo returned, while Jimmy Butler still dominated to lead Miami throughout. And now, they will be playing yet again in less than 24 hours on this back to back. Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game. Well, four takeaways from this game and a trade possibility….

#1: Sprinkling in extra defensive schemes, including traps, zone, and the press.

I’ve done a lot of breakdowns on Miami’s defense over this past winning stretch, mostly since it’s really been an intriguing aspect. Not just because they’re playing solid defense and landing number one in defensive rating over the last stretch, but because of the way in which they are doing it. Forget about individual defenders, since they continued this without Bam Adebayo, utilizing not so great individual defenders in a team scheme. In tonight’s game, Miami really went hard on high traps out of the pick and roll, forcing Cleveland to make that extra pass. Now, at times it may not have looked as effective as it could be, since shots were clanking off the rim right to Cleveland’s lengthy bigs, leading to their offensive rebounds and paint points. But these continued altering schemes will be crucial against good teams, especially when the offense isn’t clicking.

#2: Duncan Robinson benefiting from offensive cutting.

The off-ball cutting has been yet another aspect that I’ve dove into quite frequently, but it must be discussed once again. I’ve mentioned the team benefiting from these actions nightly, but there were some individual benefits tonight. For starters, the first play of the game was a Duncan Robinson back-door cut for an easy layup, which led to extra spacing on the three following the early timeout. They got some favorable switches in the first quarter, which led to Robinson being patient when receiving the ball, forcing the opposing big to make a decision. Another thing this led to for Robinson was a pick and roll flow. It’s been clear that some PnR sets will fully maximize his offensive abilities with Adebayo, which is exactly what he did throughout, but didn’t shine as bright due to constant turnovers in the first half.

#3: KZ Okpala over Precious Achiuwa once again.

KZ Okpala got his name called off the bench for Miami tonight, which shouldn’t be surprising since Precious Achiuwa found himself behind Chris Silva with Adebayo out. Okpala gave Miami a pretty impressive defensive game yet again, while still trying to find himself on the offensive side of the ball. But the interesting part about this topic is Achiuwa not being utilized in this game specifically, due to the Cavaliers bigs dominating against Miami’s small lineups. This doesn’t mean he should be playing over somebody in particular, but it does seem like the type of game where you expand to a 10 man rotation, especially to preserve some guys for this back to back. The counter to that point would be maximizing speed for their advanced defensive scheme with trapping and intense zone play, but it’s still a bit odd that some trust in Achiuwa has faded away slightly.

#4: A short Andre Iguodala stint early was one of his best first half spurts of season.

When comparing Andre Iguodala’s early spurt to others throughout the season, it’s important to note that this was the best first half stretch he’s had this far. The reason for that is because he’s had some very important moments down the stretch this season that shouldn’t be overlooked. But tonight’s was so impressive due to the impact on both ends of the floor. He knocked down both of his three point attempts, while immediately sinking back into a 2-2-1 press, then down to a half-court 2-3 zone. Once again, Miami winning by a good amount allowed Iguodala to watch from the sideline mostly, since they will be playing in 24 hours against the Memphis Grizzlies. These Iggy flashes are the moments that will truly come up big in a playoff game, which is why I’m mentioning this.

#5: A Trevor Ariza addition to this two-way Heat team?

Although tonight’s match-up may not make you think another small 4 is necessary, due to Cleveland’s centers dominating the boards and paint throughout, it just expands the way Miami likes to play at the current stage. Kevin O’Connor reported the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are in discussions, which would send Trevor Ariza to Miami. Now, some may evaluate him as a guy past his time of impact, but this would just sound so similar to the trade of last year to add some wings for the post-season. Another two-way guy, who Erik Spoelstra would love, since he’s the type of player he can “plug and play” in many spots. As I’ve mentioned many times, sometimes a tiny spark is more important than the player you’re attaining, especially in a situation where you’re not giving up assets of value. Although KZ Okpala may not love this move after finally finding a spot in the rotation, it’s the perfect move when evaluating a low risk, high reward trade for the post-season, who wouldn’t have a huge role to fill.