On a night that Miami’s offense struggled the way that it did, I didn’t think I’d be discussing that side of the ball in a breakdown article today in a positive way. But well, then Goran Dragic happened.
Jimmy Butler carried the load for most of the game, but a fourth quarter explosion from Dragic, scoring 20 points, led Miami to a win. So, let’s take a dive into that late-game offensive spurt.
– Pull-up triples
After Dragic went scoreless in the first half, he got into a bit of a rhythm late in the second half. Pull-up threes have been a part of Miami’s offense that not only struggled last night, but all season.
The Heat have always been a team that works drive and kicks in transition or straight up pull-ups from deep. On this play, the Bulls defense is scrambling, while two bigs are at the forefront of stopping the ball. Dragic noticing this, immediately pulls up from the top of the key in rhythm, which is exactly the type of shot that can spark his game.
Another thing to note is the arc on his shot on this play. You usually can tell the way Dragic shot is going to drop, due to the fact he has a high arcing shot, which usually drops in, or if he misses will bounce around the rim a few times. But when he’s off like he was in the first half, it just comes down to a flat-footed or straight on jumper.
– Offensive actions for Dragic
Even though it wasn’t a normal night for Dragic early on, the team could tell the way it was trending, since even Butler told him to takeover late. And as seen here, it’s more of those non-Butler minutes, which means the ball must be in Dragic’s hands to create offense.
On this possession, Miami flows immediately into a double screen for Dragic, giving him just enough space to pull. It seems like Patrick Williams read the scouting report on him, since he tried to angle inside to cut off a mid-range jumper. One thing about Dragic is that he always takes advantage of younger players who still are adjusting to the NBA level, which leads to an immediate change into a three pointer.
It’s not ideal to run constant offensive sets for your 34 year old veteran when Butler is off the floor, since Tyler Herro should be the guy at times taking over that role, but on a night that he had it absolutely rolling, it doesn’t seem necessary to discuss.
– The downhill Dragic effect
There are a couple layers to this play all together. For one, Miami has truly lacked a second guy who can put pressure on the rim consistently, and although the jumper was most linked with Dragic last night, the driving led to that.
But take a look at the Bulls’ defense on this play. Every player has their eyes on the scorching Goran Dragic, especially Denzel Valentine. Duncan Robinson notices this and sinks to the corner to be aligned with the ball. Dragic makes the right read to pass out to the corner, while Valentine closes out, and Robinson nails a very tough corner triple.
It’s usually Butler who is making those plays on drive and kicks, which is why Dragic is so important even when shots aren’t dropping. Also, that Robinson jumper is probably one of his most effective shots, since when he catches it higher, the better the release.
– Veteran moves
As I mentioned previously, there’s just something about Dragic when he’s guarded by inexperienced players. He just knows how to keep them where he wants, allowing him to get to his favorite spots.
On this play, Dragic and Chris Silva run a pick and roll, while Dragic utilizes a snake dribble to slide over. He does that to keep Coby White on his hip, or better yet his back, but White somehow recovered. He flows into a turnaround mid-range jumper with zero hesitation, which basically solidified this incredible offensive run.
Although Wendell Carter was doing his job to contain, it seemed like he was overestimating the offensive abilities of Chris Silva, since he was a bit too worried about him on the baseline. Dragic took advantage of that indecisiveness for a very tough bucket.
– More sets for the Dragon
Before diving into more of Dragic’s play, Silva’s understanding of the offensive and defensive scheme must be noted. He hasn’t had much run at the NBA level, but his dedication in practices have heavily carried over to games, since he was in the right spot basically every possession, which is the one downfall of KZ Okpala.
Anyway, Butler just checked back in at this point, which made the defense question if they would go to the hot Goran Dragic or the semi-unstoppable Jimmy Butler. Dragic curls off of an off-ball screen from Silva, and Butler immediately fed him the ball for an easy floater.
This is another example of the Bulls not really knowing much about Silva as a player, since they were constantly reluctant to step up on Dragic since they didn’t want to leave Silva’s side. It was a major reason for Dragic’s fourth quarter explosion.
– The definition of a tough shot
There are some plays where you can point to offensive reads or a slight pump-fake, but there are also times when it’s just a very tough shot that ends up dropping.
On this possession, it’s another pick and roll, this time from the corner, and Dragic gets to the mid-range and pulls with White right in his face. There’s nothing else to really point to with Dragic here, other than the fact that he was just in an incredible rhythm.
Also, take a look at Butler on this play. He starts on the opposite wing, and begins to walk towards the rim. Not to get the ball to score, but to try and get a rebound. He knew Dragic was shooting that shot as soon as he got the ball in the corner, especially since he was the one who told him to take initiative.
– The biggest change from half to half
One of Dragic’s biggest strengths is his ability to find and attack mismatches on bigger or slower defenders. He got the Lauri Markkanen switch many times in the first half, but he seemed a step too slow each time, leading to contested three-pointers.
But when he got that switch in the second half, it was a completely different story, since he did what he has done his entire Miami Heat career. In the first clip, everybody cleared for him to take it to his strong side, and he went into his signature behind the back cross, stopping Markkanen in his tracks and knocking down the jumper.
The second clip was the same exact shot he was attempting in the first half, except this one had much more bounce and a lot higher arc. That combination right there for Dragic usually leads to many positive outcomes, which is exactly what that fourth quarter was.