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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Brooklyn

The Miami Heat take down the Brooklyn Nets on a game winning jumper from Bam Adebayo. That one shot basically washed away everyone of these takeaways in terms of importance, but take a look at five takeaways from this game….

#1: Early Dewayne Dedmon minutes, effective Dewayne Dedmon minutes.

Something that wasn’t originally expected today was to see an abundance of Dewayne Dedmon throughout, especially immediately when Bam Adebayo exited. For starters, he gave Miami something that they’ve continually missed in a back-up big, which is consistency. Not consistency over a period of games, but consistency in his role. Precious Achiuwa has been a guy that you didn’t know what you were going to get on any given night, but Dedmon’s role was clear as soon as he checked in. A very smart rebounder, meaning he knows how to box out correctly and knows how to use his length to his advantage. The offensive boards was a particular area of strength, giving Miami extra opportunities, but he also showcased an ability to alter shots at the rim, which is quite the attribute for their back-up big spot.

#2: Trevor Ariza giving Miami the same thing every single game.

Not to harp on the adjective consistency too much, but that’s probably Trevor Ariza’s most unexpected attribute this early in his insertion. He is now giving Miami the same thing every game on the offensive end, since the defensive side of the ball was a given from the first game on. He’s shooting the ball very well, filling in the one thing Andre Iguodala minutes have missed at times, trusting the corner three kick-out. He’s also a pretty underrated passer, which is just a proponent of his IQ, which is something Jimmy Butler harped on recently when I asked him about Ariza’s defensive presence. And if the supporting cast elevates back into their usual offensive selves while Ariza keeps this up, it makes them a different team.

#3: Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn stepping up early…..in the game together.

Trevor Ariza wasn’t the only one to score 11 points in the first half, since Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn put up that exact stat-line. Dragic really needed this type of scoring stretch early, so he can get back into his usual trust levels in his jumper, since that’s the element he will have to rely on while age increases by the day. Nunn also looked good early, particularly as a deep threat as well, which is an interesting topic with Nunn. He’s been plugged into a starting point guard role for some time, running PnR’s, pulling up from mid-range, and getting to the basket, but he actually looks most comfortable when he can shoot on spot-ups when others attack. The surprising element with these two as well is that they’re doing it on the floor together, since that duo tandem struggled a lot last season. And due to Erik Spoelstra’s sudden urge to roll out 3 guard lineups, Dragic and Nunn clicking is crucial.

#4: The obvious observation: Miami’s offense clicking, but missing one thing….Jimmy Butler.

Miami’s shooting was off the charts for a good portion of this game, and that’s been something that hasn’t been a strength of theirs to this point. Now, it’s great when it is clicking, but when a dry spell occurs, it becomes a lot of looking around for an attacker that they don’t have, leading to Andre Iguodala pull-ups. It goes unsaid, but that’s where Jimmy Butler comes into play, or better yet, Victor Oladipo. There have been some pieces of reporting that have pointed toward Oladipo returning sometime this season, and when that type of attacking gets inserted into this type of shooting, that elevates Miami to an Eastern Conference threat. But for now, it’s all about awaiting the occasional Dragic drive-by or Herro open layup off of a cut.

#5: Miami doesn’t have that one player takeover, but playing incredible team ball through passing.

When the team is without Butler, it’s pretty clear that they were going to have to play team basketball to compete, or Bam Adebayo fully stepping up like he did against Brooklyn earlier in the season. They went the team ball route, assisting on a good portion of their field goal makes throughout. To that point, the unselfishness of this team automatically means ball flow is fluid throughout, sometimes too much. But that is what basically sustained that type of offense, that usually completely falls off of a cliff as the game progresses. The Heat were in need of a game like this that they can build off of, and most importantly, instill confidence in Butler that this team is capable of battling with the best of them.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over Indiana

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

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

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

#2: Shooting roller coaster continues for Miami.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Breakdown of Goran Dragic’s Fourth Quarter Display

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.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Bulls

The Miami Heat took down the Chicago Bulls late, after a rough offensive first half. While Jimmy Butler controlled throughout, Goran Dragic stepped up late to pull them away. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Rough overall offensive flow in first half, except when Jimmy Butler has the ball.

It’s a similar theme every single night, since the offensive production heavily decreases when Jimmy Butler exits the floor. But tonight was much different, since there was absolutely nothing being generated when he was off the floor. Pretty decent ball-movement on the perimeter leading to contested three-point attempts, which mostly clanked off the rim. We can discuss Miami’s three point shooting being bad as of late, but there just has to be an alternative. Attacking the basket off the dribble should be utilized a lot on nights like this, but the personnel just doesn’t allow them to do that. Goran Dragic seems a step slow at times to completely get downhill consistently, while Tyler Herro just doesn’t seem to have that in his arsenal at the current stage.

#2: Kendrick Nunn seems to be the only comfortable role player.

While guys like Dragic and Herro seemed a bit out of whack in the first half tonight, Kendrick Nunn actually appeared to be the complete opposite. Even when offense is stagnant, he finds ways to generate offense for himself, which is the most important thing right now. He got to the mid-range early, and knocked down two nice looking triples to bail Miami out of empty possessions. Once again, talking about Nunn in this fashion is much different compared to a couple months ago. He’s become a consistent figure for this team, who is much more comfortable in different spots throughout the game to keep the team flowing into efficient offense. Playing in his hometown of Chicago aside, he has done this every single night since being inserted into the starting lineup, which has mostly translated to wins.

#3: Chris Silva inserted into the game before Precious Achiuwa.

Although Chris Silva and Precious Achiuwa played the same amount of minutes in the first half, which was a whopping 3 minutes each, it was quite interesting to see Silva get thrown in first. Since Bam Adebayo was out again, it seemed like it would be Achiuwa’s first chance to get some increased run at the NBA level, but somehow that didn’t happen. Now, on a night Miami struggled offensively, it wasn’t like Achiuwa would fix that majorly, but Silva essentially gives you the same exact thing. The pick and roll seemed worthless early on, but Achiuwa had a nice finish on a lob as soon as he checked in, which makes this decision very interesting. There might be more to this continued decision, but the overall trust level has surprisingly decreased since the beginning of the season. Coach Spo went to Silva in the second half as well, and he gave them some quality minutes as they made their fourth quarter run.

#4: Kelly Olynyk stepping into Bam Adebayo’s role yet again.

Kelly Olynyk has been a real bright spot in the games Bam Adebayo has missed, mostly since he’s been utilized in a different way than usual. Instead of being the offensive floor spacer, he has actually been the guy they work their offense through on the perimeter. And since he’s playing that role, the play-making abilities have continued to be on display. Not just through the constant action where there’s an off-ball screen for Butler leading to a lob, but also finding cutters when he’s in the post. As I discussed earlier, the offense looked very rough throughout the night, and without Olynyk generating offense when Butler wasn’t on the ball, it could’ve looked a lot worse.

#5: Goran Dragic gets hot in the fourth after tough first half.

The overall consensus in the first half when the offensive struggles occurred was when Goran Dragic would step up per usual, or if he would ever step up. Everybody’s always awaiting that stretch where he tails off a bit due to his age, but just as that showed for some time, it all turned around. Yet again, Dragic did what he does best late in the game, which is bailing the team out when they need it most. Hitting much needed triples, as well as getting to the rim consistently to generate offense for others. The non-Butler minutes will continue to get harped on due to the clear fall-off that occurs when he exits, but if Dragic can sustain it while Adebayo is out, the team will be in good shape.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over Pelicans

The Miami Heat finished off the first half of the regular season with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, getting them to .500 before the All-Star break. A late-game Jimmy Butler takeover led to Miami pulling away, and an Andre Iguodala slam sealed it under a minute to go. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: The Kelly Olynyk show early on.

As I’ve discussed many times in the past, Kelly Olynyk finds himself on one of these takeaway pieces once every few games, since he always has that one breakout game where he can’t miss. And well, that game was tonight. The scoring obviously must be noted first, since he exploded early on, scoring 13 points in the first quarter while the entire Pelicans team scored 15. As I noted before the game, Olynyk was going to have an advantage on the perimeter against the Pelicans’ drop coverage, especially since Steven Adams was dropping. And as expected, he had plenty of open opportunities to begin the game. Instead of discussing his scoring tonight, his passing must be mentioned as well. With Bam Adebayo out, they missed the facilitator in the middle of the offense who can hit back-door cutters in stride, but Olynyk became that guy quickly with high arcing passes time and time again for Miami’s offensive flow.

#2: A smooth running offense is the Jimmy Butler effect.

Coach Erik Spoelstra mentioned after Miami’s strong first quarter that the spacing was looking good. And the reason for that was Jimmy Butler, plain and simple. The last game against the Atlanta Hawks proved that offense can’t flow without a downhill presence and their primary play-maker, in Butler, which bounced back as soon as the ball was tipped. Other than his effortless 11 points in the first half, his 7 assists in that span speak major volume. Miami began to get into their drive and kicks once again, which allowed even more open threes for guys like Olynyk, due to the drop coverage collapsing completely on Butler when attacking. The offense was running quite smoothly on a night without Bam Adebayo, which pretty much proves the amount of impact Butler can have just by his presence.

#3: Precious Achiuwa getting thrown in the fire off the bench, blending in quite perfectly.

It’s not easy to be a starter from middle school to high school to college, then get thrown into the NBA without a Summer League and get placed into a bench role. But well, that’s been the situation for Precious Achiuwa this season, and the adaptation he’s made to that role continues to be very impressive. As soon as he enters the game, his presence is felt as a constant energy and rim runner, while putting major emphasis on runner since he never stops moving. Another thing is that he is totally locked in on his individual job as a screener and roller, while never straying off into other areas in a fast paced game, which most young players tend to do. That point right there highlights his mindset and focus to understand who he is as a player and what benefits the team, and that continued bench role benefits this Heat team majorly.

#4: The natural KZ Okpala roller coaster game.

There’s a lot to dive into when discussing the young career of KZ Okpala. He’s had a few stints throughout the season, and the same negatives and positives continue to pop out. On the negative side of things, the lack of playing time has led to his hesitance in the offense. Almost every time he receives the ball, he doesn’t even almost look toward the rim to try and score. Now, that has a lot to do with just trying to fit in, instead of playing in a free and natural way. But although he may think that unselfish play will lead to increased playing time, it may be the complete opposite. That takes us to the positives in his game, which always come when he avoids that hesitance. The third quarter showed that when he came out immediately and shot a contested three, which although it missed, it’s clear coaches or players got in his ear about it. That led to a very impressive side-step three in the corner, and a nice up and under layup in a solid spurt on both ends, which showcases an expected roller coaster on a nightly basis when he takes the floor.

#5: The non-Butler minutes a worry without Adebayo, which leads to more Dragic.

Non-Jimmy Butler minutes and Goran Dragic pretty much go hand in hand. He’s always been the trusted guy to keep his unit afloat while Butler takes a breather, which is what he did early in the fourth tonight once again. Three-pointer to mid-range jumper to getting to the free throw line. He’s a guy that has been incredibly good at finding mismatches, which is even easier to do against this Pelicans team. On a night that Tyler Herro struggled again, Dragic was going to be needed to get downhill and generate offense, and he did just that. Crafty pump-fakes and footwork around the rim when the defense collapsed, occurred possession after possession. There’s only so much that he can do in those non-Butler spurts, but it’s very promising to continue to see him step up in those spots, then handing the keys back over to Butler to close. And well, he took the keys and drove this team all the way home.

A Breakdown of Goran Dragic’s Offensive Impact

Goran Dragic’s second game back from his injury proved his overall importance for this Heat team. He shouldn’t be looked at as a 34 year old veteran, but instead the one piece that makes the entire offense flow.

So, here’s a look into what Dragic did well in their win over the Utah Jazz.

– Controlling the mid-range

Tyler Herro being out and Kendrick Nunn fading slowly away from his mid-range game means Dragic needed to find those spots more often. And that’s exactly what he did.

On this play, he ran the usual pick and roll with Bam Adebayo, while pulling up immediately against the favorable drop coverage. If Miami didn’t have Dragic to find these dead-spots throughout the game, they wouldn’t have sustained their lead, since Miami made it essential to get to the rim early in the game.

Once he began to set the tone on plays like this, easy opportunities from beyond the arc began to open up for the role players.

– Well, his legs are back.

When a veteran player returns from an injury, the jumper is usually a bit of a worry right away since it takes some time to get your legs back under you. But, it didn’t take Dragic much time to get back to normal.

These two plays in the second quarter prove that to be true, and it also shows the importance of his three point shot for a guy like Duncan Robinson. There haven’t been many consistent three point shooters lately, other than Kendrick Nunn, which is why both Dragic and Herro returning is so important for the overall success of Miami’s offense.

Dragic is a three level scorer, who can get to any of the three levels when he really wants to, which will be displayed next.

– Finding his spots on the court

As mentioned previously, being a three level scorer is one thing, but getting to any of the three levels consistently is when that label is truly important.

The way Dragic can control his defender on the drive is truly like no other. On the first play, he cuts off Donovan Mitchell when getting downhill, while Mitchell switches to the roller. Dragic noticing his only defender is Derrick Favors deep in the paint, he fades away for an easy bucket.

The second play is similar, except Dragic utilizes a snake dribble when Mitchell switches, and goes right into a floater over the top of Favors with zero hesitation. Once again, this type of offense is what Miami has been missing majorly.

– Setting up the offense

It’s never an easy offense to dissect when Rudy Gobert is the one you’re facing in the drop coverage, but Bam Adebayo found a way. He found the spots slightly away from the rim to force Gobert to edge away from the rim.

The reason Dragic is being highlighted here is due to the overall situation. Miami has missed a guy to set up offense while Butler is off the floor, and that’s exactly what he did. Nunn has improved majorly as a play-maker, but there’s still a difference between a good passer and setting up offense.

Dragic finding Adebayo and others in their spots during these minutes were essential for Miami sustaining a close score before Butler returned.

– The thing Miami has missed most

And finally, the third level of being a three level scorer. There’s a difference between a guy that can get to the rim and score, like Tyler Herro, and a guy who will take it right at your chest at the basket for an easy layup, like Goran Dragic.

As I’ve mentioned many times, the Heat have missed that on-ball guy who can explode to the basket and get downhill in situations that it’s truly necessary. And in the fourth quarter, it was truly necessary.

On the first play, he took it right up on the best rim protector in the NBA, leading to a not so easy bucket. A few minutes later, he explodes by Joe Ingles and takes it up on the rotating Gobert once again, except this one was a tad bit easier.

Once Miami has a fully healthy roster, the offensive spacing will look better and better, meaning Dragic can get to the rim more and more while Butler gets some rest on the sideline.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Raptors

The Miami Heat beat the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night to expand their winning streak to 4 games. Jimmy Butler’s late game offensive showing kept Miami afloat down the stretch. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Goran Dragic returns, and hasn’t skipped a beat.

Goran Dragic surprisingly returned on Wednesday night from his injury, and looked as if he missed absolutely no time at all. Dragic’s impact is not through the amount of points that he scores, but actually the moments that he scores. He has always been able to read offensive situations to get into certain sets when most needed, which happened early on by attacking the basket. Miami has missed his dribble penetration lately, since they haven’t had many ball-handlers who can attack with Dragic and Tyler Herro out. The more Dragic got to the rim, the more opportunities opened up for shooters on the perimeter for wide open triples. The Heat have struggled finding any type of offensive rhythm, but the 34 year old veteran can fix that upon arrival.

#2: Miami’s offense and defense clicking on the same night.

Miami had some impressive offensive games early in the season, while showcasing a strong defensive presence lately. But there hasn’t been a night that both have been displayed. Well, until this game. This was going to be a defensive battle no matter what between these two teams, and Coach Erik Spoelstra sprinkled in some defensive things to really boost Miami. Trapping full-court, spurts of 2-3 zone, and more. But Miami’s offense showing an impressive flow throughout against this gritty Toronto team speaks volume. Duncan Robinson hitting some threes early on propelled that, while other role players stepped up in their respective areas. This was the first night the Miami Heat’s true selves were shown.

#3: Bam Adebayo battled on the boards early on, impacting the game in every area per usual.

Bam Adebayo is discussed on a nightly basis in these takeaway pieces, but he must be noted in a different light tonight. In a game that Toronto utilizes a bit of small ball to display all-around quickness, Adebayo had to be felt on the boards. In the first half alone, he grabbed 10 rebounds, while 5 of them being on the offensive end. Creating extra opportunities for others on tip outs and things of that nature truly add up for this team, since extra shot attempts do the job for a struggling offense. Aron Baynes taking a lesser role for the Raptors meant Adebayo had some unique match-ups with physical wings, like OG Anunoby, guarding him on the defensive end. While that could mean trouble at times when he tries to stretch the floor, he read the situation to make his presence felt in the paint.

#4: Andre Iguodala plays his peak offensive role.

Defensive trapping, grabbing rebounds, and facilitating the offense wasn’t enough for Andre Iguodala tonight, since he brought the one element of his game that has been a little iffy at times. The three point shot was falling tonight at a good rate, which is the part of his game that can maximize the overall efficiency of this Miami Heat team. Miami needs Iguodala out there on the floor in a lot of situations, but lineups he plays next to Adebayo and Butler limits offensive spacing. But if the corner triple can be relied on, it changes the entire formation of Miami’s rotation at the moment. A season high on triples for Iguodala may not confirm sustainability, but it is still a great sign that it is in there somewhere.

#5: Gabe Vincent gives a great overall performance, but Miami is one attacker off with bench unit.

Tyler Herro being out tonight once again is a product of less dribble penetration, even though it was majorly boosted with Dragic returning. There were many moments where Miami’s offense began to show flashes of the past, with a lot of ball movement for jumpers, instead of putting the ball on the floor and attacking. Gabe Vincent had a good night battling on the defensive end, as well as hitting those three pointers that he hasn’t lately. But he’s just not the attacker who can run pick and rolls to control the pacing with Dragic. Herro can definitely fix that, which makes Miami’s bench back-court so anticipated. When Adebayo, Butler, and company get to the rim efficiently, it leads to the natural flow of their offense many have been awaiting.

A Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic Breakdown Against Toronto

Kendrick Nunn was the story of the night yesterday for the Miami Heat. He got yet another opportunity and scored an efficient 28 points, while getting 8 boards and 5 assists. Goran Dragic was second on the team in points with 17, but truly showed out with his impact that will be shown here.

Here’s a look at these two against Toronto last night…

Goran Dragic:

– Running Multi-Option Set

This offensive set seen above is clearly something that makes a defense uncomfortable. Goran Dragic has the ball in his hands, Duncan Robinson slips off of a pick to the three point line, Bam Adebayo rolls to the basket for a lob, and Goran can attack the basket. The defense becomes so focused on all of this movement, that it leaves Kelly Olynyk wide open in the opposite corner, which is the 4th option for Goran in this set. This is something you will continue to see with this personnel, since it allows each player’s strength to be utilized. And there’s nobody on this team you want running this other than Goran Dragic.

– Reading the Defense 

Reading the defender is a great skill to have in a one-on-one match-up, but it takes it to a whole other level when you read the defenders of your teammates. On this play, Goran runs a pick and roll with Kelly Olynyk, and he notices Fred VanVleet slightly turn his body toward the roller. Duncan Robinson then edges up slightly to the wing, while the pass has already been made from Dragic, leading to a three. Those are the small parts of Goran’s game that are so impressive, since his overall feel is just great.

– Gravity Moving Down-Hill

The word gravity is usually linked with Duncan Robinson on this Heat team, but Goran meets the criteria of it as well. As Goran drives to the basket here, you can see that all eyes turn right to him under the basket. VanVleet went for the double as he attacked, leaving one defender on the other side guarding Vincent and Olynyk. Kelly immediately cut to the basket for an easy layup. That is the definition of gravity, since the defense has to go for that double team, due to the fact that Goran probably would’ve scored at the basket if it was one-on-one.

– Reverse Late-Game Offense

This doesn’t really fall under the criteria of Goran Dragic’s game being broken down, but it still needs to be noted. We basically see a reversed offensive set, since the center is dribbling the ball down the floor breaking down his defender, while the point guard stands in the corner. Bam Adebayo drives to the basket two consecutive plays late in the fourth, both ending in the same result: a left corner Goran Dragic three. It puts so much pressure on opposing teams for a big man to be the primary play-maker and ball-handler late in games, which makes Bam so unique as a player.

Kendrick Nunn:

– Hitting Passing Lanes

Kendrick Nunn’s defense has been a struggle for him, since he hasn’t been great on defense individually or in pick and roll situations. But one thing he has consistently been good at this far into his career is hitting passing lanes. He’s clearly quick, but his timing defensively allows him to be good in that area. And as seen here, it’s useful since it usually ends up in 2 points on the other end of the floor. If he can make up for his sruggles in other areas like this, it makes him much more trustworthy.

– Scoring from all Three Levels

The first clip shown above with Kendrick Nunn is something that is great to see him do, but it’s unknown if it will be consistent. Pull-up three pointers in transition won’t always fall, but what he can rely on is what is seen in the second clip. Kendrick finding his spots on the offensive side of the ball is one of the most important things for him, and his most comfortable area is the mid-range on a pull-up. In that clip, he’s patient with the ball in his hands, waiting for Bam to come set the screen, leading to an easy jumper in that area discussed.

– Confidence to Play-Maker

When people think of Kendrick Nunn with confidence, they think of him as a scorer, but I think there’s much more to that. His confidence last night was clear, and so was his play-making abilities. The clip above is one example of many in which he made some great reads leading to lobs or easy opportunities, and as seen there, I don’t think he makes that pass unless he has his offense going. Body language was apparent yesterday for Kendrick, and it’s much needed for his success on this team. But if he can continue to improve as a passer, as seen last night, it makes his role on this team much easier to be plugged in.

– Attacking Equals Rotation Insertion

Of course it’s great to see K-Nunn shooting the ball like he did last night, but there’s a good chance it’s not sustainable. Those shots will not be falling every night, but his ability to attack the rim will give him plenty of opportunities moving forward. Teams know that his mid-range is something he looks to get to, which means defenders play high on him when he gets downhill. This then puts them out of position for a straight line drive to the basket for a layup, and this is when his confidence can be built up for the jumpers to fall. There are a lot of elements to Kendrick’s offensive game that were impressive last night, but while some talk about the consistency, Nunn is talking about the minutes.

A Breakdown of Miami’s Second Half Struggles Vs Detroit

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

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

– Defensive Awareness

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

– Duncan Denial

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

– Stagnant Offense Turns Into Forced Offense

 

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

– Turnovers to Points

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

– Poor Spacing Leads to Poor Shots

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

– No Initiative 

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

– Poor Defensive Execution

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

Who Is Gabe Vincent Trying to Learn From?

Gabe Vincent is one of the more interesting names on this Heat team right now, since they’re currently down to eight players due to the Covid protocols.

And he had a very promising performance on Tuesday night, scoring 24 points while showcasing his overall offensive package.

But who has been the biggest contributor to the development of Gabe Vincent on this Heat team?

Well, that would be Heat’s veteran guard Goran Dragic.

Before the season started, Gabe said, “I’ve learned a lot from Goran…I hang out with Goran off the court at times and I look up to him.”

A couple days later, Goran discussed his time spent with Vincent, saying “He’s a great player…I’m expecting good things from him.”

Now, Goran taking Gabe under his wing speaks major volume. That’s because Goran would not just mentor a random G-League player if he didn’t actually see something in him.

I asked Gabe Vincent following Tuesday’s game about Goran’s message to him heading into this match-up where he would be seeing the floor a lot.

He mentioned that he had a text from him on his phone that he hadn’t checked yet. He followed that saying “Me and Goran have gotten really close. I’m picking his brain any chance I can get.”

The main takeaway from Vincent’s performance was that he’s not just the typical shooter. He had a chance to showcase his defensive abilities, as well as an advanced way to navigate to the basket. And when discussing creativity when attacking the rim, it almost seems as if Goran could’ve played a role in that development.

Gabe also said that he was looking forward to talking to Goran after the game, so he can get his opinion on the things he saw, and things he can get better at.

I think everybody is aware that the consensus of this team is accountability. And that begins with relationships in the locker room with mentor-ship.

It’s great that Vincent can use these games to continue to develop, since there’s a good chance he can end up playing a legitimate role on this Heat team going forward.