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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Late Loss to OKC

The Miami Heat fell short to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-115. This game did not carry much importance for Miami, which is why Miami sat their star players in the second half. Here are 5 takeaways from this game…

#1: Duncan Robinson needs much more than a hand in his face to be stopped.

Duncan Robinson put on another three point shooting display on Wednesday night, which is definitely nothing new. Duncan scored 19 points in the first half with 5 threes. He was such an issue for the Thunder’s defense that Chris Paul began to try and get under Duncan’s skin. It’s hard to disrupt a focused Duncan Robinson, especially when you have a leader like Jimmy Butler on the floor who has your back. This was the first game of the bubble that the opposite team didn’t totally key on Duncan, which is why he flourished tonight. Teams are going to have to continue to blanket Duncan in order to have a chance, and that’s when he will need to display his on-ball skills that he showcased against Phoenix.

#2: Bam Adebayo’s early foul trouble may become problematic.

Bam Adebayo had three quick first quarter fouls to start today’s game, which also occurred a few games against the Milwaukee Bucks. Bam Adebayo talked about what he thinks Spo should do in these circumstances and said if the offense is flowing leave him out, but if not then put him in. And well, this is what happened tonight when Bam got his third foul. The offense was clicking as good as it has all season, which is why they kept him on the bench. This is something to keep an eye on as we approach the playoffs, since Miami can’t risk having Bam out of the game for extended minutes. This is the type of thing that could change a playoff game, but fouls are going to come up with an aggressive defender like Bam.

#3: Goran Dragic still rolling offensively.

Goran Dragic got the start yet again with Kendrick Nunn out, and continued to be lethal. Goran entering the starting lineup seemed to hurt the bench unit a bit last game, since there was no floor general to take control of the offense. But, this problem definitely didn’t occur with the starting lineup. The starting lineup with Goran at the point seems to flow much smoother, due to the offensive connection of Jimmy and Goran. They both have a winning mentality and trust each other with the ball in their hands, which is why Spo has continued to try and play them together. Goran scored 16 points in 20 minutes of play, along with six assists. He’s the type of guy that can do the small things offensively, and consequently win you some playoff games.

#4. Miami’s ball movement seemed smooth throughout.

Miami’s shooting has continued to be lethal from the outside, but it’s because of the play-making set ups. The ball movement in the first half was what put the Heat in such great position. Pick and rolls, fast-breaks, swinging around the key for a three. It was all on display tonight. Goran was at the forefront of this passing display, but even guys like Duncan Robinson were making passes that they usually don’t make. It may be a match-up that they like on defense which forced them to make quick passes. But, it seems as if it’s just an increase in comfortability. This team contains some of the most unselfish players in the league, which is the biggest proponent of solid ball movement. This will be essential in a first round match-up with the Indiana Pacers, who seem to be a bit banged up.

#5: Tyler Herro forming more and more into a fluid scorer.

All of the pure scorers in the league score in the same way. With ease. Tyler was scoring with ease tonight, just as he has been in his last three games, which he scored 30 points on 56% shooting. After entering the league with the expectation of being a catch and shoot guy, he’s doing the exact opposite. He has plenty of star level moves in his bag, and has been showcasing great touch around the rim, especially when using the backboard. He seems to be getting back the confidence that he had in the beginning of the season, which is what this team needs from him in the postseason. There’s not many guys on this roster that you trust more when creating your own shot. Which is why we may see some late game Tyler Herro clutch shots since he will be looked to in these situations, as we saw tonight.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Take-Down over Indiana Pacers

The Miami Heat played a much anticipated game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, and got the win 114-92. After a tie game at the half, Miami came out sharp in the second half on both sides of the ball. Here’s five takeaways from this big win…

#1: Jae Crowder continues to be Heat’s most consistent player.

Due to the amount of lethal shooters on this roster, including Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder seems to get left out of the conversation. But, he continues to be the Heat’s most consistent player on both sides of the floor, and is shooting 60% from three in the bubble. Jae Crowder is also one of those guys that does the dirty work for you, which obviously fits well into this system. This is why Jae made his way into the starting lineup and replaced Meyers Leonard, since versatility matters on this current team more than ever due to their depth in wings.

#2: Bench unit struggles with Goran Dragic moving to the starting lineup.

Goran Dragic got the surprising start in tonight’s game against the Pacers, but consequently caused a problem. Goran had such a groove with the second unit, which was one of Miami’s biggest strengths this season. When most teams had bench drop offs, Miami didn’t. But today, it was evident they did. When Goran exited the game, it wasn’t the same bench unit we’ve seen all season, which caused Indiana to comeback early. Goran came back into the game with the second unit in the second quarter, which seemed to settle Miami down on offense, and led to Miami’s second half display. Although there’s been questions about taking Kendrick Nunn out of the starting lineup all together, it may be better to continue this rotation and let Goran and Tyler run the offense smoothly with the bench unit.

#3: Derrick Jones Jr tries to lock up a spot in the rotation.

Derrick Jones Jr has been in and out of the Heat’s rotation this season, but this may be Derrick’s time to lock up his spot. He has proved that he can guard every team’s best player, but his offense has been in question. But today, he showed he can use his vertical spacing to his advantage. And he’s beginning to improve his shooting from beyond the arc, which if he can hit one to two threes in a playoff game, that can change a game. There also seemed to be a special connection between Derrick and Goran Dragic tonight, since about 80% of his points came from a Goran lob. Derrick has said time and time again that he wants to be here, but he will need to prove his impact during this last stretch before he goes into free agency.

#4: Bam Adebayo comes out aggressive out of the gate, which is essential.

Bam Adebayo started the first quarter with fire in his eyes when he had the ball in his hands. And with Myles Turner basically daring Bam to take a mid range jump shot, he took it with no hesitation, but it wasn’t falling. The thing is with Bam though, it doesn’t need to fall to help the offense. There are plenty of guys on the court who can hit these jumpers on offense, but they can’t open up the floor like Bam does. He also had a defensive motor tonight, which he brings every night, but it seemed to have a little more energy behind it, due to the Myles Turner match-up. Myles got the spot on the USA team over Bam, which obviously didn’t sit right with him. If Bam can bring this energy and aggressiveness every night, it benefits this team’s offensive versatilities even more.

#5: TJ Warren truly isn’t in Jimmy Butler’s league.

Everybody has been waiting for the TJ Warren-Jimmy Butler match-up since their scuffle back in January. Fast forward eight months later and Jimmy Butler still hasn’t forgotten. TJ Warren has been going on an absolute scoring tear in the bubble. Emphasis on scoring. Someone in Jimmy Butler’s league would have to be able to score, rebound, play-make, defend, and lead the way Jimmy does. Jimmy showcased this today scoring 19 points, along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Jimmy also mentioned after their game in January that “I can guard him and he can’t guard me.” Jimmy guarded TJ to start the game, while TJ guarded Jae Crowder, which definitely raises an eyebrow. This was also far from a meaningless game since Miami is trying to secure the four seed, which may ultimately mean a first round match-up against TJ Warren and the Indiana Pacers.

Miami Heat’s Adebayo, Nunn Among NBA Award Finalists

The NBA released their top 3 finalists for each NBA award today, which included Miami’s Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo. These awards are given based on the player’s play before the NBA shut down, which was when Heat players were rolling. Here’s the award finalists, along with some predictions.

Most Valuable Player Finalists: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and James Harden

There was not much of a surprise here, since these three guys have been the best players of the 2020 season statistically. But, this award is not a statistical award. The reason for the award was to reward the player who was the most “valuable” to their team. For example, players like Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler have been two of the most valuable pieces this season due to their leadership to elevate their respective teams. This is not to say that these guys shouldn’t be the finalists, since Lebron and Giannis have lead their teams to the number one seed in their respective conferences. Giannis should have the slight edge over LeBron for reasons that include: a better record, not having a top 5 second option, and a case could be made a harder conference. But, if this award is just based on statistics, maybe it’s best to change the award to Best Statistical Player.

Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Kendrick Nunn

It was pretty clear that Ja Morant and Zion Williamson would be numbers one and two on this ballot, but some questioned the third slot. Kendrick Nunn was the second best rookie in the league before Zion Williamson made his NBA debut, and he was still up their with these guys after his return. Some of Kendrick’s latest play has forced people not to remember his offensive success early in the season, mostly because it’s been about 12 months since the season first began. And as mentioned in the tweet above, he hasn’t had the easiest route to where he is now. Although he’s been great for Miami this season, he didn’t carry the same load that a guy like Ja Morant did, which gives him the slight edge.

Prediction: Ja Morant

 

Most Improved Player: Bam Adebayo, Brandon Ingram, Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic being considered a most improved player surprised some people, but it really isn’t that crazy. Luka went from 21 points a game to 29 points a game, and increased his assist and rebound average by 3 and 2 respectively. But, he hasn’t made the same improvements that Bam Adebayo and Brandon Ingram did. The reason the Ingram and Adebayo race is so close is because their games are totally different. Ingram is a natural scorer while Bam is an all around player. This is another award that the NBA seems to always look in the PPG column, when in reality it’s about total improvements. Bam has went from a back up center to a top 5 center in the NBA, and has played a major role on a contender while Ingram wasn’t even a contender for an eight seed until he had the help of Zion Williamson. Based on an all around improvements, Bam Adebayo clearly has the edge over Brandon Ingram and Luka Doncic.

Prediction: Bam Adebayo

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert

While these three players have clearly been at the front of this award all season, there are some other names that should’ve been considered as well. Ben Simmons and Bam Adebayo are two players that were most likely close behind, since they play both interior and perimeter defense at such a high level. These finalists do this as well, which is why it’s basically a toss up of who you choose. Giannis Antetokounmpo will probably take this award home, due to his strength, quickness, and length on the defensive side. If you asked NBA players who they wouldn’t want to go against out of these three, it would probably be Giannis unanimously, since he’s just a 7 foot athletic freak of nature.

Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

Sixth Man of the Year: Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Lou Williams

For starters, how can two people from the same team be considered a “sixth” man. Especially when the stats are so close between a bunch of different bench pieces, including Goran Dragic, how does he get the edge. Not saying he hasn’t been great, because if there was a seventh man award, I’d give it to him. Anyway, Goran Dragic has had as good of a year as both Lou and Dennis had, except Goran’s had to carry much more of a load. Not saying Goran should win the award, but a top three finish should’ve been awarded. And between Lou and Dennis, Dennis should have the edge over Lou Williams this year, due to both efficiency reasons and, as said in the tweet above, not having another bench anchor with him.

Prediction: Dennis Schroder

Heat’s Kendrick Nunn leaves NBA Bubble, leaving guard shortage (w/UPDATE)

The Miami Heat, already likely without Goran Dragic (ankle) and Jimmy Butler (foot) for Saturday’s game against the hot Phoenix Suns, will be without Kendrick Nunn for longer.

Nunn left the NBA’s Bubble on Friday to attend to a personal issue, according to multiple sources.

UPDATE: He is expected to return this weekend, to begin the NBA’s mandated quarantine period, which starts at four days. That would make him available for the playoffs that begin the week of August 17th.

The rookie guard was late coming to the Bubble after testing positive for Covid-19, but this is not related to the disease or any other health matter in any way.

It also, according to a source, is not directly related to Nunn’s struggles on the court, which caused coach Erik Spoelstra to publicly support him in a Zoom conference call with media earlier on Friday.

There have been concerns of late inside the organization about Nunn’s focus of late, according to sources. But they were aware he might need to leave the bubble to address the issue.

Without Nunn, the Heat will likely start rookie Tyler Herro — who seems ready for an ascension — or rookie Gabe Vincent, who was listed as probable after being unavailable the past couple of games. Both Herro and Vincent will probably play a lot, because Miami is now very short on perimeter players.

Goran Dragic spoke to the media Friday for the first time since rolling his ankle twice against Boston on Tuesday, and said that the injury was not as bad as he initially thought, and that he would try to get some extra work in on Friday night. But he also said he wants to be judicious, and with the Heat likely headed for a 4 or 5 seed no matter what happens in the final four games, there’s no reason to push him.

 

 

The other question is when Jimmy Butler returns.

He missed Tuesday and Thursday’s game with a sore foot, which is not believed to keep him out for any games once the playoffs start the week of August 17th.

But he also is being careful, as is the team, not to do too much too fast.

And he was at practice with the team.

Erik Spoelstra has spoken about the Heat’s depth being an advantage.

It will certainly be tested now, against a Suns squad that is playing well behind Devin Booker, and aiming for a play-in spot in the Western Conference.

5 Main Comments from Media Availability with Spoelstra, Dragic, Adebayo

The Miami Heat had an early practice on Friday, a day after a loss to the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks. There’s also some injury statuses in question as we get closer and closer to the post-season. Here’s what was said on the call…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Since Miami is set to play Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns, Erik Spoelstra spoke a little about him. He said, “We really liked him.” This was referring back to the 2015 draft where Miami had a chance to select Devin at pick 10. Erik also adds, “His game has grown.” The Miami Heat have definitely seen his game continue to grow, which is why they wouldn’t pass on this type of player twice. Tyler Herro has also been looking closely into Devin’s game, since he watches a great amount of film on him. Devin Booker is what all Heat fans want Tyler Herro to become, which can hopefully make up for the 2015 draft decision.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Erik Spoelstra also talked about the recent struggles from point guard Kendrick Nunn. He said, “He just needs more time, similar to Bam.” He also adds that it takes time to regain your rhythm and reminds everybody of how good Kendrick was playing before the break. Something that should be taken into account with these struggles is the recent virus that they contracted. There is still so much unknown to it, that it may impact their bodies even though they were asymptomatic. Bam also mentioned that his body isn’t responding as quickly as it usually does. If this is the case, Kendrick Nunn may be given the ultimate trust from this coaching staff to bounce back from this shooting slump. And as Spoelstra said, “We need him because he provides something that is different.”

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Goran Dragic also spoke with some media about his injury status. He said, “I was a little bit concerned, it was painful, I did it twice in that game…It’s day by day.” Although this team needs Goran Dragic on the floor to be successful, the most important thing is that he is totally 100%. It’s already a risk to play a 34 year old on a back to back, especially when they play a ton of minutes. Goran also mentions that he started shooting today and it’s a little sore, but he thinks he’s going in the right direction. With this injury information pretty clear, there’s still some other unknown injuries on this team, including Heat’s star Jimmy Butler.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Bam Adebayo talked about yesterday’s foul situation and if he’d like to play through it. He said, “It depends on the situation and the game flow.” He says that if they are in a good rhythm than he would encourage the team to let him play through it, but in a situation like yesterday, “It’s a hard decision.” On a night where Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic are out, you need an offensively active Bam Adebayo, But since he got in foul trouble early, it definitely turned the tide. Bam Adebayo seems to thrive with his co-star, Jimmy Butler, out on the floor, which is why there shouldn’t be too much worry about this situation.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Erik Spoelstra made a decision at the beginning of this NBA restart, which was taking Meyers Leonard from a starter to out of the rotation. Spoelstra said, “These are tough situations…I had to treat that situation with an open mind.” This decision seemed to be made for versatility reasons. This team’s roster is filled with versatile wings that can defend, which has seemed to fix the defensive problems. But, it definitely was surprising that he wouldn’t be getting any minutes off of the bench. He also mentions that Meyers “helped us win” this season, but feels this is best for them right now. He says he’s open to change if necessary as time progresses.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Against the Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat were coming off of a tough loss against the Toronto Raptors, but rallied against Boston to get the win, 112-106. Jimmy Butler did not play today due to ankle soreness, but the team rose up to the occasion. Here’s my 5 takeaways from this game…

#1: Tyler Herro appears to be back to himself.

Tyler Herro has struggled a bit shooting the ball during his time in the bubble. This all shifted today when Tyler finally found his rhythm. I’ve said many times that Tyler’s game revolves around his shooting early in the game, due to confidence. Once Tyler sees the ball go through the net, he’s very hard to stop. Another big improvement that was seen in Tyler’s game today was his defense. He continues to showcase his active hands, quick feet, and natural instincts on the defensive end. Definitely not too bad for a guy that’s only 20 years old.

#2: Derrick Jones Jr elevates Miami’s defense.

Derrick Jones Jr has been one of the most effective defenders on this Heat team, and the absence of Jimmy Butler improved his minutes. Derrick is definitely a card that Erik Spoelstra will use if they were to face off against Boston in the playoffs. His main assignment was to guard the Celtic’s star Jayson Tatum, and he did this pretty well. He forced Tatum into shooting 2/5 in the first half, which is not an easy task. If Derrick had the help of Jimmy Butler on defense to guard Kemba Walker, this would disrupt Boston even more.

#3: Bam Adebayo needs to trust his offensive game more.

Bam Adebayo seemed to be as present as Jimmy Butler was early in the first quarter. But that slowly changed after Bam realized the importance of his offensive game. He began to use his strength, which is his athleticism around the rim. This lead to Bam’s 21 points, along with 18 free throw attempts. This was his career high in free throw attempts. This may be because this bubble format has increased the amount of foul calls, which is why Bam will need to attack the basket just as his teammate, Jimmy Butler, does. After showcasing his offensive dominance, Bam will need to continue to trust his scoring abilities as much as Heat fans do.

#4: Without Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic is essential.

Due to the absence of Jimmy Butler, it hurts their amount of play-making leaders on the roster. This is why Goran Dragic was going to be looked to in this match-up, even on a back-to-back which definitely doesn’t benefit him. Goran’s success scoring the ball today was all strategy. He was facing a tough defensive match-up off of the bench, in Marcus Smart, but he prioritized and took advantage of switches, which lead to many Goran Dragic iso’s on Boston’s bigs. Goran was a little shaken up on the final play of the game with an apparent ankle injury, and went to the locker room. With the hopes of a healthy Goran Dragic, the duo of him and Jimmy Butler will be a scary site for teams in fourth quarters come playoff time.

#5: The Boston match-up may not be as scary as it seems.

The Miami Heat have pretty much dominated every top team in the East this season, except the Boston Celtics. This is why this win feels so much better for the Heat than any other game of this regular season restart. And of course, they were without their star Jimmy Butler. The reason that Miami has struggled with Boston is because of match-ups. But well, the match-ups didn’t seem to be a problem today. This may be because of the lineup change of Jae Crowder for Meyers Leonard, which adds much more versatility and matches up with Boston’s wings. Kelly Olynyk also entered the starting lineup, who has been very impressive in the bubble. After this win, Miami definitely feels a lot better about themselves tonight than they did yesterday.

5 Post-Game Comments from Spoelstra, Adebayo, Dragic

After the Miami Heat had a tough loss to the Toronto Raptors, they talked with some media about the game. There seems to be one common mistake that they all think came up. Here’s what was said…

Post-Game Comment #1:

Spoelstra begins talking about the number one thing on people’s minds. Duncan Robinson. Spoelstra said that Duncan will need to figure out how to work through this. This definitely is true, but it’s difficult when the offense runs through your three point shot. This will cause Spo to adjust the offense into a different direction when this occurs. Another thing Spoelstra mentioned is that he thinks this will ultimately help Duncan in the long run. As mentioned before, this defensive scheme is going to come up a lot in a playoff series, once teams realize his importance. Hopefully he can develop his game on ball, which will ultimately help his game off the catch and shoot.

Post-Game Comment #2:

Goran Dragic talks about where the game went wrong and how to fix it. He said, “We were down 17, and we came back.” This comeback was all lead by Goran himself, since he seemed to be one of the only ones that could get his offensive game going. He also mentions that although they came back, they need to be careful how they got down by 17. This seemed to just be because of Miami’s inefficient shooting today. They looked pretty crisp on defense throughout, but went through long stretches without scoring the ball, which was evidently where the game got lost.

Post-Game Comment #3:

Goran Dragic also touched on Duncan Robinson’s inability to get his offensive game going. He said, “For us, it’s about us figuring how to get Duncan more open shots and get the ball in the paint.” This seems to lead back to the same conclusion as before. Adjustments. If they want to get him open looks, they’re going to need to take advantage of the other parts of the offense, which is something they didn’t do today. Goran also says he felt that they got open shots in the first half, but just couldn’t make them. He said that ended up affecting their defense in the first half, which expanded the lead to 17. These are definitely easy things to fix, but will need to lock back in for a tough game against Boston tomorrow.

Post-Game Comment #4:

Bam Adebayo gave some pretty straight up answers today in his media availability. He said, “We gotta execute, that’s the bottom line.” The problem with the execution today was in the first half. They looked to clean it up in the second half, but still wasn’t what they’re happy with. Bam definitely needs to be more active on offense in games like this, since he’s a major part of this team. He definitely was huge for Miami with his perimeter defense on smaller guards, but needs to be more confident in his mid-range. Bam also wasn’t too happy when he saw Duncan only took 4 shots. He kept emphasizing that this needs to be fixed and will look to get Duncan more shots.

Post-Game Comment #5:

Goran Dragic also got to talking about the most crucial play in the game. The final one. He says, “We want to be in this situation,” when discussing the dive pick and roll with Jimmy Butler. This is obviously a play that they’ve went over a bunch in practice, but ultimately wasn’t the best decision against this team. With the Raptors scrappiness and active hands, there’s no need to force a pass like that. You ultimately want a guy like Jimmy Butler or Tyler Herro with the ball, since they can create for themselves. It was also an interesting move not to have Duncan in the game on the play, even if he was to just be a decoy. These situations will definitely be critiqued over the next few weeks, since Spoelstra will need to get late game possessions corrected for the playoffs.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss Against the Toronto Raptors

The Miami Heat came up short against the Toronto Raptors, 107-103. Toronto seemed to have a good game plan for Miami early, while Miami battled back in the second half. Here’s my five takeaways from this game…

#1: Butler can score when he wants, but it’s his choice.

Jimmy Butler has been looked at as everything except a scorer this season, since his play-making abilities have been so elite. But today, he came out the gate with a scoring purpose. He showed that when this team isn’t knocking down their threes, he can step up. The problem is that sometimes he doesn’t choose to step up. He seems to get a little passive at times when he can easily attack the basket and score. Especially at the end of the game, Jimmy should be looking to score, instead of giving the ball up every possession. Jimmy will need to take more of a scoring load when the playoffs come around, especially late in games.

#2: Heat’s defense continues to show improvements.

Miami’s perimeter defense has continually been a problem this season. But, it was pretty clear they improved this in their first game back against Denver, when Denver shot 8/35 from deep. Today, it showed positive signs as well, even though Toronto scored the ball pretty efficiently. This may have a little something to do with the versatility in the lineup, now that Jae Crowder entered the starting lineup for Meyers Leonard. As Bam said, it’s a lot easier when you can switch everything. Miami also seemed to play a lot of help defense throughout. This forced Toronto into having 21 turnovers, which was one of the major keys to Miami’s second half run.

#3: Duncan Robinson gets targeted on offense.

Duncan Robinson has been Miami’s biggest offensive weapon all season. But, the Toronto Raptors seemed to read the scouting report, since they absolutely blanketed Duncan throughout this game. This did lead to more paint points for others, especially Jimmy Butler. This technique will definitely not be a one time thing. Teams will do this more and more, especially when they know your offense in a playoff series. I definitely don’t think Duncan should’ve just been taken out of their regular offense, which seems to be what happened in the second half. The Heat are going to need to figure out how to adjust their offense when this happens, since they’re losing a major scoring piece.

#4: Goran Dragic seems to be Heat’s biggest X-factor.

Goran Dragic entered the game in the first quarter and took control of the team. The play was slightly sloppy early, but he got the offense going. He also was Miami’s most important piece in their second half run. Goran Dragic will be a very key piece for this team since he has such a complete offensive package coming off of the bench. He seemed to struggle with the play-making side of his game today, but this is why Tyler Herro has taken some of the play-making responsibility off of the bench. Goran will also begin to be utilized more in games when Kendrick Nunn doesn’t have his shooting stroke going, like today. He will definitely be looked to down the stretch of games, since he’s one of the Heat’s most trusted players.

#5: Heat’s toughness is team’s best attribute.

The Toronto Raptors seemed to pull out of reach early in the third quarter, with Miami’s inability to shoot the ball. And well, this all changed midway through the third. This was lead by the bench unit with Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. This lineup, surprisingly, began to adjust on defense, and eventually lead to Miami hitting some shots. This is because the guys on this roster are both physically and mentally tough. Coach Spo seemed to not only lean towards the hot hands down the stretch, but also the scrappy and physical players. This toughness is why the Heat are such an interesting team this year. If Miami hits their shots like usual, it’s hard not to categorize this team as one of the contenders.

5 Key Moments from Media Availability with Spoelstra, Dragic, DJJ

The Miami Heat had an earlier practice than usual on Thursday, while other teams are preparing for the first regular season game of the restart tonight. This was the first official practice for the Heat that will prepare them for these types of regular season games. Well, here’s what they had to say about their preparation for Saturday against the Denver Nuggets…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Coach Erik Spoelstra talks a little about the preparation for these regular season games coming up. He says the plan is to “adjust and play the depth as necessary.” This is definitely a major advantage for the Heat, as mentioned many times. It seems pretty clear that depth is the biggest strength of their team. Sometimes it seems as if Spoelstra has a little too much depth to mess around with, but this is definitely a good problem to have in this format. He also says “I have to remain open to pivot as needed.” Spoelstra is one of the only coaches that have the ability to adjust quickly and succeed at it. As there’s been many different x-factors discussed for this season, Spoelstra may be the biggest one.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Goran Dragic seems pretty excited to get back out their on the court with the team in games that count. He said, “I can’t wait to start.” He also mentions that today’s practice was really intense, which means they’re starting to ramp stuff up a little more. These practices are being utilized right now as a type of scouting format. The coaching staff is trying to find the guys that are in the best shape right now and who they can trust. This very well may be Goran Dragic. As mentioned before, it’s been very obvious that veterans are made for this format more than young guys. Plus, Goran is one of the Heat’s primary play-makers, which will begin to be needed more and more over the course of the next few weeks.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Derrick Jones Jr got to talk with some media today after practice as well. He starts it off discussing the Heat’s primary struggle. Defense. He said, “We just got to get a little bit better rhythm playing together. Just getting locked in on defense.” Derrick Jones Jr is one of the few guys on the roster that has the ability to fix this problem. It’s been obvious that the defensive struggles have come from the lack of defense from the Heat’s guards. And well, DJJ has the ability to match-up against other guards, which he mentions, “I want to guard the best player every night.” But, there’s a lot of question marks around what he will be able to offer offensively. It seems pretty clear that Spo will have to make a decision on what he wants to prioritize.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Spoelstra talks a little about the importance of these scrimmage games for this Heat team. He says, “We didn’t play particularly well in our last game, but there were moments in each game where we made progress.” The Heat’s final scrimmage game was definitely a bad note to leave on, but as Spoelstra said, they’re focusing on the positive moments. These scrimmages have helped Spoelstra find the right lineups, defensive schemes, and mainly the type of environment. Last game’s disaster may be the best thing that could’ve happened to the team, since that makes them practice that much harder and truly understand what it takes to win these games.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

The Miami Heat have just released some new shirts on the social justice issues. The team wore them in practice today, which include “Enough is enough,” “Silence is compliance,” and much more. Derrick Jones Jr talked a little about the shirts, saying “I love it.” He says there are some people that aren’t very comfortable speaking about this matter, so the shirt does the talking for them. Erik Spoelstra also spoke about these shirts, saying “This is the shirt that resonates with me,” when speaking about the “Silence is compliance” shirt he was wearing. This team continues to be vocal with their stance on social justice aspects, which is one of the main reasons they wanted to get back onto the highest stage possible.

5 Takeaways from Post-Practice Interviews with Iguodala, Dragic, Spoelstra

The Miami Heat finished up a late practice tonight in the Orlando bubble. Afterward, Andre Iguodala, Goran Dragic, and Erik Spoelstra spoke with some media as they get closer and closer to their first scrimmage game this Wednesday. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about the current status of Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn and if they would return in the next few days. Spoelstra responded with the words “we’ll see.” It seems as everything is “we’ll see” when discussing the circumstances of Covid-19, since there is truly so much unknown. Although, there seems to be a bunch of optimism upon them returning pretty soon, which will be much needed for this Miami Heat team to succeed.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

There’s been a lot of talk about players being able to talk with players from other teams, but there hasn’t been a lot of buzz about coaches. Erik Spoelstra said that he talked to some opposing coaches, including Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, about different game plans in the bubble. This is something no coach has been able to do before or thought about doing, especially Erik. But, Spoelstra has used the word “adjusting” many times over the last week which is a clear clue that he will adapt to whatever circumstances.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Andre Igudala discussed Heat’s rookie Tyler Herro today in a very positive way. He says, “He wants to be great for a really long time.” This has been proven true through his clear hard working attitude and winning mentality. Andre talks about how he wants to help Tyler both on and off the court. He says he is there for him if he needs help with the approachment of things like endorsements and social issues. This is another reason why having a veteran guy like Andre Iguodala on this team is so essential.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Since two veterans got to talk with media tonight, there was a lot of talk about the young guys. Goran talked about Duncan Robinson, saying “He’s always first in the gym.” When the team usually talks about Duncan, it usually is about his lethal shooting. But not today. It’s about his hard working attitude. It seems like the players have an even more locked in attitude than usual. He also says that Duncan always wants to improve, which if he was able to improve his defense and shots off the dribble, he’d be an even bigger eye sore for teams.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Coach Spoelstra also got to talking about the different defensive schemes we will see after this long hiatus. He says that this type of environment benefits this because they have more time to drill the zone defense. This is something that we most definitely might see more of in the playoffs. Either if its to lock up a 76ers team in a first round match-up or to catch the Indiana Pacers off guard. It seemed pretty productive this season when it was used, especially to help Heat bigs like Meyers Leonard. Spoelstra also said he will be drilling the basic switching principles over the next few practices to make sure his team is 100% ready.