A rather healthy Heat team, minus Kyle Lowry, faced off at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
A strong night by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo offensively gave the Heat the offensive blueprint on the way to the win.
Some takeaways from this game…
#1: Jimmy Butler carrying the first half offensive shot distribution.
Isolation. An inside the arc burst to either side of the floor. A slow, methodical spin move back to the inside. Bucket. That was a simple way of describing how Jimmy Butler got to 19 first half points. Even after missing time by any means, he usually comes back in similar fashion. But instead of diving in that direction, there is definitely something to be said about the pure 1-on-1 ability of Butler. Simply, teams have shown they don’t really have an answer for that element of his game, nor do they want to display it. Opposing teams won’t send that double too often since they know what will happen next when combining Butler’s passing and Miami’s movement. Anyways, it’s always good to watch this version of Butler on the offensive end.
#2: The continued finger-prints of Victor Oladipo on the defensive end.
When talking about the Heat’s defense, we usually start in two completely different places. Either the point of attack issues, or to praise the defensive excellence of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Well, Victor Oladipo would like a word in both areas. In terms of one-on-one ability, there aren’t many guards in this league with the natural ability that he possesses. His lateral quickness, even after multiple injuries, is something wild to see. He can cut off any ball-handler just by beating you to the spot. His instincts are also a major part of this, since he makes timely swipes to accumulate steals, as seen in the Eastern Conference Finals against Jaylen Brown. Those instincts blend into off-ball positioning leading into the charge surge. He has been great in that field, and feels necessary to note.
#3: Some X’s and O’s talk: the Heat’s recent spam of a certain action.
In the previous game against the Timberwolves, the Heat spammed one specific action for the final two minutes of the third quarter, which pretty much put them in a position to eventually win the game. Double drag: the Heat’s ball handler will come off a pair of screens, with the first one popping and the second one diving. It’s a simple action to basically spread the floor a bit and possibly force a switch. But we saw it a ton again tonight. It’s really heavy in the Duncan Robinson lineups since he’s always that initial screen to immediately slip, but this set is what got Tyler Herro going finally in that second quarter. That flowed him to the rim a bit more with added paint touches, basically turning into a Herro-Bam PnR, creating a very good shot diet. Like I said, it’s simple, but it’s also crucial.
#4: A change-up in game-plan for the Heat again? Yes.
Speaking of that last game vs Minnesota, I asked Kyle Lowry after the game about the uptick in pace, which he basically said you are forced into game-plan changes without Butler and Adebayo. That would be correct. But what about a game-plan shift when both of them are playing? We saw that tonight. Although Spo always preaches getting to 40 three-point attempts, while the Heat still did get up a bunch tonight, the goal was to have more going at the rim. That ties back to both the Butler and Herro points in this piece. They wanted to attack the Lakers lack of rim protection at the moment, and well, that’s not a hard thing to adjust to when that description fits your two best players exactly. This team simply cannot rely on three-point shooting, even if it gets hot for a month or two. Having this base will always be key.
#5: Wait, is Caleb Martin the three-point specialist now?
It’s been a running joke for a while that Caleb Martin essentially can’t miss when his foot is on the three-point line, and that held up in this game. To finish the third quarter, he had 13 points with three triples, but the only two 2 point field goals were with his foot on that line. So in theory, that should’ve been 5 triples. Jokes aside, this emergence has really been something to document. He’s super confident in that jumper following a size-up jab step, while also providing stuff off the catch a good bit. If the Heat were in a better spot this season in terms of winning, we would be discussing this jump much more. With all of the talk about a “four,” he has been outstanding this season in whatever role they’ve placed him in.