Tag Archive for: Duncan Robinson

Duncan Robinson Seriously Considered for Final USA Roster Spot

(With Brady Hawk)

As Team USA looks pretty close to complete, while Bam Adebayo headlines things for the Miami Heat, I can report that Duncan Robinson was seriously considered for one of the final spots on the roster, per a league source.

The latest addition of Kevin Love most likely would’ve been Robinson’s roster spot, but possibly the lack of bigs led to them going that route, since Adebayo, Draymond Green, and Jerami Grant were the only guys with size.

As known in that type of setting, you can never have enough shooting, especially when the team is full of a bunch of shot creators and on-ball threats. A roaming Robinson could’ve been a decent spark off the bench, considering the shooting year that he just had.

Even after a rocky start, he finished fourth in the NBA in total three-point makes, only behind Stephen Curry–who opted out of playing for the USA team, Damian Lillard–who will most likely be the starting point guard, and Buddy Hield.

Is rest the worst thing in the world for Robinson after a quick turnaround following a late bubble run and playing all 72 games this past season? The answer is no, but frankly, it’s quite the accolade to go from an undrafted NBA player to a member of the USA team.

As Robinson has discussed on his podcast, The Long Shot, this period of time will be for his individual improvements. And while Adebayo has a better chance of making a leap in one-on-one drills in USA training camp, Robinson seems to be better fitted for specific training including both basketball and body workouts.

Is Kevin Love a better fit for the USA team’s roster? Probably not, considering the year he just had, dropping to 12 points a game, which his only worse year statistically was his rookie season. But the combination of rest and individual improvement feels to be the focus this off-season for Robinson, as he prepares for a decent sized deal in the coming weeks.

How Did Duncan Robinson Progress in his Third Year?

The Duncan Robinson discussion this off-season is pretty interesting, since even though it could go in a couple different directions, it’s pretty clear which one will actually end up happening.

As I’ve been talking about in all of these pieces, the Heat lack a ton of assets, meaning even if they didn’t want to retain Robinson at that price, they would do it to reuse as a trade piece.

Now, I believe that Robinson will be retained immediately for a bunch of the same reasons that many have mentioned. For one, Erik Spoelstra re-designed his entire offense around this un-drafted shooter, so if you think that he will just end up walking this off-season, you’re completely wrong.

The interesting part about it is what will occur after he is signed. If the right deal comes along, a sign and trade scenario could occur to bring in a guy to fulfill the roster. The issue with that is I don’t see a player out there right now that Miami would trade Robinson for immediately. It’s all a waiting game, but at this moment, I’d imagine Robinson is back on this Heat roster next season.

But instead of completely projecting forward, let’s take a look back a bit. What areas of Robinson’s game actually took a significant leap?

Yeah, He Can Shoot A Bit

I don’t need to sit here and showcase a bunch of DHO’s from this season between Robinson and Bam Adebayo, since you guys have gotten a good enough look at that over the last two years. And well, so have opposing teams.

Opposing adjustments were made in the bubble which then blended into the beginning of the regular season. Defenders would guard him sideways when he lined up on the three-point line, knowing exactly where he was looking to go on the court.

This forced Spoelstra to scheme some different looks for him in the offense, leading to another Robinson transformation for Miami. As seen in the clip above, this was a base set for Robinson after the DHO expansion. Instead of lining up in a predictable wing or corner, he would start in the mid-range, ready to explode down the baseline and loop around off some stagger screens.

Of course the dribble hand-off is still there at times, but not to the extent it once was. And clearly, off-ball movement from Robinson wasn’t going to be enough to make him a complete player in the offense.

This led to another slight change for Robinson, which I definitely didn’t see coming so quickly: on-ball effectiveness. The high pick and roll basically became the new DHO for Adebayo and Robinson, but the key was that there was some diversity.

It was no longer about waiting to see how the defense decided to guard him each night. It then became: force the defense to make a decision. If the team is playing drop, will the big man double out to the three-point line? If so, Robinson can hit Adebayo, which I’ll discuss down the line.

If the big doesn’t fully commit, then Robinson can rise up with a slight contest every time. We all know Robinson can shoot, so showcasing catch and shoot opportunities from the season is quite pointless. But seeing him able to adjust on the fly the way that he did this season says a lot about him as a player, and it was a perfect time to test him right before his contract decision making.

Swarming the Shooter Leads to Increasing the Dribbles

We saw Robinson run sets a little farther back to put the ball on the floor a bit more, leading up to the three-point line. But what about his attacking inside the arc?

Clearly, we don’t see it much, but there was a definite frequency increase from the year prior. It’s not about Robinson being this attacking threat to score at more than just one level. It’s actually about opening up his primary skill even more.

In the clip above, we get a glimpse of that. Robinson knocks down the triple on the wing, then finds himself at the same spot about a minute later. This time around, he doesn’t have anything close to the same amount of space. The slight pump-fake draws Josh Hart a little closer, then he drives to the basket with a nice fake to the corner to get Steven Adams out of his way, and lays it in with Hart on his back.

It was obvious that this element of his game only occurred when shots were falling, since he began to play much more freely. The good thing about that is that’s the only time they need him driving to the cup. That one drive keeps the defense honest from that point forward after they’re forced to leave some cushion, giving him the needed space to pull with zero hesitance.

Pocket Pass Expert

This ties back into the high pick and roll stuff I discussed earlier, since that’s when most of his passing is on display. Most of the time in that set, both defenders are blitzing him, meaning he must make the pocket pass to give Adebayo a 4 on 3 on the opposite side.

On this play above, the result of this play may have been a Robinson three, but that’s not the most important part. It’s more important that he starts off the game with a great leading pocket pass, which forces the defense to sag off that blitz a bit differently.

The reason it’s so intriguing to discuss his growing game is that most of my points seem to refer back to the same thing: forcing defensive adjustments. Teams continue to bounce off the play-style of Robinson, which is impressive due to the fact he has not yet reached his peak.

Also, it’s another reason the discussion that I continue to have about the addition of a point guard is so crucial. Yes, Spo voluntarily built the offense around Robinson, but he could be so much more creative with it if he had a trusted facilitator to get guys in their spots, instead of forcing Adebayo and Butler into that role.

Anyway, it’s important to note this passing ability from Robinson this season, since it basically opened up his entire offensive game as the year progressed.

Making Slight Defensive Improvements

Robinson has been a huge negative on the defensive end since breaking into the starting lineup, but we finally got to see some flashes late in the season. If there was one area to highlight on that end of the floor mid-season, it was that his team defense actually wasn’t that awful.

The 2-3 zone was basically a route to hide a lot of Miami’s poor defenders, but it actually allowed Robinson to make an impact. He has the length to be effective on close-outs and contests, while the foot speed seemed like a major issue at times.

The early foul calls every single night may not seem to be a great example for the improvements, but he’s shown an ability to be in the right spots, as shown in the clip above.

Now, the individual stuff was still in question, but down the stretch of the season, there were slight improvements. In the two game set against Boston, he gave a glimpse of what he could do on that end of the floor if he continues to work on it.

No, he didn’t shut down Jayson Tatum, but there were possessions where his length forced him into uncomfortable situations, which is exactly what many have been waiting for him to utilize.

When I asked him about his effectiveness on the defensive end after those Boston games, he said, “It’s definitely been a process. There’s been highs and lows throughout the year…Just trying to continue to build and improve.” And if he does continue to improve, it clearly raises his impact levels tremendously.

The Next Step

When I addressed the next stage of Robinson’s game following last season, it was that the addition of a one-dribble pull-up can shift his game even more. And well, here I am again, making that same point.

We didn’t see much of it throughout the year, but it definitely came up at times, while it always seemed to be a capable ability. This game against Philly is the perfect example since he was forced to put the ball on the floor with only eight available players.

He catches it off the curl, dribbles once, and rises at the free throw line. He’s very capable of knocking that down, but I think it’s more of a comfort thing. I said he would need to work on that last off-season, yet there wasn’t much time to actually make any improvements in that small frame of time.

But if that is added to his bag before the start of next season, it makes him incredibly more difficult to guard in the half-court.

The continued sticking point for every Heat player this season will be that first round series, but well, it shouldn’t. Robinson, specifically, made a ton of small leaps in his game that will be so important for the near future, making the roster construction aspect of things so interesting.

As pointed out earlier, I don’t see a way that a contract isn’t done between the Miami Heat and Robinson this off-season, but there’s a clear possibility the sign and trade route could be explored. Either way, that deal will make this Heat team better in some facet, leading to all eyes shifting to the start of free agency.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Bucks in Game One

The Miami Heat fell short in game one against Milwaukee, in a very odd game all around. Jimmy Butler sent the game to overtime on a buzzer beating layup, while his overall performance wasn’t as positive. Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson kept them in it throughout, but it ultimately wasn’t enough, after a Khris Middleton jumper in overtime to take the lead with 0.5 left. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Miami’s early offense was, indeed, a flash from the past.

As explained in my previews throughout the week, I mentioned that the initial adjustment for Miami would occur on the offensive side of the ball, reverting back to DHO’s with Duncan Robinson. The reasoning was due to Brook Lopez’s deep drop giving Robinson more than enough room to get shots off, and he did just that to begin the game. Three triples early in the first quarter came out of that set, and well, that was pretty much all they got from that area of the floor, which I will discuss next. It’s great to see Robinson getting these type of looks in a playoff setting, since his only way of offense throughout the season has been either catch and shoot or high pick and roll stuff. As Milwaukee did last year in the post-season, they will start to send more out to the three-point line to eliminate Robinson’s looks, which is where Bam Adebayo comes into play.

#2: Shooting was far from being pretty on both sides.

Miami shooting 8 for 21 from beyond the arc in the first half may look bad, but not as bad as Milwaukee’s 2 for 17 shooting display. The exact opposite was the expectation in this series, since both teams give up a good amount of threes. Shots just weren’t falling on both ends, but that shouldn’t discredit each team’s defense. The Bucks did a good job of chasing Miami off the line and forcing them into tough shots at the end of the shot clock. And by the way, it wasn’t only threes that weren’t falling early, since they only shot 30% on twos in the first half as well. The looks that many expected Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro to knock down against the drop, wasn’t occurring as frequently. And well, the shooting from Miami’s stars definitely didn’t help, as I dive into next.

#3: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo struggle in first half.

3 for 16 from the field in the first half of game one of the playoffs is not what was expected for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but that’s exactly what happened. Butler had the mid-range jumper plenty of times, but charged the basket instead, leading to plenty of missed bunnies. But at least Butler was trying to generate offense. Adebayo was not taking advantage of the offensive space that I’ve been discussing all week. One possession in the second quarter told the whole story: Adebayo searches for a DHO on the elbow with nobody near him, and looks to pass to Butler who waves his arm for him to go. Adebayo uncomfortably and reluctantly turned into a jumper which clanked off the rim. The moments in which his jumpers are effective is when he’s comfortably shooting them. And that first half proved he wasn’t comfortable in that role.

#4: Miami’s bench was an absolute roller coaster with positives outweighing the negatives.

When discussing the Heat’s bench as a roller coaster in this game, it’s the perfect description. For starters, Goran Dragic played with great pace and burst throughout this game, which was the one element that was unexpected to begin the series. He was one of the few guys that gave Miami positive minutes all the way through, which is a positive element for this team as they go forward. Another positive bench player was Dewayne Dedmon, since he just carried over his regular season role perfectly into the playoffs. He fights on the boards, contests shots at the rim, and has an odd level of efficiency around the rim. Lastly, Tyler Herro rounded out the phrase roller coaster with the second unit. He wasn’t in his normal rhythm as Milwaukee hounded him, and couldn’t get to the spots in the drop that many expected heading in, but began to become his usual self in the fourth for a spurt. An interesting element to the Heat’s reserves is that some night’s they can be the team’s biggest boost, while being the team’s biggest downfall other games.

#5: Once again, this isn’t last year, meaning overall schemes change.

My last takeaway from this game is that this isn’t the same series, and last year shouldn’t continually be harped on. The reason for Miami stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo was not because of Jae Crowder alone. They built a scheme that included Crowder who did a great job of utilizing his strength against him. But he’s not here anymore, and Miami’s still going. Trevor Ariza does not provide the best one-on-one match-up for him, but one-on-one and Antetokounmpo are two things that don’t go together. They throw a bunch of guys at him, which is why it’s been so effective over time. So, my final point is that harping on the past is just a lazy take at this point of the season. They have their guys, they have their adjustments, and it’s working just fine on the defensive end.

Summer League Trio to Playoff Trio

When looking at the stories of Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson with the Miami Heat, they’re all clearly different. But they still ended up at the same starting point to end up where they are today.

It all started in Summer League, as the three of them were just trying to showcase their youthful skills to try and move up to the next level. Now, Miami’s heading into the playoffs with two of them as starters and the other as a sixth man scorer.

This has been a season of ups and downs, but now that every team has officially made it to the 72 game mark, it’s necessary to evaluate this trio of young guys and depict the biggest improvements that they’e made this season. So, here’s what stood out…

Kendrick Nunn:

Catch and shoot

When I say that I’m evaluating the biggest improvements this season, it doesn’t mean that I’m looking at the numbers to find an increase. But if there was any point that would be backed up by the stats dramatically, it would be this one.

Kendrick Nunn has pretty much been an on-ball guy since joining the team last season, but the reason for his latest surge has a lot to do with giving him time off the ball. Lineups with both Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro are much more possible due to that ability, and that ability is spot up shooting.

He shot 35% on catch and shoot threes last season, which has jumped up to 42% this season. Spoiler alert: that’s a big deal.

One thing I’ve mentioned for quite some time is that he’s utilized in an interesting way when Duncan Robinson exits the floor. He basically becomes the Robinson lite in most of their offensive sets, which is something I would not have expected from him before the season started.

When I asked Nunn about the reasoning for his improvement in that area, he said, “I just put in the work to become better at catch and shoot, and obviously the results are showing.”

Yes, the results are showing, and it’s perfect for Coach Spo due to the fact he can utilize his starting guard in a much freer way on a position-less team.

Decision making in PnR

If you asked me what Nunn’s biggest struggle was last season, it would be the indecisiveness in the pick and roll. He never really knew when to pull that mid-range jumper with confidence or make the lob pass, which is an important trait with his current role.

But not only has he gotten better in that area, it’s actually become one of his biggest strengths. Coach Spo labeled him as a “three level scorer” the other day, and being a quick decision maker allows him to succeed at all three levels.

A quick decision maker doesn’t mean just as a passer, since as shown in the video clip above, the mid-range pull-up with confidence has a lot to do with his improving defensive reads.

The funny thing about these being two of his biggest improvements is that they’re total opposites. One highlights his off-ball abilities, while the other showcases his skill-set with the ball in his hands, and that’s the very reason he’s been rolling ever since being stuck in the starting lineup. This exact combo is a hard player to guard, and he will finally get his shot in the post-season to show that he can contribute on the big stage.

Tyler Herro:

Off-ball navigation

Tyler Herro has had an odd season individually, including injuries, slumps, and changing roles, but the improvements are still fluid. When I mention changing roles, I’m talking about being the starting point guard to begin the season, then shifting down to the bench when that didn’t seem to work out.

That’s not an easy thing to do, going from bench player to playoff breakout to starting lineup then back to bench. Nunn may have done it and thrived but he’s proved to be a different breed in mental readiness.

Through this roller coaster of a season for Herro, he’s finally found his role, and completely thrived. No matter if he’s had a dip in some of his numbers or not, he still gets the defensive respect from opposing teams. Everybody knows Tyler Herro, so everybody wants to shut down Tyler Herro.

The thing about that is it’s forced him to adjust his offensive game. Instead of the free flowing offense he played last season, it’s become working for a slimmer of space off the ball. As seen above, the use of off-ball screens on this team have allowed it, but he’s been figuring out some individual fakes on the run to get free by running his defender into the screen.

I asked Herro about the different defensive coverages recently, and he responded, “Obviously it’s a new year and things change. Different defenses are going to throw different things at you night in and night out, and you just have to adjust.”

Well, he’s done that pretty well to end the season, but the playoffs will be a whole other beast. Teams will be ready for his off the bench production, especially in a familiar town of Milwaukee.

Downhill passing

This improvement isn’t just recency bias from his career high assist night on the last game of the season, so it must be noted.

For one, some of the downs of Herro this season have forced people to forget the production to begin the year. His shooting numbers weren’t great, but he was getting to the rim pretty regularly and was highly efficient. He shot 51% less than 10 feet from the basket last season, which shot up to 57% this season.

The thing about that ability is it can easily be taken away when he doesn’t have a screen to navigate around. So, the next piece to add to the puzzle was going to be a reliable passing ability on the move, and he’s added that.

When I asked Herro about that ability, he said, “I came here and the coaching staff really helped me with my decision making and being able to make the right read.”

It’s pretty clear that his play-making abilities are at its best when he’s on the move downhill, since the key to his passing success is instinctive decisions. It’s something we’ve especially seen in the 3 games this season where the Heat had eight available players, while Herro was one of them.

Why is it that his downhill passing and lob is so effective in those settings? Well, it’s one word: freedom. When he’s playing tense, those passes become turnovers, which will be one of the most interesting things for him heading into the post-season, to see if he can sustain that ability in games being played in the half-court.

Duncan Robinson:

Individual defense

I am not going to lie, I did not expect to be discussing Duncan Robinson’s defense as the primary improvement this season, but here we are. Early in the season he had flashes of team defense expertise, due to his knowledge of when to double, splitting the difference between two guys on the weak-side, and his best possessions occurring in the zone.

But well, his one-on-one defense has made major leaps this season as well, even seeing the Jayson Tatum match-up for two straight games to end the season.

He’s always been a guy that offenses looked to force a switch and attack, or better yet search for him in the zone as shown above. But his length has prevented that overall bullying on a night to night basis, which is something else that changes things for the playoffs.

The utilization of Robinson last year was interesting, since his offensive gravity in the Finals was obviously needed, but LeBron James depicting the defense to put Robinson on whoever he wanted made it difficult.

Now, that can’t be used as frequently. Of course, he’s not this world class defender that is going to lock up his match-up every night, but he does have the necessary attributes to stay on the floor and not be a total liability.

I asked Robinson about the defensive leaps this season, which he responded, “It’s definitely been a process. There’s been highs and lows throughout the year…but I’m just trying to continue to build and improve. When I’m put in those situations like that, I’m just continuing to build that trust that the coaching staff and the team has in me to be solid.”

DHO to high PnR

It’s not everyday that you see a team base an offense around an undrafted shooter, but that’s exactly what the Miami Heat did last year. And well, it worked.

It actually worked so well that teams have schemed against it so much that Miami was forced to go away from it this season. So, eliminating dribble hand-offs from the offense would eliminate Duncan Robinson, right?


A straight catch and shoot player wasn’t expected to make improvements on the fly to impact games off the dribble, but that’s exactly what he did. He shifted into more of the high pick and roll sets, giving him more room to navigate and leaving the defense with a very difficult decision.

Do I lag behind and give him a good look on a pull up three? Do we double out on him and allow Bam Adebayo to run a 4 on 3? It’s a tough decision, but most times they’re choosing the latter, which just reflects his offensive abilities.

Out of all the improvements named in this article, I don’t think there’s one more significant than this one. Yes, others made some jumps in certain areas of their game, but nobody was forced to change their entire offensive game and absolutely thrive.

Nunn, Herro, and Robinson went from trying to prove themselves in a Summer League setting to being three of the primary elements to their offense heading into a very intriguing first round match-up. And the one thing all of them have in common: they aren’t one bit scared of the big stage.



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The Offensive Evolution of Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson

The rise of Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo has been quite the ride. Not as individual players, but the offensive base that was revolved around them, then progressed as it became too much of a headache for opposing defenses.

The dribble hand-off was a staple of the Miami Heat’s offense, consisting of Robinson’s incredible ability to run full speed off screens and fire, while Adebayo sets the perfect and steady screen. It became almost too easy for the Heat in the regular season last year:

Robinson just runs the three-point line, as the defender goes under the screen, which is mistake number one when facing a shooter of this magnitude. He ran from wing to wing around the perimeter like a football player runs the sideline after the catch, which didn’t need any changes since nobody could stop it.

But well, that duo has been getting schemed against at the top of the scouting report, beginning in the post-season last year then growing even more this season. The question became: Could a catch and shoot guy overcome this defensive scheming?

The short answer is yes, if you’re Duncan Robinson. Things like starting offensive sets a few steps behind the three-point line have become a natural occurrence for him, stretching the defense as much as possible with the only option to put the ball on the floor and navigate off the Adebayo screen. And that right there has become a primary element of his game after some extra reps as the ball-handler.

When diving into some of the Adebayo/Robinson offensive sets, Erik Spoelstra has had to get really creative to free up Robinson.

A perfect example is this inbound play, as Adebayo receives the entry pass, Robinson’s off-ball screening becomes the decoy. He fakes the screen and flows into a dribble hand-off, which shows that even though DHO’s are trying to be eliminated, they’re still possible at times with some extra creativity.

Also, it’s just hard to scheme against this type of DHO. Slowly walking down the baseline, waiting for his time to explode. Right when Goran Dragic clears out, he sprints toward Adebayo and takes a sharp angle to allow him enough space to shoot over the top. Bucket.

If there’s anything that this tells me, it’s that Robinson is working really hard on the small things in his offensive game to make these things possible. I asked Adebayo about Robinson’s all-around improvements, which he responded, “He wants to win, it doesn’t matter how we win or what we do to win…He enjoys others success. So, that’s why I feel he’s playing out of his mind, he just spreads so much positivity.”

And that right there sums up the unselfishness of Robinson, that he will do the small things such as off-ball screening or play as a decoy if that’s what it takes to win, which is the reason he’s exploding at the moment.

So, it’s also important to note the amount of possessions that those DHO’s are totally taken out of the equation. He’s continually denied when navigating the Adebayo screen, but look at the creativity to get open next.

He passes out to Tyler Herro, rolls back into the screen and curls around to the middle of the floor where Herro finds him. Thinking back a few months ago, the next decision by Robinson would be to find the closest player to him to pass it to. But things have changed.

He decides to go with a one-legged baseline fade-away and it drops. I don’t think some people realize how much this weighs on a defender following this shot dropping. All of the efforts around screens to keep up with Robinson, just to catch it off the ball and score on the interior is far from being easy to guard.

This third quarter was probably his best all-around quarter of his career. Great defensive moments, putting the ball on the floor, knocking down shots, and impacting the game away from the ball. That’s why this evolving duo of Adebayo and Robinson continues to be effective.


The final way of trying to free Robinson in these sets is just to muck things up in the middle of the floor to confuse a defense. Usually this leads to both defenders flying out on Robinson for an easy pass down low to Dragic, but somehow, the opposite occurred.

Nobody stayed on Robinson, which led to him looping around to the corner for an easy corner three.

I’ve dove into a lot of Robinson here, but Adebayo’s role in the effectiveness will continue to increase over time. The pocket pass has been close to mastered between the two, which leads to getting Adebayo in his best offensive spot: downhill play.

Three defenders and four offensive players become the new offense, while the ball is put in their best play-makers hands.

When I asked Robinson about Adebayo stepping up offensively in those type of spots, he replied, “He can impact the game in so many ways without taking shots. He’s really good at picking his spots, and also knowing when it’s time for him to be who he is, to be an All-Star and dominate the game offensively…He, of course, rose to the occasion, like we all expect him too.”

Although Robinson has realized his offensive role and maximized it, it’s now time for Adebayo to do the same. He did that in the win over Boston on Tuesday night after Jimmy Butler went down, but it must become a normal thing even when Butler is playing.

As Robinson said, it’s about knowing when to pick his spots and to be the All-Star that he is. And when that occurs on the regular, this duo will take yet another leap in their offensive effectiveness.

Dribble hand-offs weren’t the only reason for their success. It’s the joint mindset of buying into the offensive scheme, which is mostly based off the aggression of those two.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Boston

The Miami Heat swept the two game set against the Boston Celtics, meaning the Heat solidify a top six seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid the play-in tournament. A good start for Jimmy Butler turned into an unexpected ending, since he sat out the second half after being poked in the eye early on. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Boston Celtics meet Tyler Herro. Tyler Herro meet the Boston Celtics.

If anything is clear between the Heat and Celtics, it’s that they’re very aware of the play of Tyler Herro after a 37 point performance in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. That didn’t end there, since he came out to play on Tuesday night against the Celtics as well. He scored 15 first half points on 7 for 9 shooting, which just shows that it didn’t consist of set shooting, catch and shoot threes. If you were to ask which part of the floor he began to get it going from, it was the mid-range, which has become a staple of his young career. Other than usual pull-up mid range jumpers against drop coverage, he seems to be navigating different defensive coverages a lot better lately. His go-to move off the dribble is the snake dribble, but he’s added on to that a bit. He’s keeping guys on his hip before pulling into his high arcing shot, which is crucial for his offensive success moving forward.

#2: Some Heat star power early aggression.

Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro combined for 43 points in the first half, and that was the most important thing about this game for Miami. Although I dove into Herro already, the stats of Butler and Adebayo were going to be crucial in this game, mostly in the shot attempt area. Dwyane Wade said pregame on TNT that Coach Spo should be telling his players to treat this as a game 7, and game sevens are for star players. Adebayo had the mid-range jumper falling early, while taking advantage of mismatches in the post frequently. Butler had some jumpers falling as well, but the usual free throw line antics was the story line, which is so essential for this team due to the fact an aggressive Butler translates to good offense for Miami. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier had big first halves as well for Boston with 17 a piece, which shows how much of an offensive half it was.

#3: How much did it cost to get Dewayne Dedmon again?

Dewayne Dedmon has found himself on most of these post-game pieces, but it’s for good reasons. For starters, the big picture thought about the cost of acquiring him is mind-boggling due to the amount of impact he’s currently bringing. The first description that must be brought up about his performance is consistency. His consistency game to game is not an easy element to bring to a team after a long period away from an NBA team. Miami knows exactly what he’s going to give them every night: rebounds, strong box-outs, easy buckets in the paint. The other area of consistency has to do with his scoring efficiency, since he hasn’t had a poor shooting night since joining the team. Obviously efficiency is much easier with a guy who plays the interior and doesn’t shoot a bunch of shots, but it’s still very impressive.

#4: Third Quarter: Butler steps back, Robinson steps up.

Jimmy Butler came out of halftime, motioning towards Coach Erik Spoelstra with an apparent eye injury. With him out, somebody was going to need to step up. Adebayo did that majorly on the offensive end, yet he wasn’t the third quarter story-line. Well, that’s because Duncan Robinson had one of the best all-around quarters that I’ve ever seen him play. Great defensive positioning in isolation, pushing the pace in transition, rising the intensity, and of course, knocking down threes. He got to the free throw line after some back and forth with Marcus Smart, which is not a familiar area of the floor for Robinson. But when that occurs multiple times in a quarter, other things begin to open up. Seeing him find ways to score on his own is the ultimate explanation of his offensive growth, which is much more than scoring at this stage.

#5: A best case scenario in terms of confidence for this Heat team.

In one of the biggest games of the season for this Heat team, Miami didn’t have Jimmy Butler for a half. And yet, that didn’t seem to matter. I dove into some of the individual performances of the night, but this is much more than the nightly numbers. This team was looking for a certain spark approaching the post-season with this Boston series, and that spark just got a whole lot larger. Seeing role players step up is not only essential for the team overall, but Butler in particular. While he’s battling an injury, his team showed up for him, which is the type of trust he needs heading into playoff mode. People were talking about the importance of this game throughout the week, but this result is much more meaningful than originally expected.

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.