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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Rockets

The Miami Heat got a very impressive win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night to begin the road trip. It wasn’t pretty, since they struggled in the first half, and had trouble closing it out late in the fourth, but a win is a win at this point. Anyway, here are five takeaways….

#1: Well, Miami clearly loves the three point line.

Instead of going through different Miami Heat issues once again, let’s just take a look at one: shot-making. After three triples from Duncan Robinson to begin the game, Miami went cold. Real cold. And the only way to overcome tough shooting stretches is to get to the basket, but only Jimmy Butler seemed to realize that, and it even took him some time to do. They were 9 for 25 from beyond the arc in the first half, which proved the continued mindset to chuck up threes throughout. Kendrick Nunn, who I will discuss later, began to realize the need to attack the basket during these stretches. The most important part of the game for Miami was to survive the non-Butler minutes, and they did somehow hold it to a single digit game. And of course, the penetration resumed upon him entering.

#2: Jimmy Butler, the continued glue through tough patches.

Now, if there was phrase to describe Miami’s first half, it would be a tough patch. And there’s not a better player to have on your team to overcome tough stretches than Jimmy Butler. His continued ability to control the pace of the game, even when trailing, kept Miami in the game early on. On a night where Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro were out, it was known Butler would have even more on his plate, especially with the way Bam Adebayo was getting fronted. The point is that he can glue together certain units, even when they include guys who would probably be in the G-League right now in a normal season. It’s not just about getting to the free throw line 7 times in the first half, but the amount of times he got players open shots throughout. But as explained before, those shots just weren’t falling early on.

#3: Kendrick Nunn still finding himself as a player.

It’s clear that Kendrick Nunn is still finding himself as a player, since there are certain parts of his offensive game that are still growing. He’s shown to be an improving catch and shoot guy over the past few guys, but that definitely wasn’t the case tonight. But the important part about this game was seeing how he reacts to the continued offensive struggles. This led to him finding other ways to impact the game in the second quarter, such as being active on the glass, cutting off the ball for easy layups, and most importantly, taking guys off the dribble. This is the type of game where a player like him can find a real breakthrough. He’s only in his second NBA season, and has yet to figure himself out as a player. But when that day comes, it will lead to overall consistency, which is the one thing that has some questions at this point in his career.

#4: A Duncan Robinson shooting bounce back.

The reason I labeled this Duncan Robinson game as a shooting bounce back, is because through his past “struggles,” he’s been elite in every other usual part of his game. Offensive gravity, off-ball screen setting, perimeter movement. The only difference is that the shots were actually falling tonight, which as I explained after last game, wasn’t going to be long. As mentioned earlier, he knocked down three triples to begin the game to score Miami’s first 9 points. He continued that into the second half as well, since he hit some big shots to slowly expand the lead in the third quarter. And Coach Spo may have found something interesting, after he inserted Max Strus in with Robinson, and the lineup was very effective. The recent perception of Robinson has been a bit different as of late, but as he continues to adjust to the different coverages being thrown at him every night, he will begin to thrive as much as ever.

#5: A four game winning streak, a win to begin the road trip, and great momentum as players will begin to return.

Well, this Miami Heat win may not have been pretty, but it holds more value than you may think. It’s the longest winning streak of the season for Miami, and it came at a necessary time, since it’s the first game of Miami’s tough West Coast road trip. But that aside, they scrapped their way through a game without Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro, which put even more weight on the starters. The key is that they’re beginning to find themselves as a team, or as the players like to say, they’re beginning to play for one another. Erik Spoelstra always discusses the need to find a true identity, and the current identity seems to be no matter the numbers on the scoreboard, it’s going to be a game that they’re going to battle and scrap their way through. And when the leading dog on the team is Jimmy Butler, that identity matches up perfectly.

How is Duncan Robinson Being Defended?

Duncan Robinson is probably the most misunderstood player on this Miami Heat team. Even after struggling for this long stretch, there still isn’t much of a drop-off in his usual three point numbers. He went from making 3.7 triples a game on 8.3 attempts last season, to making 3.3 triples a game on 8.3 attempts this season.

Robinson may be looked at as a one-dimensional three point specialist, but there are some things that aren’t seen in the natural flow of the game off the ball. So, here’s a look into how Robinson is being defended lately, and the impact he has even when the shot isn’t falling.

– Non-stop off-ball screening

As Mitchell Robinson began to drop back on the driving Jimmy Butler, Robinson set him a hard screen to allow Butler to get to the cup and draw the foul. This is something I will point to a few times throughout this piece, since it’s one of his most underrated attributes.

When he sets a screen, it rattles a defense a bit since he’s a threat to pop out to the perimeter for a three pointer. This then allows Miami’s two stars, Butler and Bam Adebayo, to do what they do best, which is get to the rim and draw fouls.

– “Good looks” for Robinson aren’t “good looks” for many

The idea that many of his shots are “good looks” seems to be a bit confusing. The reason a lot of them seem this way is because his elite abilities to shoot over the top of people make it seem pretty easy.

But the truth is, these shots are far from being easy shots. He has a 6’8 Julius Randle contesting his shot in the best way possible, leading to a missed triple.

Once again, the 6’10 Nerlens Noel stays on Robinson off the Adebayo dribbe hand-off, leading to a smother three at the end of the shot clock. And although I used words like contested and smothered in these two plays, both shots had a chance at going in, which makes the overall shooting impact so interesting.

There were two shots in the fourth quarter that were actual “good looks” and didn’t fall, but the last thing you should be worried about is Robinson making wide open triples.

– The Butler- Robinson drive and kicks are essential for Miami’s flow

At this point in the game, Miami’s only offense was Butler getting to the free throw line. And the way he was getting to the charity stripe was by charging toward the basket right into defenders.

The defense was clearly waiting for this to occur again, which led to Elfrid Payton turning his head to look toward the driving Butler, which is something a defender never does when guarding Robinson. Although he missed the shot, these drive and kick moments prove to be most effective when Butler has it going when attacking the basket.

And as mentioned previously, those shots won’t be missing for long.

– More screen-setting impact

Giving Adebayo just enough room to put the ball on the deck and get to the basket is exactly what Miami wants. But when you realize who is usually giving him those opportunities, it’s Robinson.

The dribble hand-off sets are clearly beneficial to Adebayo when two defenders fly high on him, but even normal pick and pops grant him that room. If Adebayo didn’t lose control on this possession, it would have led to a wide open Robinson three, and it would have been generated by his own involvement off the ball.

– Finding other ways to get shots for Robinson

On this play, Robinson slips off the screen for Tyler Herro at the end of the first quarter, and slowly slides to the corner. As Adebayo comes up to set the screen, he just chose the wrong guy to pick. If he set the screen on Derrick Rose who was guarding Robinson, he would’ve had a wide open three in the corner.

The reason I bring this up is because there needs to be a bit more diversity at times with offensive sets for Robinson. He’s being figured out in a way because the same things are being run on basically every possession. The dribble hand-off between Robinson and Adebayo was so effective before since it was sprinkled in unpredictably, so they need to find that offensive upper-hand once again.

– Giving Miami many options

Here’s another example of Robinson being utilized in these offensive sets. He sets a pick to allow Adebayo to get the ball on the baseline, then immediately screens for Andre Iguodala as he cuts back door. Adebayo then has the option to hit him in stride, or immediately go into a DHO with Robinson in the corner.

If Obi Toppin didn’t foul Iguodala, it would have led to a layup, which further showcases the different things Robinson does for a free flowing offense.

– A main attribute that must be added

There have been some things that I have discussed involving ways to improve Robinson’s effectiveness, such as a one-dribble pull-up, but it’s time to look at ways to evolve his catch and shoot game in particular.

And there’s one thing that can do that: A pump-fake to catch defenders in the air to draw the foul. Foul calls and Robinson don’t really seem to go hand in hand, but that’s just in the normal shooting motion. Defenders constantly overplay and swarm him, which means that pump-fake can definitely get them out of position.

He uses the pump-fake a lot, but usually follows it with a side-step into a shot. But instead of avoiding the defensive aggression, he must embrace it, and once he begins to draw those fouls, it will give him much more room to operate on the perimeter.

– A natural feel for spacing and cutting

Robinson is once again being denied as he runs around the floor, but what he does next must be noted. He has a very good feel for spacing and timing, which is showcased on this very play.

As Iguodala drives baseline, he notices that he’s about to get stuck in the air, which leads to him instinctively cutting to the basket. And due to the many Knicks players in the area, he dumps it off to Adebayo for an easy layup.

These types of plays prove that comments involving him not making shots means he’s useless are just absolutely untrue.

Jimmy Butler Returns, Duncan Robinson Rises

This two game stretch against Brooklyn gave Duncan Robinson a sighting that he’s never seen before: A shooting slump.

At times, it didn’t seem like it was genuinely possible to have a shooting slump, since if he’s open, he hits it, and if he’s getting blanketed, he opens up the floor for others.

It’s pretty clear that this wouldn’t last very long in any circumstance, but especially since Jimmy Butler is set to return this week.

The Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson connection is always harped on, and rightfully so since that dribble hand-off is one of the most deadly offensive sets. But ultimately, Jimmy Butler impacts the game for Duncan more than anybody on the floor.

The reason is that both of them represent that offensive gravity in two opposite ways. Robinson out on the perimeter since a team can’t ever leave him open, and Butler around the rim since defenders collapse when he attacks the basket.

Once Jimmy Butler returns this week, you’ll begin to see more and more opportunities for Duncan begin to open up. And I think everybody’s confident that the shots will then begin to fall.

The stats prove this to be true as well, since when Duncan and Jimmy share the floor, it’s a top 3 duo in points, field goal %, assists, and more. Even though it’ll take time for Jimmy Butler to get back into a regular scoring role, his impact will be on display upon arrival, which is the moment everything changes for this team.

One thing I’ve mentioned about this team without Jimmy is that there’s a mutual theme. This team has enough heart to battle every single night while being shorthanded, but not having their closer ultimately means that the team comes out with a loss.

This translates to Duncan Robinson’s fourth quarter struggles as of late. This is the first time in his career that not only is he at the top of scouting reports, but also looked upon to lead Miami to victory at the end of the game. Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro were the usual go to guys in those situations, while Duncan can hit a three here or there when necessary.

But now, everybody knows who the ball is going to when Miami needs a triple to get back into it.

We learned a lot about every single player on this team over this shorthanded stretch. And although Bam Adebayo’s breakout is headlining it, my point about Jimmy’s impact on Duncan has proved to be a true statement.

If Miami can become whole this week, everything should return normal. But the only thing that should stay the same is Miami’s new number one offensive option, Bam Adebayo.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Raptors

The Miami Heat played the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Avery Bradley once again, and came away with a very impressive win. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Well, Kendrick Nunn is officially back.

The story of the night for the Miami Heat was Kendrick Nunn. With Goran Dragic and Gabe Vincent starting tonight, Kendrick was the only guard off the bench, so it was clear he’d get a good amount of minutes. But the questions were about how he’d perform in those minutes. And well, he looked like rookie of the year candidate Kendrick Nunn. He scored 16 points in the first half, going 6-8 from the field, scoring from the outside, off the dribble, off cuts, and more. The overall reason for this though was confidence. His body language was just very different throughout the game tonight, and that’s when he performs at his best.

#2: Duncan Robinson’s impressive three-point shooting and three-point efficiency.

If Kendrick didn’t have this unexpected comeback game, Duncan Robinson would probably be the primary story. He hit 4 first quarter threes on 4 attempts, and I don’t know which number is more impressive. His efficiency continues to be a huge part of his game, which is clearly a great thing, but it seems like his attempt numbers matter more than the percentage, especially without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. After that first quarter shooting display, he didn’t attempt a three in the second quarter. This team needs Duncan to get as many shots up as possible, since as seen tonight, it opens everything up for others. His game looks to be evolving game by game with his increased role, which we will most likely look back at this stretch down the line as the moment Duncan took the leap.

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#3: Miami’s big man defensive versatility continues to impress.

I think this takeaway goes without saying, but it truly needs to be noted after seeing the match-ups with Toronto. Bam Adebayo being able to switch onto a guard out on the perimeter is clearly impactful for this team, but seeing Precious Achiuwa enter doing the same thing makes it stand out. The Raptors strength is their guard play and the Heat’s weakness is their guard defense, but it doesn’t look as problematic when the bigs switch out without hesitation to lock them up on the perimeter. It doesn’t make this issue any better, but it does highlight that ability on a nightly basis. There’s never a dull moment with Miami’s interchanging energetic big men, since even though they don’t play together, they clearly bounce off each other.

#4: Kelly Olynyk doing the small things.

It didn’t seem like Kelly Olynyk would be in tonight’s takeaway piece, but the stat-sheet solidified it. He scored the ball pretty well tonight, but truly stood out in the other areas. He rebounded the ball well and dished out plenty of assists, which is needed with Jimmy Butler out. He played in plenty of lineups with Precious Achiuwa, which meant he was needed to be the facilitator. He’s also great at making the skip pass to an open man, although it sometimes leads to unnecessary turnovers. Kelly Olynyk seems to be forming into a great fit with the starting lineup, especially since it gives Bam his space to work in the mid-range area.

#5: Miami handles a guard heavy Raptors team without their top guard defenders.

Now, the overall evaluation from the night is actually the guys that Miami was missing. Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley being out makes you wonder about the perimeter defense on any given night, but especially when facing a Toronto team with Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Miami’s guards defending them were Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson, and Gabe Vincent, who actually defended quite well during his minutes tonight. The point is that it’s a great sign for Miami to win a game in that department, no matter if Toronto has been struggling or not. This win is clearly a confidence booster, but they will need to do it for another 48 minutes in 48 hours.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over Pistons

The Miami Heat faced off against the Detroit Pistons once again, and came away with a much needed win. They struggled again early, but battled back without Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler once again. Anyway, here are five takeaways…

#1: Precious Achiuwa the energizer, Precious Achiuwa the leader.

The player that stood out from the moment he checked in tonight was rookie Precious Achiuwa. It seems as if I discuss him in every one of these takeaway pieces, and that’s because he stands out in a certain area every night. Tonight, he showed his leadership abilities, while only being 11 games into his NBA career. When Miami began to trail big time early in the first quarter, Precious shared the floor with Kendrick Nunn, Gabe Vincent, and Moe Harkless, and Achiuwa seemed to become the voice on the floor. Communicating after plays to get the team energized, and he did just that. In both of Miami’s first half runs, Precious was on the floor, and it wasn’t a coincidence. He’s another one of those high impact players that Miami loves, and he continues to improve in all areas of his game.

#2: Kendrick Nunn gives quality offensive minutes.

Well, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Avery Bradley being out means major openings at the guard position. And even though many aren’t high on Kendrick Nunn at the moment, Coach Erik Spoelstra shows to have the utmost confidence. Kendrick did exactly what was needed from him, which was to score the basketball. He looked to have confidence in his jump-shot, and it’s great to see him showing these flashes. Now, he still may not look like rookie Kendrick Nunn, but it surely was a step up from his production to begin the year. Miami needed offensively sounded players to step up tonight without their primary scorers, and he played his role.

#3: Rebounding continues to look like the biggest Miami issue.

I’ve gone through a bunch of Miami’s issues including turnovers, lack of shot attempts, and others, but none stand out like the lack of rebounding. Obviously Detroit is a big team, but this is an ongoing thing that occurs nightly. The Pistons continued to dominate the offensive boards, which once again translates to more shot attempts. If Miami could’ve cut those offensive rebounds in half, they would’ve controlled the game with ease, but clearly that’s not the case. As many people harp on different additions that can be made to this team, a guy that can be plugged in the front-court looks to be the team’s biggest need. Many times throughout the game, Bam is the sole big on the floor, and when he flies out to the perimeter on a close-out, it leads to an easy put-back. He needs help on the glass, and it doesn’t look to be on the roster, unless Spo decides to pair him up with Precious Achiuwa.

#4: Duncan Robinson shoots Miami through this game.

Duncan Robinson looked like the same old Duncan Robinson, but in a game where Miami trailed for most of it, it’s necessary to highlight it. Miami needed a source of offense with Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro out, and Duncan gave them a huge boost after connecting on the usual dribble hand-off threes. Although his stats don’t scream off the stat sheet tremendously, it had more to do with the timing of his scores. He was the reason for Miami’s two big offensive runs in the first half. The reason he is the biggest threat when Miami begins to get momentum on a run is because he’s much better in a quick flow. When Miami begins to run and build a rhythm, Duncan becomes more and more effective as a scorer.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s scoring aggressiveness seems to come out with a Miami lead.

The big discussion throughout tonight’s game with Bam Adebayo was about him taking initiative. When Miami needed a burst of offense when trailing, he continued to facilitate and get others going. There were many moments throughout where Bam looked to have clear opportunities to try and score, but decided to defer. But once Miami got a decent lead in the second half, his offense began to be seen. Now, that could be a type of confidence that he can play free with the ball in his hands due to the game situation, but it clearly worked. This starts to make Heat fans wonder why this isn’t seen more often. He began to hit the mid-range jumper consistently, but as I’ve mentioned many times, I believe it’s more important to see him put the ball on the floor and attack.

A Breakdown of Miami’s Second Half Struggles Vs Detroit

The Miami Heat had a rough night against the Detroit Pistons on both sides of the floor. Although they were without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, some things consistently look problematic.

Here are some video breakdowns referring to the collapse in the second half…

– Defensive Awareness

At the beginning of the third quarter, Bam Adebayo and KZ Okpala continued to wreck havoc on their switches in the pick and roll. On this play, they look to do that again, as Kelly Olynyk slides over to cut off Jerami Grant on the drive. Instead though, that cut off was not needed, since Bam would’ve had the angle regardless. That led to an open corner three for Blake Griffin on the wing. The reason awareness plays a part is because Grant had it going at this point and Griffin had not shot the ball well, so it made sense to cut him off. But when it’s KZ and Bam on the perimeter, it’s necessary to just worry about your guy off the ball.

– Duncan Denial

When I discuss Duncan Robinson’s gravity, this is part of the reason. There is constant denial as he runs around the perimeter, and when he gets the ball, he has zero room to get a shot off. This was great for Detroit to do, especially at this point in the game since the offense was choppy from everyone on the floor. When this begins to happen, it usually allows guys like Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro to benefit, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Goran Dragic usually benefits from these spurts as well, but he did not have it going at all.

– Stagnant Offense Turns Into Forced Offense

 

As mentioned previously, the offense was clearly stagnant at this point, where Miami couldn’t get into their usual efficient offensive sets. To that point, Goran and Bam run a quick pick and roll, while Dragic forces a lob pass over the top just inside the free throw line, leading to a turnover. Usually when Miami’s turnovers begin to kick in, Goran is the one to settle them down. But that wasn’t the case yesterday, and it was even more necessary with Tyler and Jimmy out. The clear issue has been turnovers, since it leads to easy baskets, and less shot attempts.

– Turnovers to Points

After the careless Goran Dragic lob showed previously, Jerami Grant runs the break. Miami is clearly out of sorts in their transition defense, and it leads to Miami basically giving up on the play at the end of the possession. Bam runs into the picture late, and ends up standing out on the perimeter. And that’s the reason for poor defensive possessions: Standing around. As Bam explained after the game, that’s not Miami Heat defense. Some stuff is obviously schematic, but most of it seems to be about actually take pride on that end of the floor. And Miami hasn’t been doing that.

– Poor Spacing Leads to Poor Shots

Miami’s spacing on these possessions toward the end of the third quarter were non-existent, especially since Bam and Duncan were on the sideline. Andre looks to give Goran a dribble hand-off, but Goran pops out instead while Precious sets a screen. This causes three defenders piled up in one spot on the floor. But the worst part is that it led to an Andre Iguodala three with 13 seconds left on the shot clock. It almost seemed as if Miami gave up on a lot of possessions when things didn’t go their way.

– No Initiative 

Now, the biggest thing that stood out from Miami’s offense last night was the expectation level from many players on the team. They were waiting for somebody to take initiative and create offense, but nobody chose to do so. That resulted in many empty possessions like the Iguodala three showed before. I don’t want to continually harp on the players they were missing, but Jimmy and Tyler help tremendously with taking initiative with the ball in their hands. When nobody takes initiative, over-passing begins to occur, and that leads right back to the turnover issue.

– Poor Defensive Execution

The game was over at this point in the fourth quarter, but these are the type of defensive breakdowns that continued to occur from Miami throughout. KZ Okpala didn’t make a quick enough decision to go out and double team or stay on his man, which meant the passer has the ability to find the open man. Goran slides down to the big, while his man cuts to the basket for an easy bucket. It just doesn’t seem to be one issue on that end of the floor. With some players it’s decision making, while others may need a bit more “heart” as Bam Adebayo said post-game.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Loss to Detroit

The Miami Heat faced the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, which was a game that the Heat were expected to win, even without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Although Miami led at the half, the Pistons exploded in the second half to beat Miami. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: KZ Okpala is unleashed early on.

Well, KZ Okpala got the start tonight, and it went as great as any Heat fan may have hoped. He scored 10 first quarter points in demanding fashion. The three point shot looked good, he was active on the offensive boards, and looked great off the dribble. His confidence with the ball in his hands stood out, which had to be something the coaching staff discussed with him heading into the game. He’s a player that needs to play with self confidence on offense, since he has everything in there, but it just needs to be put together. He was also all over the place defensively, constantly moving but showed to be impressive with one-on-one assignments. Once Miami gets their entire team healthy, that second unit may include KZ Okpala moving forward.

#2: Turnovers still impacting this team negatively.

Thirteen first half turnovers definitely weren’t ideal, with most coming throughout the first quarter. They were spread out pretty evenly across the team, and I feel they had more to do with forcing passes than carelessness. It usually happens out on the perimeter, when a guy picks up their dribble and they try to find their primary ball handler. These issues cause Miami to have less shot attempts, which is the last thing you would want on this team. They shot 59% from the field in the first half, and only led by 4 against the Detroit Pistons. Once those issues begin to be leveled, everything else will begin to fall in place.

#3: Bam Adebayo looks impressive offensively in the first half.

Bam Adebayo scoring 18 first half points after missing some time with Covid protocols is pretty impressive. He was 6 for 7 from the field, and 6 for 6 from the free throw line. Not only is a scoring Bam Adebayo great to see, but an efficient Bam Adebayo was even better. The jumper looked as good as it’s ever been, which many will point to his and-1 baseline jumper before the halftime buzzer. As many have alluded to in the past, he has an elite offensive ability in his package. It just comes down to when he decides to use it. And on a night where Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro were out, it showed great awareness on his part to step up, but obviously it wasn’t enough.

#4: Bad looking third quarter shines light on other Miami Heat players.

It got to a point in the third quarter where Miami just didn’t look good on either end of the floor. There are obviously defensive holes on this team, but the offensive struggles were the real issue in the third. Miami had terrible spacing, and just couldn’t get anything going. And well, that all transpired as Bam Adebayo took a breather on the sideline. Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro not playing also contributes to the struggle on that end, but you’d think lineups with Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson could spark something. It obviously has a lot to do with Miami just having an off night offensively, but it also shades light on Miami’s main staples. Jimmy Butler is clearly needed, but more importantly it isn’t sustainable to have Bam off the floor when Jimmy’s out.

#5: Duncan Robinson shot attempts must increase, especially in spots where offense is choppy.

If there was any takeaway from this game, it would have to be the shot attempts from Duncan Robinson. Although the stat line may not make you think he needs to get more up, it was clearly necessary in the game flow. Obviously he’s getting absolutely blanketed at every moment of the game, but a contested Duncan three holds more value than many player’s open threes. There always seems to be spots in the game where you think to yourself, where is Duncan Robinson? His gravity alone should continually be harped on, since it is important, but it doesn’t hold as much value when the entire offense can’t get going. I’ve discussed Duncan expanding his game a bit more, but I believe it’s more about increasing the volume of his own strength.

A Breakdown of Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent

Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent are two interesting players to look at following the two match-ups against the Philadelphia 76ers. Duncan had an increased role in the offense, since he was forced to put the ball on the floor more than usual. And Gabe just had a huge increase in playing time, and it allowed him to showcase his overall game.

Here’s a look at the parts of their game that shined…

Duncan Robinson:

– One Dribble Pull-Up

Now, this is the one attribute in Duncan Robinson’s game that I’ve been discussing since the beginning of the off-season. It’s known that Duncan is on the top of scouting reports now, which leads to defenses chasing him off the three. But to open up the perimeter for him, the mid-range will need to be utilized. It doesn’t need to be a huge change though, as seen here, a one dribble pull-up seems to be in his offensive package. And that one move can change his entire game.

– Confident Attacker

Duncan doesn’t get associated with the word attacker much, but it was needed in a game with no Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. On this play, Robinson gave a quick jab step and attacked right off the dribble. Dwight Howard came down to help, but Duncan gave a quick scoop layup with the off-hand. He may not take others off the dribble much, but he seems to be creative at the basket when he does.

– Creative Play-Making off the Drive

After Duncan got to the basket a few times, as seen in the last clip, it causes the defense to collapse down low. On this play, three Philly defenders crash once Duncan gets to the basket, and he seems to get caught in the air. He then has to make a quick decision to pass the ball to the corner or the wing, since there was only one defender on the perimeter. Robinson looked at the corner which caused Mike Scott to drop down, and he threw it out to an open Kelly Olynyk for a three.

– Great Feel Leads to Separation 

Once again, Duncan doesn’t get discussed from these perspectives on offense due to his elite shooting, but it needs to be acknowledged. Here, Duncan comes off of a curl to cause a 2 on 1 with Precious Achiuwa. He has Danny Green right on his hip, which is exactly where he wants him. He sees Joel Embiid on his heels, so it’s obvious he’s taking the shot. But instead of shooting it as a jumper, with the chance of it getting blocker since Green is on his left, he puts up a one-hand floater. This mirrors his overall offensive feel in spots other than the catch and shoot.

Gabe Vincent:

– Pull-Up Three in Transition

This attribute of Gabe Vincent can be displayed all day due to the amount of times he shoots on the move in transition. As seen here, he is very comfortable when shooting a pull-up three, mostly since he can shoot over the top of people, even at 6’3. This was an example of the catch and shoot, but he also pulls up in transition off the dribble. This is very hard for a defense to maintain, especially since he continues to showcase his ability to attack. The reason he is able to shoot this way while running up, is because of his lower body frame. He is one of the most balanced shooters you can watch, since he can stop on an absolute dime to get into his normal shooting motion.

– Off-Hand at the Rim

I’ve alluded to Gabe’s ability to score at the rim lately, but what stands out more is the way he scores at the rim. He’s very comfortable using his off-hand on layups, and even floaters. As shown here, he drives to the basket and kisses it off the top of the backboard with his left hand. A few minutes later, he goes right at Joel Embiid to lay it in with a left handed finger role. People describe Tyler Herro with the word confidence frequently, but Gabe fits that description just as well.

– Reading what the Defense Gives Him

One of the biggest things that stands out to me when watching Gabe Vincent is his ability to read a defense, which is even more intriguing when facing a top defender in Ben Simmons. There are four minutes left in the 4th quarter, and Simmons is guarding Vincent. Gabe gives him a pump-fake which freezes him, and drives right to the basket for a layup. And yes, it was another off-hand layup. Shortly after, he comes off of a screen with Joel Embiid in front of him and Ben Simmons trailing, so he stops on a dime knowing Ben will run right into him. It’s the small things that are seen in Gabe’s offensive game that are so intriguing.

– Fundamental Offensive Game

One of the areas that Gabe has surprised me the most was his passing. He seems to know the offense very well, which has a lot to do with the absence of the G-League, since he’s been in every practice with this Heat team. On this play, he notices Joel Embiid sliding over to him, which puts him out of position to stop Kelly Olynyk. He throws a perfect bounce pass for an easy layup. This has a lot to do with the previous clip about reading a defense. He can see the court very well, which is impressive considering the fact that he hasn’t had major floor time.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Short-Handed Loss To Philadelphia

The Miami Heat faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers in a game where Miami was missing half of their team, but fell short in overtime. They were missing Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, among others but still showed plenty of heart throughout this game. Some late game Tyler Herro heroics weren’t enough, but still a great sign moving forward. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: Well, Duncan Robinson was Duncan Robinson, but showed flashes of growth.

Coming into this game, it was obvious that the coaching staff can get a look at a lot of these players from a different perspective. The main one being Duncan Robinson, since he always thrives when he shares the floor with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Tonight, he had to figure things out on his own, and he did. He hit 5 first half threes, after shooting poorly from deep to begin the first quarter. And during that stretch of struggle, his play-making abilities began to get showcased. He was forced to put the ball on the floor and drive, which led to him throwing some nice bounce passes to the cutter or cross court skip passes to the opposite corner. We know exactly what Duncan can do from the perspective of shooting, but it’s great to see flashes in the other parts of his offensive game.

#2: Gabe Vincent gets his opportunity, and takes advantage of it.

Gabe Vincent began to get into a flow offensively early in the game, and it wasn’t only from the three point line. Although he looked good from beyond the arc, which many know he is capable of, his ability to attack the basket stood out. Miami didn’t have many players that are primary attackers, although Tyler Herro looks to be at times, which led to Gabe driving and using his craftiness around the rim. He’s going to be an interesting name moving forward, since he could be a player that can help this team now. Since Kendrick Nunn hasn’t made many contributions as of late, Gabe is a guy that can slide in front of him awaiting an opening in the rotation. He got an opportunity and made the most of it, which was definitely noticed by the Heat’s coaching staff.

#3: Precious Achiuwa steps up into new role and thrives.

It’s not normal for a rookie in his ninth NBA game to step into the starting center position to guard the best center in the NBA, Joel Embiid. Precious looked good in the match-up with Joel in the first half, defending him well throughout, as well as showcasing some nice offensive moves. One of the biggest highlights from the game was when Precious took Embiid off the dribble for a wide open dunk. Joel Embiid began to look like Joel Embiid in the third quarter, absolutely taking over. When he began to do this, it was when Chris Silva was on the floor matched-up with him, which forced Coach Spo to send Precious right back in. It was a very unique circumstance that the game was being played, and it was a good thing that rookie Precious Achiuwa was a part of it.

#4: Kelly Olynyk third quarter, Tyler Herro fourth quarter.

As I mentioned before, Joel Embiid had it going throughout the third quarter. And when it looked as if Miami would be put away then, Kelly Olynyk kept them in it. Miami’s offense began to grow stagnant, and Kelly hit two straight threes when they were needed most. That is what Kelly Olynyk does. Tyler Herro, on the other hand, took over in the fourth quarter which is no surprise. When it looked like the game got out of reach once again, Tyler Herro put on a scoring clinic from all three levels to give Miami a comfortable lead. It is promising to see that even when Miami is without their three best players, they still have plenty of guys capable of stepping up in crunch time.

#5: This game will be looked back on down the line, as the moment players took a leap.

Although this game may not seem to hold much value, it does in the big picture. This game allowed many of Miami’s players to get outside of their comfort zone, which it’s important for players to go through stretches that are uncomfortable. Duncan Robinson being forced to drive and play-make was one that I discussed before, since I believe it’s something we see more of moving forward. Precious Achiuwa continued to put the ball on the floor, which is something he hasn’t done much of up to this point. And of course Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who didn’t necessarily take a leap, but took their initial step forward. We may see certain players that I mentioned have an expanded offensive package from this unique NBA game that was played tonight.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over OKC Thunder

The Miami Heat were coming off of a poor offensive performance on Friday night against Dallas, but came out tonight with a purpose against the Oklahoma City Thunder to get the win. Not only were there some pretty great performances all around, but also some clarity on this team moving forward. Here are my five takeaways….

#1: Jimmy Butler gets going out the gate.

Jimmy Butler ended up with 14 points at the end of the first half, since he came out with a purpose to get to the basket. And if it wasn’t a bucket in the paint for him, it was a pass to someone else around the goal for a basket. It has been discussed that the key to the Heat getting back to normal revolves around Jimmy. He was needed to set the tone, even in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he did just that. And as discussed, having another ball-handler and play-maker on the floor makes everybody’s life easier. As many were wanting, Jimmy Butler played like Jimmy Butler tonight, and it was necessary heading into a match-up with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

#2: Duncan Robinson’s shooting back to normal.

Duncan Robinson shot 1-8 from three last game against the Dallas Mavericks, and 0-5 in the first half. And well, Duncan ended up going 4-7 from three in the first half tonight. That has a lot to do with Jimmy playing like Jimmy as well, since as I’ve mentioned, Duncan’s offensive game revolves around the production of Butler. When Jimmy begins to penetrate, the defense begins to shift and crash the interior, which allows Duncan to get open on the outside off of Bam Adebayo screen assists. It’s not that Duncan shot incredibly tonight, he just shot like himself. It was needed tonight since getting in a rhythm after that last game was important, especially approaching a big game against Boston as I mentioned prior.

#3: Tyler Herro looks good all-around, but still has flashes of hesitance.

When watching Tyler play tonight, it’s just clear that scoring isn’t his number one priority as it has been in the past. There were plenty of times that he beat his defender, but passed out to the corner instead of getting the ball up. There were also times that he made that extra pass, when the better shot would’ve been the opportunity that he got. Now, this definitely isn’t a huge knock against him tonight, since he played pretty well, it’s just something to look out for moving forward. He continued to look good as a passer, which looks even better when he shared the court with Jimmy Butler or Goran Dragic. And his rebounding abilities were on display as well, which is needed since Miami is last in the league in rebounds. Those extra efforts can make the difference to win you a basketball game.

#4: Miami finds a comfortable 9 man rotation.

Kelly Olynyk got inserted into the starting lineup tonight, which was the 6th different starting lineup in 6 games. But after getting a look at the rotation, it seems as if it may be here to stay. For one, I’ve been a proponent of keeping both Avery Bradley and Andre Iguodala on the bench, since they cause defensive havoc on the perimeter when they share the floor together. Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa also have a great offensive connection that they don’t want to mix up, which is why they’ve been labeled as the core four bench unit. Now, the fifth starter has been in question, but Kelly Olynyk makes the most sense. He fits well with Bam Adebayo, and it allows Bam to slide to the power forward position. Also Kelly spaces the floor perfectly for Bam and Jimmy to penetrate, which means a much more functional offense. It seems like this 9 man rotation will be one that will be seen on a nightly basis.

#5: Kelly Olynyk became an offensive spark once again.

Although I discussed Kelly Olynyk a bit previously moving forward in the rotation, I couldn’t allow his overall performance tonight to get overlooked. He has been looked at as an offensive spark for this team over the years, since he is very capable of putting on a shooting display that he put on tonight. But although you get nights like this from him, some not so good ones come with it. And that’s a risk this team will take, since adding size to this team was essential individually, but having that in a guy who can knock down 6 threes is even better. Many have been talking about that 5th starter not being on the roster, but I believe he might be. Well, at least for now. Kelly gives this team exactly what they need, especially since he seems to be the perfect fit next to Bam Adebayo.