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Goran Dragic out for NBA Finals Game 2 as expected

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic has been ruled out for game 2 of the NBA Finals, joining Heat big man Bam Adebayo on the list of players sidelined. Dragic suffered a plantar tear in his left foot in the first half of game 1. 

 

 

 

Both Dragic and Adebayo were listed as doubtful. Adebayo is expected to be able to return some time during the series. There is less optimism surrounding Goran. 

 

 

 

Dragic has been Miami’s leading scoring during its run to the NBA Finals. Rookie guard Kendrick Nunn will have to fill the void in Goran’s absence. Nunn scored 18 points in game one, which could help return some of his confidence after struggling during the postseason. Expect Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro to also pick up some of the scoring load.

 

Game two will tip-off at 9 p.m. tonight.

 

Royal Shepherd (@RoyalAShepherd) has written for several major newspapers, including the Tallahassee Democrat and the Augusta Chronicle, and now contributes to Five Reasons Sports.

The Miami Heat’s 5 free agent decisions

The Miami Heat will have little time to celebrate a successful playoff run this offseason before making some roster decisions about the upcoming season. The Heat are positioning themselves to be major players in the 2021 free agency market, with names like Giannis Antentokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis potentially being available for the taking.

 

Although Miami is set to have enough cap room to sign a max player, there are some tough choices this summer that could impact the Heat’s “whale hunting” in the future. Here are a few of Miami’s impending free agents and where they potentially fit in Miami’s plans moving forward.  

 

  • Goran Dragic

Dragic has been one of the biggest stories of the team’s run in the bubble. He is leading the team in scoring in the playoffs and has displayed some of his best basketball in a Heat jersey this year. Goran is in the last year of his deal, which pays $17 million this season. Considering his production, that number is relatively inexpensive. However, at 34, his best days are probably behind him and he will likely return to the bench next season. Miami will want to reward Goran because of how important he has been to this team’s success but avoid messing with any of its potential spending for 2021. Is the Dragon willing to take a one-year balloon payment or will he take a multi-year deal elsewhere? 

 

Prediction: Dragic will take the one-year balloon payment this summer and negotiates a team-friendly deal with the Heat next offseason. Dragic has now spent half of his career in Miami and this run should help both he and the franchise realize that he should finish here. 

 

  • Meyers Leonard

Leonard has been a joy to have in Miami this season with not only his play, but his professionalism and commitment to the organization and the community. Meyers has been a model citizen this season and would have been welcomed back with open arms under any other circumstances. He will command more than his current $10 million salary this summer from another team. The Heat will not be able to match that. 

 

Prediction: Leonard will give the Heat an opportunity to retain his services. Unfortunately, the team won’t have much to offer him in terms of money, long-term security or playing time. Meyers will be a one-and-done in a Heat jersey, but he will be remembered fondly by fans.

 

  • Jae Crowder

Crowder was the steal of the Winslow trade. His impact on defense became a secondary thought when compared to the revelation that has been his three-point shooting. The Boss Man converted at a nearly 45 percent clip during the regular season for Miami after arriving from Memphis. He is shooting 38 percent on nine attempts in the playoffs. The team got more than what they bargained for in Crowder and will scramble to make room for him on this roster moving forward. The challenge will be convincing Crowder to forgo a multi-year deal and accept a one-year deal to remain in Miami. By all accounts, Crowder enjoys Miami and wants to be here. With his shooting numbers going up, so has his value to other suitors, many of which more willing to spend than Miami. He may have played his way to much more than his current $7 million number. The question for Jae is will he choose culture of currency.

 

Prediction: The likelihood of Crowder duplicating this year’s success next season are slim to none. He has been a sniper for Miami, but there is no evidence to suggest that he can sustain that level of play long term. Miami will do everything within reason to keep him, but ultimately, another team comes in with a deal too good for Jae to pass up.

 

  • Derrick Jones Jr.

DJJ deserves to be paid and he will be paid, but will it be by Miami? If the Heat were able to keep him at his current $1.5 million price tag, the deal would have been done months ago. Jones’ defensive length and athleticism are hot commodities in today’s league where long, versatile wings are all the rage. Miami might have an avenue to success. Unless they are completely outbid in the market, Miami may be able to use the scraps of the potential Leonard and Crowder departures to cobble up a suitable deal for the slam dunk champ. 

 

Prediction: Miami should be able to keep DJJ for a price between $5-7. The only two things that could derail that are unexpected offers from outside teams and Jae Crowder choosing to stay in Miami.

 

  • Kelly Olynyk

This one is pretty straight forward. Olynyk declining his $12 million player option for next year is as about as likely as Pat Riley calling Danny Ainge up to go for beers. Expect to see Kelly in a Heat jersey next season, unless he can be flipped for something better by the trade deadline. While KO has been inconsistent at times, at his best, he is the perfect complement to Bam Adebayo. His ability to shoot from range, above-average playmaking and basketball IQ have become invaluable off of Miami’s bench.

 

Prediction: Olynyk was nearly traded to Dallas last year along with DJJ to help facilitate the Jimmy Butler trade. While Kelly may start the season with Miami, expect the Heat to try and trade his expiring contract before the end of the season.  

 

Honorable Mentions: Solomon Hill, Gabe Vincent, Kyle Alexander, Udonis Haslem

 

Royal Shepherd (@RoyalAShepherd) has written for several major newspapers, including the Tallahassee Democrat and the Augusta Chronicle, and now contributes to Five Reasons Sports.

5 Comments from Media Session with Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic

The Miami Heat held their final practice today before game four on Wednesday night. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic spoke with media afterward about their current mentality heading into tomorrow. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Jimmy Butler expanded on the idea of not getting behind early again in game four. He said, “I think we just gotta start off better.” He followed that talking about how much that falls on the starting unit. They must be ready to absolutely bring it out the gate, just as Tyler Herro does when he enters off the bench. Jimmy will be a huge proponent of not getting behind early, since he will need to attack a little more early on to control the pace. Goran Dragic is also coming off of a down game, which he will look to turn that around early as well. The more you hear these players talk after game three, the more it shows they’re ready.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Jimmy Butler gave a pretty Jimmy Butler like answer when asked about playoff physicality. He said, “There’s no friends in between those lines. Save that for after the game.” And that right there is a clear representation of why Jimmy is a Miami heat type player. He’s as focused as ever right now, since they’re six wins away from a NBA championship. He even decided not to have his family come to the bubble, since he mentioned that this is a business trip. He seems as locked in as ever, and since that loss has synced in over the last couple of days, this team will be prepared.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jimmy Butler also talked about the preparation for game four after that loss on Saturday night. He said, “We’re not gonna look back. We not gonna look forward. We gonna lock in on today.” That sounds like something Spo may have said, since he’s been saying just one game and one practice at a time. And with this team, locking in on today is very important, since Spo has been cooking up a bunch of adjustments over the last few practices. Although he’s locked in today, I can guarantee he’ll be even more locked in tomorrow, with a chance to go up 3-1 on the Boston Celtics.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Goran Dragic also got to discuss the feeling in their locker room right now. He said, “It’s great. We feel good. We did our job, we prepare well, and we’re gonna see tomorrow how we do.” A main takeaway from both this statement and Jimmy’s comments is that this team is extremely confident heading into tomorrow. At the end of the day, this team is 10-2 in this year’s postseason, which may be why this loss feels so odd for them. He mentioned the word “preparing,” which is what they’ve been doing a lot of since there’s been a bunch of film sessions over the last few days. Execution will be huge in game four, and there’s a good chance they’ll do just that.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Goran also talked about the chemistry on this current Heat team. He said, “We really enjoy spending time together. We enjoy playing together on the floor and you can see that energy transfers to the floor.” This is something that Goran has mentioned time and time again. He really enjoys the bond of this locker room, and you can tell he’s having a good time going to battle with his teammates on a nightly basis. Goran finished off the media session mentioning their team defense. He said, “We need to do a better job containing the ball and helping each other.” That was a huge reason for their loss on Saturday, since guys like Jimmy weren’t helping when Jayson Tatum and others would attack Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson in the paint. If they clean this up, they’ll have a good shot at winning.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Comeback Win over Boston in Game One

The Miami Heat once again displayed their pure will and grittiness tonight, battling back to win in overtime, 117-114. A corner Jimmy Butler three late in the fourth, led to an overtime finish, which was a Jimmy Butler layup with the foul to give them the lead. Bam Adebayo’s game saving block on Jayson Tatum won Miami the game though. Here are some takeaways…

#1: First half fluctuates, Boston begins and Miami ends.

The Boston Celtics came out to start the game at their absolute best, while Miami played their worst. Marcus Smart was the clear hot hand for Boston, while Jayson Tatum followed close behind. And while it seemed that Boston would blow the doors off, Miami battled back. The score was tied at halftime, which it didn’t seem it was heading that was throughout. This is a clear representation of these two teams. Both Boston and Miami are streaky teams, that go through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. They each had their quarter, but ultimately the second half was the true test, which Boston controlled but Miami rallied back.

#2: Goran Dragic single-handedly brings Miami back.

It seems as if it’s the same story with Goran Dragic every game, an absolute offensive display. When it seemed as if Miami would never get back into an offensive flow, Goran fixed that per usual. He attacked the basket and controlled the mid-range, which is what is needed when trying to get your team out of the mud. He continually shows he’s the offensive engine, since he’s Miami’s most consistent scorer. But he can’t carry the while offensive load for 35 minutes a game. That’s why Jimmy Butler is looked to in the second half usually and down the stretch. It’s up to Jimmy to take control of that, which he did hitting a corner three pointer late in the fourth quarter.

#3: Bam Adebayo once again proves that he does everything on the floor.

It was talked about that Bam Adebayo would need to be the guy for Miami to win this series. But that doesn’t always mean scoring, it means impact. Bam Adebayo was flying across the court tonight, making Boston’s offense choppy. Kemba Walker was held to 2 first half points, which was mostly due to the constant energy of Bam on the pick and rolls. He also was huge for Miami with his play-making abilities, pulling Daniel Theis out of the paint and setting up others. This is something he brings to the table every single game, due to his guard-like play. This is Bam’s series, it’s up to him to bring that constant energy. And obviously the game winning block on Jayson Tatum, which describes Bam Adebayo.

#4: Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler bounce off others.

It was clear that Tyler Herro got into an offensive rhythm once Goran Dragic got going. It was also because Tyler needed a little bit to settle in, and once he does, it’s trouble for Boston. Tyler mostly made himself useful with his ball-handling and passing, with 6 assists in the first half. Tyler’s ability to set up others during tough stretches is key. Jimmy also needed a boost to bounce off others, which is what he usually does in the fourth quarters of games. He’s a player that needs others to play good in order to thrive scoring the ball, but once Jimmy gets going, he’s hard to stop. This is just another evident representation of how Goran impacts others, and it’s needed more than ever right now.

#5: Miami’s scrappiness late on both sides of the ball wins them the game.

Once again it seemed as if the game was over, but with Miami the game is never over. Small plays win you playoff games. That includes the play that could’ve been an open Jae Crowder three, but he makes the high IQ play, assisting to Jimmy Butler for a dunk. Those are Miami Heat type plays. Another play that stands out was a Jimmy Butler kick out to Tyler Herro for an open three. These guys trust one another late in games, which isn’t common. But lastly, a late Jimmy Butler corner three forces overtime, and he finishes them off in overtime with an and 1 layup. But more importantly, a Bam Adebayo game saving block on a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt wins Miami the game.

 

5 Post-Practice Comments from Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic

The Miami Heat are officially playing the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals starting Tuesday, after Boston took down the Toronto Raptors in game seven. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic spoke about the match-up with the Boston Celtics with media today after practice. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Goran Dragic discussed Miami’s defensive match-ups with the Boston Celtics. He said, “We have a lot of guys who can guard multiple positions and I think we have the right guys who can defend their guys.” This mainly has to do with the amount of two-way wings that are on this current Heat roster, especially since they acquired Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala at the trade deadline. Boston’s biggest strength is the amount of versatile wings as well, but with Gordon Hayward out, it hurts that depth slightly. Goran also mentioned that he thinks they can still improve on the defensive side of the ball, which is something that Bam talked about yesterday.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Goran also touched on the planning for Jayson Tatum, as they did for Giannis Antetokounmpo. He said, “We cannot just throw the whole defense at him and forget about the other guys.” And that’s what they did against Milwaukee, since the Bucks role guys are not as offensively sound as Boston’s roster is. He also said, “They have a lot of guys who feed off of him and he’s proved he’s an all around player. It’s gonna have to be team defense.” And a lot of that is going to start with the defense of Goran. He is someone who struggles on the defensive end, which will allow Kemba Walker to attack and do what he does best. But since Boston runs a lot of stuff through a high pick and roll, it’ll allow Bam to step up on different guards, which is where he thrives. This is what Goran means when mentioning “team defense.”

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jimmy Butler got asked about the talent on the Celtics roster, and he gave a very Jimmy like answer. He said, “They’ve got some really good players, as do we.” But not only does Miami have talent, they have dogs. Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. That’s where Miami gains their advantage. Jimmy also mentioned that “We damn sure have to take it a game at a time.” This is what they’ve done all throughout the playoffs, which has led them to an 8-1 record, but now it’s even more important. Game one will be a clear indication on how Miami must play the rest of the series, but ultimately their going to try and prepare the same way they have all season.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Jimmy Butler also talked about the Eastern Conference Finals from a larger perspective. He said, “We all think that we’re the better team, we all think that we’re supposed to be here.” Many players say this about their own teams, but Jimmy actually means it sincerely. He has the ultimate amount of trust and confidence in himself and his teammates. He also said, “Going into these games, it’s about us. We control our destiny right now.” This is basically what Jae Crowder said yesterday, when he said the only way they can be stopped is from within. Jimmy knows they control their own destiny, and now it’s up to him to step up against Boston.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Jimmy Butler capped off his media session today talking about being underdogs. He said, “That’s a term that everyone else uses. I think we can have a chip on our shoulder…We’re supposed to be here. We’re not underdogs, we’re competitors.” Every player on this team likes to find an edge to give them a mental advantage, but ultimately Jimmy and others hold themselves to a higher standard. They’re “not embracing underdogs,” since they knew they’d be here. And this isn’t the final destination. A finals appearance isn’t the ultimate goal either. Winning an NBA championship is what they are aiming for, and they won’t be satisfied otherwise.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Crowder, Dragic

The Miami Heat had another early practice on Thursday, following Wednesday’s crazy finish against the Milwaukee Bucks. Erik Spoelstra most likely focused on late game execution today in practice, since it was pretty choppy for Miami down the stretch. Anyway, here’s what was said in today’s media session…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra mentioned Goran Dragic’s winning mentality that was displayed yesterday. He said, “He’s one of the more skilled, experienced winners in this league.” It’s been pretty clear that Goran has yet to have a bad game in the playoffs thus far. He has the ability to attack the rim at will, which he constantly uses his backboard floater, and also his elite shooting ability makes him that much more of a threat. But most of all, as Spo mentioned, Goran is a winner. That’s why he fits in so well with teammate Jimmy Butler. For example, though he’s not a great defender, Goran made a crucial steal in game one which iced the game, and even poked the ball loose from Khris Middleton in game two, which slowed the game down. That’s why he will be on the court to close games no matter the situation.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Erik Spoelstra was asked about an update on veteran Andre Iguodala, after he turned it pretty severely in yesterday’s game. Erik responded with “there’s no new update.” That definitely isn’t the best news, considering there was supposed to be an update today. If Andre was to be out a few games, that would mean Derrick Jones Jr would be back in Miami’s rotation. Derrick gave some pretty solid minutes in game two, especially with his scrappiness on the defensive end. It did seem as if he may be too small to guard Giannis one-on-one, which is why we will see him in lineups with Jae Crowder or Bam Adebayo. This will allow him to play off the ball, and do what he does best, which is utilizing his instinctive help defense.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jae Crowder was asked about his current feeling on this Heat team being up 2-0 on the Milwaukee Bucks. He said, “It’s definitely nothing right now.” The key for this Heat team now is to not get complacent. The reason I don’t think Miami will is because they have still yet to play their best game in this series. Jae also mentioned that he’s been down 2-0 before and still won the series. And honestly, Jae doesn’t seem to get enough credit for what he is doing in this Milwaukee series. For one, he’s knocked down some big shots for Miami down the stretches of both games. And second, he’s been an absolute Giannis stopper. Well, sort of. There’s no way to stop Giannis, but Jae Crowder does as good of a job as anybody guarding him, due to his size and physicality.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Goran Dragic talked a little about the controversial call when he fouled Khris Middleton on a three point attempt. He said, “You can’t give a referee a chance to put the game in their hands.” He then mentioned how he needs to do a much better job to avoid fouling jump shooters, especially at the end of a game. He also mentioned, “You have smart players, too. They know how to flop.” This comment may have a little something to do with that Khris Middleton shot as well, when Khris made sure to absolutely sell the foul call. But, if Miami can win a game like this, they can win any game.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Goran Dragic capped off his media session with the quote of the day. He said, “I’m 34 years old. I feel awesome.” As I’ve mentioned previously, some of the reason for Goran’s current play is because of the huge break, which seemed to get him back to his early season self. Another factor could be because of the current environment, which Goran mentioned today feels very similar to his summer three years ago when Slovenia won EuroBasket. Either way, Goran is 34 years old playing 34 minutes a game, and these are very quality minutes. Some also thought it had something to do with the match-ups, but Goran proved that wasn’t the case since he did pretty much whatever he wanted against Eric Bledsoe as well. If Goran keeps up this hot streak, this Miami team is a tough team to beat.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory over Bucks in Game Two

It was a bit of a choppy game for both the Heat and the Bucks throughout, but Miami rallied through to get the win, 116-114. A couple of late game foul calls, resulted in two free throws for Jimmy Butler to win the game. Here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: Once again, Goran Dragic too much for Milwaukee back-court.

It’s pretty clear that you have to mention Goran Dragic after every one of these games, since he truly hasn’t had a bad game. Some talked about Goran possibly having a tougher time with Eric Bledsoe matched up with him, but that was not the case. He pretty much did whatever he wanted to do on the court, since he was an absolute threat from deep, and also got to the basket at will using his usual backboard floater. Goran is the piece on this team that is looked to during tough stretches, since he always delivers. Hopefully he’s on these takeaway pieces for many games to come, and I have a feeling he will be.

#2: Heat’s bench group comes up big throughout, as they did in regular season.

The Miami Heat’s bench group struggled a bit shooting the ball in game one, which is very unusual. But, this wasn’t the case today since Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Kelly Olynyk made huge contributions offensively. This is what I mentioned previously about this team. The team does not run on the fact of Jimmy Butler’s scoring, it runs on the shooting of their supporting cast. Tyler Herro’s outstanding ability to score the ball during tough stretches was on full effect tonight. If the bench can continue to take the offensive load off of Jimmy, this will consequently make a much more effective Jimmy Butler.

#3: Jimmy reverts back to his usual role.

Jimmy Butler got a bit of a wrap, after game one against Milwaukee, that he is an unstoppable scorer. And well, that’s exactly what Jimmy wants people to think. He definitely has the ability to step up as a scorer for this team late, but he truly wants to be a facilitator that can get his teammates going. As he said before the game, “I hope it’s Goran tonight, I hope it’s Tyler, I hope it’s Duncan.” The reason he says that is because he knows the key to winning these games is to get those types of guys going, which is what he did. Jimmy also likes to let everyone know that he has his teammates back, when he pushed Wesley Matthews after a hard foul on Bam in the third quarter. That was and will always be Jimmy’s role, especially on this current Heat team.

#4: Miami slows down Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he powered through with the help of the officials.

It’s clear Giannis Antetokounmpo can not be fully stopped, since he’s an absolute offensive force. But, he can definitely be slowed down. He may get his points, but he has to work for them majorly. And by work for them, I mean running through the lane to constantly draw a foul. The officials were definitely generous for Giannis Antetokounmpo and others throughout, since there was zero leeway for Miami defenders to be physical. Giannis was able to thrive a bit more in the fourth quarter once Derrick Jones Jr entered the game for an injured Andre Iguodala. DJJ clearly isn’t big enough to guard Giannis, but made some scrappy plays which is what he usually does. If Miami is able to be a bit more physical with Giannis the rest of the series, it definitely favors the Heat. The officials ended up giving one call back to Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, which resulted in Jimmy Butler’s game winning free throws.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s impacted the game off the ball as much as he possibly could.

Bam Adebayo was such a presence throughout this game around the rim. On both sides of the ball, he was as scrappy as ever with his rebounding efforts. This may have a little something to do with the fact that he has been watching film and working on his rebounding with Heat’s veteran Udonis Haslem. But that’s not the only part of his game that he made an impact on. He was an outstanding screen setter throughout, as he usually is, but his ability to get guys free against this drop scheme proved to be very essential. It would be great for this Heat team if he’d be aggressive with the ball in his hands throughout, but Spo constantly reiterates that he wants Bam to play to his strengths instead.

 

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Dragic, Nunn

The Miami Heat talked with some media after practice again today, after their huge game one win over Milwaukee.  Goran Dragic talked about his relationship with his teammates, while Kendrick Nunn discussed his adjustment to his new role. Here’s what was said…

Post Practice Comment #1:

After Kendrick Nunn seems to have locked up the ninth man in the rotation, Erik Spoelstra touched on his importance. He said, “He’s been one of our most important players all season long.” He was pretty solid yesterday in game one scoring 6 points, but was a plus-8 in the game. And as talked about many times, if he can knock down some jumpers in this series, that may be the difference maker. Tyler Herro was the only player on the team for a stretch that utilized the mid-range, which is something Kendrick has done well all season. Goran praised Kendrick for adjusting to his new role, saying “We tell him, stay with it, we’re going to need you in the series.” Spo also mentioned how happy he is for Kendrick, saying “These are not easy circumstances…Covid is real.”

Post-Practice Comment #2:

When Goran Dragic was asked about yesterday’s game, he began with “We didn’t do anything yet.” He knows that although both him and Jimmy are playing at an elite level, the rest of their team hasn’t even gotten started. Goran mentioned that “This is the best basketball I’ve played in the playoffs.” He said he was a bit worried with the week layoff after the first round sweep, saying “I didn’t want to lose that consistency and everything.” Well, that hasn’t proved to be an issue after Goran put up 27 in game one. Not even that is enough for Goran and this Heat team, since he said they haven’t done anything yet.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

It’s clear that Goran Dragic is having the time of his life playing basketball this season. He reiterated that point after practice, saying “I’m just enjoying myself…I love my teammates. For me, it feels like I’m back with the national team.” This starts with his relationship with Jimmy Butler, who continue to improve their on-court play the longer they play together. And it’s a good thing Goran likes his teammates, since that’s all he has around him for this long stretch of time. Goran mentioned that both him and Jimmy will not have their families come to the bubble, since “It’s a business trip.” He followed that with “The focus is to win a championship,” and if they sustain their current play, there’s a possibility it could happen.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Kendrick Nunn talked about trying to adapt to his new role off of the bench. He started off saying that Spo told him heading into the series that he would be in the rotation, since he was a key contributor in the regular season wins against Milwaukee. Kendrick also touched on the difference between his starting role and rotational role. He said, “It’s a little bit different. Everything is more limited. You’ve got to pick and choose when to be aggressive.” Another part of the adjustment is that he’s playing with the bench unit, which he didn’t play much with all season. But as long as he gets back to his regular season self, which was a pure scorer, he will fit in with anybody. And like he said, “I’ve been able to get my rhythm back.”

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Kendrick Nunn spoke about the lineup that included him, Goran Dragic, and Tyler Herro that was used in game one. He said, “It gives us an advantage because obviously our speed kills. I love playing with two guards.” This lineup also benefits Kendrick since he doesn’t have to be the primary ball handler. He also seems to have a bit of a connection with Tyler Herro, since they played for a bit in summer league and throughout the regular season. Goran also discussed the three guard lineup, saying “All three of us can shoot the ball. It’s not tough because nobody is selfish on this team.” And obviously shooting will be needed as much as possible in this Bucks series, due to their defensive drop scheme.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Game 1 Win over Milwaukee

The Miami Heat played a much anticipated game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and came away with the win, 115-104. Miami definitely didn’t have a great shooting night, but Miami’s toughness overcame it behind Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler. Here are my five takeaways…

#1:Goran Dragic begins, Jimmy Butler finishes. 

Goran Dragic has pretty much been the Miami Heat’s bubble MVP thus far, since it seems as if he can’t have a bad game scoring the ball. Goran played a huge first half role for Miami, scoring 19 points on 75% shooting. And what was so special about this was that he was able to score at all three levels. He clearly is a three point threat, but really thrived in the mid-range area using his bank-shot floaters. Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, struggled in the first half with the ball in his hands, but got back to Playoff Jimmy status in the second half when he hit big shot after big shot in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 40 points, and went 2 for 2 from beyond the arc. Like I said before, this is officially Jimmy’s time.

#2: Miami forces Milwaukee turnovers, which led to fast-break opportunities.

Miami has been the one team in the NBA that was able to disrupt Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks this season. And though they were unable to disrupt them in the first quarter, they began to force turnover after turnover in the second quarter. Not only did they get a bunch of steals, but every one of those led to a basket on the other end. Some have talked about Miami slowing the game down a bit against this team, but on a night that their offense is struggling, it seemed essential to get the ball and run on the break.

#3: Surprisingly, Miami’s paint work against Milwaukee was utilized more than their perimeter shooting tonight, which will ultimately lead to more threes.

It’s been talked about over and over that Miami’s shooting would look to expose Milwaukee’s drop scheme in the series, since it allows so may threes. But it was actually the complete opposite. Guys like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Goran Dragic were able to attack the basket pretty effectively, which was a great sign for Miami. It did seem as if Milwaukee didn’t drop as much as usual, since they were very aware of Miami’s dribble hand-off scheme, which resulted in Duncan Robinson attempting one shot in the first half. If Miami can get their usual elite shooting going for the rest of the series, along with their penetration abilities, it makes an interesting series.

#4: Bam Adebayo plays much different role than he did in Indiana series.

Bam Adebayo didn’t have much of a scoring role against the Indiana Pacers in the first round, but he had such a huge impact in the series through his play-making and defensive abilities. Today though, he seemed to have a major role on offense around the rim, which as mentioned previously, was not expected since they pack the paint. Bam Adebayo also had the task of guarding (MVP candidate) Giannis Antetokounmpo, which he did as good of a job as you could possibly do against him. Bam also attempted some mid-range jumpers that were given to him, but they didn’t fall. Except for a clutch late game jumper after an exceptional jab step on Marvin Williams. If he can get some jumpers to fall, that not only opens up the floor for him, but also the rest of the team.

#5: Miami must prioritize slowing down Buck’s primary players, including Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Lopez.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez seemed to be Milwaukee’s only source of offense. Their supporting cast didn’t provide much offense, but they didn’t seem to need to at times, since their stars took the whole offensive load and thrived. Brook Lopez was a plus-30 in their three regular season games against Miami this season, and today he provided his scoring side. It’s pretty clear you’re not going to totally stop Giannis, which means it may be of their best interest to shut down Khris Middleton. This is something we saw Miami start to do in the second half, which ultimately helped them. It’ll be interesting to see some other schemes Coach Erik Spoelstra uses against this Milwaukee Bucks team.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Nail-Biting Win Over Pacers

The Miami Heat played yet another tough game against the Indiana Pacers in game 3, but came away with the win 124-115. This game was clearly a tale of two halves, since Miami dominated in the first half, but let the game get away from them in the second. Here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: If Miami shoots the way they did in the first half, they’re a tough team to beat.

Miami had one of those halves that Heat fans have seen quite a lot this season, which was an absolute three point shooting display. They’re clearly one of the best teams when they are hitting their shots, but when their shots aren’t falling, they struggle getting their offense going. The second half was a perfect example of this, when it seemed to be the complete opposite of the first half. Dragic had 4 first half threes, while Crowder, Herro, and Robinson each had two first half threes. This led Miami to 74 first half points, which was a playoff record. If Miami can withhold their elite shooting for 48 minutes, they’ll be tough to beat.

#2: Goran Dragic hot streak continues.

It feels like Goran is included in every one of these takeaway piece, because he has been. He continues to be an elite offensive presence for Miami, while scoring from all three levels. And though he has a great connection with teammate Jimmy Butler, his best play has come with the second unit. This is obviously because they’ve built up a great amount of chemistry throughout the season when he came off the bench. Goran played 14 of the first 17 minutes of the game, which is interesting considering his age. It seems as if Spo is giving him these minutes, so he can bring Jimmy back in mid-way through the second quarter for him. Miami needs one of either Goran or Jimmy on the floor at all times, and it seems as if Spo has recognized this as well.

#3: Bam Adebayo obviously isn’t a natural scorer, but his on-court impact is crucial.

Bam Adebayo has struggled scoring the ball through the first few playoff games, but that’s because he hasn’t gone to his strengths on offense. Bam displayed it in the first quarter, taking Myles Turner off the dribble. He has continued to struggle with his back to the basket, but when he gets a full head of steam, he’s hard to stop. But what makes Bam so impactful is everything else. His back-door passing, screen setting, and defensive presence was on full display. He may not give you a bunch of blocks, but he will force a bunch of missed shots, both around the rim and on the perimeter. And his ability to take the center out of the paint and make tight back door passes off of cuts may have won them this game. As of right now, this side of his game seems to translate more to wins than his scoring, which is why Spoelstra is so supportive of the way he plays.

#4: Miami will need to clean up turnovers in order to beat a team like Milwaukee.

Miami had more turnovers than field goals made in the third quarter. Let that sink in. Part of it is due to the scrappiness of Indiana on the defensive end. But another part of it is some costly errors from Miami’s stars, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Obviously turnovers will occur since both of these guys have major play-making tasks, but it is essential to clean this up a bit. Jimmy seems to try and force passes out to the three when he drives to the basket, and Bam seems to pick up his dribble on the perimeter at times. But, this is definitely something that can be fixed, especially since Coach Spo has mentioned taking care of the ball a lot over the past week.

#5: Tyler Herro clearly doesn’t shy away from big moments.

Tyler Herro scored 20 points in only his third playoff game, shooting 6-12 from the field. Although he seemed to be taking the role of a play-maker in the eight regular season games, he has now reverted back to the natural scorer he was mid-season. And as of right now, Miami needs the offensively hungry Tyler Herro. Although he’s a threat from beyond the arc, his ability to control the mid-range adds another aspect to their offense. He has led the team in fourth quarter minutes this season, and there’s been no change for the playoffs since he’s apart of the team’s closing lineup with Dragic, Butler, Iguodala, and Adebayo. And even with Jimmy Butler on the floor, Tyler seems to be Miami’s biggest threat late in games.