Tag Archive for: Goran Dragic

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.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Win Over Washington

The Miami Heat played a short-handed Washington Wizards team on Saturday night, and came away with the win. The Miami Heat looked pretty sharp offensively throughout, which clearly won them this game. Here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: Miami comes out on fire offensively, but invisible defensively.

The Miami Heat set a franchise first quarter record tonight, scoring 47 points on 78% shooting. Only issue was that Washington put up 44 points as well in that first quarter. As much as we can discuss Miami’s impressive shooting early, the defense is what truly needs to be keyed in on. The reason for that is because you’re playing a team without their two best players, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. A lack of individual efforts on defense was obvious, since there seemed to be a lack of urgency. That is not surprising, since that is what usually happens when going into a game against a team without their top players. It comes down to intensity on that end of the floor, and they didn’t have it early in this game.

#2: Kelly Olynyk having one of those Kelly Olynyk like games.

In Miami’s impressive first quarter scoring display, Kelly Olynyk was one of the players that truly shined. It is known that Kelly is capable of having those type of shooting games, but it just come down to consistency. Tonight was one of those games though, where he just couldn’t miss from deep. He also used his nightly fake hand-off, which usually ends up with an open layup at the rim. It was especially needed for Kelly Olynyk to have this type of performance tonight, since Bam Adebayo and Precious Achiuwa each had three early fouls. Obviously nothing can be replicated on defense or by rebounding, but the offensive boost was a huge positive for this team.


#3: Goran Dragic getting back to his normal shooting abilities.

Goran Dragic, surprisingly, hasn’t been shooting the ball great to begin the year. Heading into this game, he was shooting 25% from beyond the arc. But he came out in the first quarter going 4 for 4 from three, which i discussed before the game since Washington’s lackluster defense can give those types of guys the rhythm they’ve been looking for. Those 4 triples were his only scores in the first half, and actually his only four attempts, but he used his passing to create for others on offense. The defense began to fly high, which led to him dribbling right by for a kick to the opposite wing or corner for a three. And that right there is the Goran Dragic effect.

#4: Tyler Herro showcases his great touch around the rim.

Tyler Herro was scoring the ball well tonight against the Wizards, mostly by attacking the basket with the ball in his hands. He seems to have great touch around the rim when using the basket, almost Goran-like, and showed his aggressiveness to get to the rim. He also cuts off the ball quite a lot, and against a defense like Washington, he found himself open a few times. And once he begins to get his scoring going, his play-making begins to look better and better. Not only did he score the ball well tonight, but he scored it efficiently, and that’s more important than anything.

#5: Jimmy Butler’s offensive initiative was this Heat team’s staple.

Although many of Miami’s players exploded on offense in that first quarter, nobody scored the ball as consistently as Jimmy Butler did tonight. He clearly could score the ball at will tonight against this poor Washington defense, and chose to do just that throughout the game. He probably could’ve done it a lot more, but that’s just not Jimmy’s game. Well, unless he’s in the finals. I’m pretty sure everybody is aware that Jimmy is more than capable of taking over on offense when needed, but if there was uncertainty, tonight should’ve cleared that up. Once again, there’s not much to takeaway when it’s against a team you’re supposed to beat, but Butler can do exactly that against pretty much anybody.

A Familiar Starting Lineup Likely Against OKC

Miami has played five games to this point, and each of those games have had a different starting lineup.

Until now. Well, I think.

The Miami Heat will be facing off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and they match-up pretty well with them since Andre Iguodala is the placeholder 4 right now.

Oklahoma City basically starts three guards: George Hill, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Lu Dort. That most likely means Jimmy Butler will take the match-up of Shai, while Tyler Herro most likely guards Hill and Duncan guards Dort.

The Thunder also start an undersized four, Darius Bazely, and he’s coming off an impressive performance against the Orlando Magic. Andre Iguodala clearly matches up well with the 6’8 Bazely, and although there’s questions about what the future holds for Miami’s power forward position, they can win plenty of regular season games with him there.

And of course Bam Adebayo will match-up with Al Horford. There definitely isn’t much to dive into with that match-up since you feel comfortable with Bam on defense no matter who he is matched up with.

Now, the bench is where Miami really can pull away early. First off, having Goran Dragic head in with the bench unit is a positive in itself, but it’s even better when a rookie, Theo Maledon, will be matched up with him for some time.

Goran’s craftiness allows him to break down a lot of young guys without experience, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if Theo gets in early foul trouble.

Another guy that will be utilized for some time tonight is Kelly Olynyk. The Thunder play a bunch of bigs off the bench, including Mike Muscala and rookie Aleksej Pokusevski.

When Muscala gets thrown in off the bench, I’d expect Spo to do the same with Olynyk. Precious Achiuwa can also see time on him, but there are plenty of athletic 4’s and bigs on the roster that make more sense for Achiuwa from a match-up perspective.

This is game that Miami should win, especially coming off of a terrible shooting night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Limiting turnovers will be a huge priority for Miami as well, since they average the most turnovers a game in the NBA.

It’ll also be necessary to see Jimmy Butler play like Jimmy Butler. Not Finals Jimmy, but the high energy Butler many are used to.

We will see what happens tonight, as Miami looks to go to 3-3 on the season.

The Weight on the Shoulders of Goran Dragic Once Again

Heading into this season, there were a lot of uncertainties surrounding Goran Dragic, due to his injury. And somehow, he was out there ready to go for the start of the season.

But would you expect anything else from Goran?

Probably not considering his will to play in the Finals game after his injury.

The consensus with Goran this season was that he’d take his time working himself in, and possibly take a decrease in minutes for the beginning of the regular season.

But well, that clearly wasn’t the case. He played 25 minutes in the season opener and scored 20 points, then played 27 minutes in the second game and scored 18 points.

He was the rock of the team once again, getting them out of tough spots while being the most consistent offensive weapon on the team.

And now he’s heading into the third game of the season with Heat star, Jimmy Butler, out. It was known all last season that it was necessary to stagger Jimmy and Goran’s minutes since everything was under control when one was on the floor.

The motto between coaches and players on this team has been next man up. But ultimately that next man up needs their steady veteran.

This does not mean that Goran will get overplayed, since keeping him healthy is obviously priority, but it’s hard to hold Dragic back.

If Miami begins to struggle to get things going offensively, Goran will make sure to step onto that court to take control.

Miami has plenty of guys that are waiting for their chance, and now it’s time for the depth to be utilized. But once again, Goran will be necessary for those guys to strive.

And I have no doubt he will be out there as much as needed to try and get these games against Milwaukee.

Not many expected Goran to be in this spot this early in the season, but here he is. Ready to step up once again.

Miami’s Bench Unit: The Reliable Four

In the Miami Heat’s Christmas Day win over the New Orleans Pelicans, we finally got some clarity about this Heat team.

Although lineups and rotations will change constantly, this game showed who the 9 man rotation will ultimately include. The fifth player in the starting lineup is interchangeable, but the first four off the bench will most likely remain the same.

And rightfully so, since that second unit kept them going in yesterday’s game, since they have the perfect balance of scoring and defense.

Goran Dragic has a lot to do with the success of that second unit, since he just calms everybody down when he steps on the floor, and can control the pace of the game. He also is a scoring threat from all three levels, and he has proved this far that he’s one of Miami’s most consistent go to scorers.

Precious Achiuwa is another reserve that was surprising, since not many expected that he would be getting this many minutes to start the season. Not only does he have zero experience at this level, but he’s been playing like he has the most experience. He is under more control than most guys on the roster, since he knows how to play his individual role at a high level.

The connection between Goran and Precious has been obvious as well, since Goran seems to have made it a priority to get Precious touches and set him up in his spots. Bam mentioned that in his post-game press conference, that Goran wants to get Precious involved as much as possible.

Now, although Goran and Precious are the most intriguing names to discuss off the bench, Andre Iguodala and Avery Bradley were the two guys that truly stood out in my opinion.

For starters, individually Andre did what he does best offensively by being the unselfish distributor, but also knocked down the occasional corner three which increases his value even more. Avery was huge on offense as well, hitting the three ball when needed, but more importantly taking that one step inside the three point line since that is his strength.

Both players had great Christmas Day performances individually, but they stood out even more as a duo. They were causing defensive havoc on the perimeter in yesterday’s game, since both of them are so active with their hands on the ball. JJ Redick couldn’t get an ounce of open space all game with Avery’s off ball defense, while Iguodala’s ability to switch made it that much better.

The reason this group of guys work so well together is because they have a great deal of chemistry, which is odd since it includes a free agent signing and a rookie. If the continuity is this high right now, just give them a few weeks.

The second unit worked best when the fifth guy was either Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson, since adding an extra offensive threat on the perimeter maximizes their play.

The reason I call them the reliable four is because even when the starters seem to struggle, they all go out there and play their own game consistently. Miami has something special with this bench unit, and it’s why many have been raving about their depth.

Once the starting lineup gets in a flow, since they haven’t yet, this Heat team will be even more intriguing than last years team.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Christmas Day Win

The Miami Heat got to kick off a display of Christmas Day games against the New Orleans Pelicans, and got the win 111-98, after their fair share of ups and downs. Miami wanted to make it a priority to clean up their defensive issues, which they did, but the offense continued to show some struggles. Either way, here are five takeaways from the game….

#1: Duncan Robinson sparks Heat run, after hitting the occasional three.

It’s no surprise that Duncan Robinson can shoot the ball at an elite level, and that continued today. He knocked down 6 threes in the first half on 75% shooting, but what that led to was what stood out. Miami couldn’t get in a rhythm in the first quarter, but Duncan set the tone. And after he began to hit three after three, it was clear the entire offense would open up. And it did. He was in a lineup with the rest of the bench unit, which I will discuss next, and it allowed Goran Dragic and others to thrive. That is why the word gravity always surfaces when talking about Duncan, since he has so much control over the opposing defense.

#2: Miami’s bench looks impressive, both on defense and offense.

There’s a reason that depth has been discussed so much with this team heading into the season, and that’s because there are a few reserves who can be starters. The starters did not have it going offensively early, but once Goran Dragic and company came in, they took control. Goran obviously played a huge role, which I will discuss next, but others showed out too. For one, Precious Achiuwa still seemed to look more comfortable than most of the guys on the floor for Miami. Avery Bradley and Andre Iguodala also looked impressive on the defensive end, since they were causing havoc on the perimeter all game when on the floor together. I feel we will always discuss Goran and Precious, but Andre and Avery will be a big part of this team going forward.

#3: Goran Dragic puts on yet another offensive display.

Now to Goran Dragic individually. The dude is 34 years old and playing like he is 24. As I explained after the season opener, he comes right in and controls the pace of the game. And with a roster full of youth, that is much needed. He looked good scoring the ball again, but looked even better as a distributor, dishing out 6 first half assists. It’s already known that Goran holds major value on this team, but I don’t think many expected him to continue his elite bubble play into the start of the season. This team needs a veteran like Goran who can take over for the team when Butler isn’t on the floor, and that’s exactly what he did.

#4: Tyler Herro’s struggles have to do with role change.

Tyler Herro seemed to struggle early in the game once again, but I don’t think people should begin to worry. He told media in his press conference yesterday that the issues aren’t point guard vs shooting guard, but instead starting role vs bench role. It’s not easy to adjust from a spark into a guy that needs to set the tone, which is why it’ll take some games for him to get back into a rhythm. And as I’ve discussed, it needs to be remembered first and foremost that he’s a pure scorer, and the passing will come after he gets going. A lot of times he seemed reluctant to shoot, which pretty much altered many jumpers. He’s a guy that plays off of confidence, and that needs to continue. Tyler will be just fine after he gets acclimated with his role, but for now it’s time to learn.

#5: Life without Jimmy Butler changes some things.

Jimmy Butler did not come back out onto the floor after halftime, since he had some right ankle stiffness. His first half stats included 4 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, but his time out further proved the impact that he holds on this team. I think everybody is aware of the role he plays on defense, but he truly controls the offense just with his presence. For one, his ability to put his head down and attack allows the shooters to get the spacing they need. And since there were some ball-handling issues when Goran Dragic was off the floor, it’s obvious that had a lot to do with Jimmy not being out there. Miami had to play a different type of game after Jimmy Butler went out, which means adjustments were made by Spo in that second half. Jimmy’s impact on this team is known, but it needs to be appreciated.