Tag Archive for: Jimmy Butler

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Cavs

Well, this wasn’t pretty.

There were ups, and even more downs.

But some big shots from Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things led the way.

Some takeaways…

#1: Donovan Mitchell hot first half, eyeing the defensive plan…

Donovan Mitchell had a hot opening half on Friday night scoring a very efficient 25 points, along with 6 threes. In comparison to a game ago where the Cavaliers had Darius Garland, you would think the Heat would be able to focus more on the on-ball magic of Mitchell, right? Well nasty crossover after step back three gave a very different impression. The early problems weren’t that they weren’t focused on Mitchell, it was that they were *too* focused on him. By that I mean, they were getting lost off-ball time and time again, leaving them behind in rotations and giving Cleveland open slots to operate. From there, that’s when Mitchell got busy on his step back threes against single coverage. Felt like more blitzing and shading was necessary than he was being given, but this is the exact reason I’ve harped on leaning defense in this rotation by now.

#2: The turnover problems continue…and that’s a *big* problem.

There hasn’t been an extremely heavy diet of wins this season for the Heat, but do you know the common thread between most of them? The turnover battle. Before I get into the main slice of this from the game tonight, the Heat’s defense was elite for the sole reason of pressuring and forcing turnovers. More possessions, more fast-break opportunities, more of a chance to win with this uneven half-court offense. Now to the specifics of this game, they weren’t putting themselves in a position to win that battle with the amount of careless ones they were giving up. Part of this is the two primary offensive hubs aren’t guard creators, so the creation to your trigger is not a pass first guard. (I know what you’re thinking: that’s ideally Kyle Lowry) But it’s pretty simple that this Heat team isn’t good enough for Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo specifically to be that high volume in turnovers, just as the usage rises.

#3: My take on what’s needed from Bam Adebayo in a certain unit.

So the Heat changed things up a bit with the rotations recently, as Butler anchors the second unit late into the first quarter, while Adebayo and Herro exit early to re-enter with some of the role guys to begin the second quarter. But the usage of Bam in that lineup has stuck out to me heavily. They use him as a roller even more than usual, part of the Herro or Oladipo pick and roll sets, which ties back to the turnover conversation. Bam should not be a primary roller here. He needs to be a primary option off the attack on the ball. Cross screen into mid-post insertion. Pin-down into a curl at free throw line. The stuff that puts him in creation mode, instead of the reactionary base to the guards. This is something everybody wants to see in general, but it’s needed even more when Butler isn’t out there as well.

#4: Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things.

When it comes down to unwatchable stretches, this third quarter tonight was definitely up there. Heat came out and score a quick 10 points and seem to be rolling, yet things plummeted shortly after. Not able to get a stop on one end, with just an insanely bad offensive process on the other end, feeling like a full on grind every single time. With that said, late in the third, Jimmy Butler began resorting to a bit of a jumper display. He was hitting them, but that pretty much sums up the process of the offense. Even aside from the jumpers, he was the entire key to every Heat offensive run that was made in this game. Why is that? Well as I harp on repeatedly, his mid to low post touches are the savior to the Heat’s offense. He was getting whatever, whenever he wanted in this game, but the rough stretches for this team were just…rough.

#5: The fourth quarter…

Adebayo drives, kicks, and Herro finds just enough space to get off a leaning triple in the corner. 1 point game. Heat force a miss, Herro gets it into transition, pull-up three to take a 2 point lead. That was a stretch early in the fourth that shifted some energy back on Miami’s side. Heat force a turnover on an inbounds around the halfway mark of the fourth, leading to a Strus pass to Bam for the dunk. 3 point game. Butler began getting into some of that downhill juice shortly after. A tough lay-in into a bump and float jumper off glass into a strong drive down an open lane for the dunk. Heat up 7 now with Butler entering that mode. Some back and forth ensued with some triples falling in the Cavs favor, putting this game back at a 3 point lead for Miami. Another late shot clock jumper by Tyler Herro put Miami up 5, on an extremely tough step back. Mitchell responds again with a floater. A Mobley lob under a minute to go puts things at a 1 point game. 20 seconds left, Strus screens as Butler ends around, leading into yet another pull-up jumper. 3 point game again. Mitchell ends up getting fouled at the rim with 10 seconds left, putting Miami in a position I feel like I’ve seen them in 100 times this year. Martin knocked down 2 free throws, and Miami escaped with a win.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Cavs

Starting another two-game home set, the Heat faced the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

They fell late after making a decent push, but let’s get right into the takeaways…

#1: Against the best paint protection team in the league, the Heat find success in the interior.

Matching up with the best defense in basketball, it should also be mentioned that this team formulated their scheme from the Milwaukee Bucks. Protect the paint, play with length, and force the opposing team into mid-range shots. So what did the Heat do in the opening quarter? Went right at their bigs in the paint. The Heat had 12 made field goals in the first quarter, and 9 of those came in the paint. They were also shooting 75% from the field in that range. Credit to Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler who were converting down there often, but it was also intentional schematically. The Heat drew up 2 early sets to get Love into some high-low actions for a lay-in. Miami usually counters this style with a ton of threes, but with their current roster state, they clearly can’t be relying on that element.

#2: Bam Adebayo in foul trouble means…literal trouble.

To start this game out, Bam Adebayo was guarding Donovan Mitchell on the far sideline who was tight roping it already. Adebayo gave a slight hand-check, leading into a very quick foul, and a pretty pour decision in the bigger picture. Shortly after, Adebayo picked up his second foul, which put Miami in a very awkward position when it comes to the troublesome no-Butler/Bam minutes. The Heat have been trying to get Adebayo back in to begin the second and altering those two guys’ time, yet they couldn’t do that with his two fouls. Instead the Cavs made a run in a long 3 minutes, before he came back in at the 10 minute mark. And there landed another quick foul, putting him at 3. He didn’t play the rest of the quarter, but it just displays the value of Bam, and the need to be smart with his hands.

#3: Jimmy Butler has been thrown his fair share of basketball related allegations, but I’d like to cross one off the list.

We had the “Jimmy Butler being doubled” conversation in the past. We’ve had the “Jimmy Butler against length” conversation even more often, since there have been a few nights where teams schematically place their bigger versatile defender on him to bother. But if I can confidently cross anything off the list, it would be facing length No question he wants smaller match-ups, it’s quite literally what he’s searching for all game, which was actually Max Strus screens to get Darius Garland in the action who kept hedging and recovering. But even with that, he was seeing a whole lot of both Mobley and Allen early on, yet still find ways to get them in the air and get to the line. Plus he had some buckets in the paint off secondary attacks. The point is that this shouldn’t be a benchmark of concern.

#4: The X’s and O’s action of the night…

When it comes to my schematic takeaway of the night, the Heat were getting to a pretty different three-man action in the half-court than we are accustomed to: Gabe Vincent, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love. Early in the game they used Love as the perimeter passing hub, as Vincent positioned himself for the back-screen for Butler. Butler dove, and so did 2 Cavalier defenders. Love swung to Vincent, who drove and dumped it off to Bam for the dunk. We saw this many times throughout the game, flashing once in the third quarter with the exact set-up. Except this time they weren’t prepared to double Butler on the roll, as Love lobbed it to him for the easy conversion. They’re going to need more from Vincent and Love as scoring threats to really make this hub a true success.

#5: The fourth quarter…

As the clock hit the 6 and a half minute mark, a timeout was called, as Heat fans hoped this was finally the stoppage to get their best player Jimmy Butler back into the game. Luckily they kept the deficit at only 7 in that span, since it’s just simply a risky game to play with them losing so many games in that 2 to 3 minutes this season. The offensive spacing was not looking too great for the first few minutes, as the Cavs were basically daring Oladipo to make plays off the catch. Around the 4 minute mark, a Bam elbow touch turned into a contact drive for the and-1. 5 point game. Heat had a good look off a turnover right after, but Herro came up just short on the three. After a timeout, the Heat drew up another elbow touch for Bam, as Butler got fouled off-ball and went to the free throw line. Heat force turnover on other end and run the break for a big time Martin dunk. Garland responds with a bucket and a 3 point lead, as a very odd possession ends in full Oladipo dribbling and a 3 point chuck. Cavs score on other side, and they’re up 5 again. After some trouble inbound in what felt like a game that was over, Heat force a 5 second violation. Miami draws up a nice set to hit Herro cross court, who rises up with full contest. Back at 2 point game. A potential Bam steal on the following inbound was collapsed upon when the ref called a foul, as Jarrett Allen went 1 for 2. Down 3, a pindown for Strus is the set and it’s off the rim. It felt like Herro should’ve been the call, but they got a decent look. Heat lose…

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

Heat beat the Hawks the second time in 3 days after a very strong showing from their bench.

Oladipo, Martin, Robinson come up big.

Some takeaways…

#1: Another horrendous defensive start for the Heat…

The Hawks were 2 points shy of handing the Heat their 3rd 70 point first half in the last 4 games. When it comes to expectations, did we think the early lineups they’ve been leaning into were going to be elite defensive units? I know I haven’t. But the issues have felt so simple when it comes to the schematics. The game-plan has been generally fine, yet the lack of resistance to stop the ball is the start of all their problems. This Hawks team wasn’t just killing them from deep, since they only collected 5 triples through the first 24 minutes. They were bursting by the point of attack with ease and making plays in the lane. 38 points in the paint in that first half, going 19 of 24 from the field in that range. Yeah, the shot profile was rather simple.

#2: In the meantime, Heat offense actually somewhat humming? But one constant downfall…

While the Heat were putting together an embarrassing defensive half, the Heat were quietly stringing together some of their best offense in some time. 7 of 12 from three and 54% shooting overall. A main key to that was the bench unit didn’t fully fall off a cliff, giving credit to Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin, who I will get into more extensively next. Like it usually is, all of their scores were heavy half court grinds and sets, but there is one downfall that keeps popping up: turnovers. If the Heat could find a way to wind that down a bit, the offense would be in such a better spot. Usually the second unit gets careless with Victor Oladipo leading the offense into some giveaways, but it’s the guard room in general. That screams discomfort. But either way, they were battling through that for positive scoring surprisingly.

#3: Caleb Martin finally thriving in his role.

Now when it comes to full on positives, Caleb Martin has been a major one over the last few games. As we’ve addressed all year, Martin needs to be in a role off the bench that fits him, as Bam described as “free,” while also pointing out the obvious of not having to play at the four. As for tonight, he saved the Heat’s offense. Not just because he had 16 points in that span, but the way he was getting it. Back-door cut, off-ball movement, simple slip. The consensus there, he was the only player for Miami that was moving in a way to support the hubs in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He’s also athletic and skilled enough to make plays at the rim following the dime, leading to some early trips to the line. It’s pretty clear he looks extremely more comfortable at the moment.

#4: The two sides of Victor Oladipo on a night to night, play by play basis.

It’s been evident for a while when watching Victor Oladipo that it’s essentially a seesaw effect. There are the moments where he’s hitting shots, putting pressure on the rim, and forcing turnovers to get on the break. Yet there are other times where the turnovers are just way too much for the Heat to overcome. We saw both of these things tonight. In that first half, he was definitely loose with the ball much like the entire Heat roster, but he’s basically the man in control with that unit. Fast forward to the third, he really changed the outlook for them, beginning with a tough crossover and step back triple in the corner. He followed that up by just literally shifting the pace. Every rebound, every shot, while being on the ball or off, he was sprinting down the floor with clear momentum. It gave them a jolt, and that added pace is needed for this team, especially in that unit. Later to begin the fourth, a Duncan Robinson lob to Oladipo cemented that.

#5: Late-game finish…

Heat trailed by 1 with under seven minutes to go, and they were still searching for Duncan Robinson. Hand-off, denial, re-hand-off, three pointer. Trae Young responds with a three of his own, before Herro gets comfortable on a right wing three to put it back even at a tie game. 113-113. Out of the timeout, Heat get some offensive boards into an eventual kick-out to Caleb Martin for three, flowing back into a Jimmy Butler pick and roll who finds Herro in the same corner. That put Miami at 16 of 28 from three on the night. Hawks responded back to cut it to 3, before Butler hit a fading short jumper to put it back at 5. Heat muck up the play defensively, force a turnover, and Bam throws it down the floor to Herro. Up 7. Trae Young gets a floater to go, so Miami needs a bucket here. Heat keep going to the Butler-Herro PnR with Herro screening to get Young in the action: Butler floater. Another Young floater to counter, right before Herro turns it over on a blitz for a Murray lay-in. Heat up 125-122. Miami runs a Bam-Butler inverted PnR with 40 seconds left, and he hits the jumper. One problem: it was called a travel. Luckily Heat force a turnover on other end, and Butler gets fouled to ice it at the line.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

After some real crushing losses in this building for the Heat this week, they finally had a breakthrough against the Hawks.

Smooth offense, Bam Adebayo’s best game since the All Star break, and simply a needed win.

Some takeaways…

#1: The Heat changing up their offensive actions a bit, starting off with an uncommon two-man action.

When it comes to the Heat scoring 66 points in the first half, it’s obvious we don’t see that often. But we also saw something within their process that we don’t see often, and that began right out the gates when Miami noticed an interesting match-up. With Trae Young on Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler was searching for Tyler. They were running a heavy diet of two-man game, which usually ended in an easy pocket pass to Butler on the short roll, as he can search for the best option back-side within that 4-on-3. That was part of the reason Butler ended up with 5 assists at half, since they were over-committing when he got 2 feet in the lane. The other main adjustment surrounded the focus of Bam Adebayo, which I will get to later…

#2: There’s been a call for a shift in the substitution pattern, and the Heat seemed to have answered.

No Jimmy Butler, no Bam Adebayo. That’s been a lineup pattern that I’ve been tracking very closely over the last week, since it’s been so problematic night in and night out. The Heat changed things right off the bat, as Bam Adebayo got an early exit with Tyler Herro coming right behind him. There was about a 2 minute span to finish the first where neither were on the floor, but you can live with two. Just as the second quarter started up, Bam Adebayo was back out there. The entire goal is to give Butler the job with the second unit instead of Herro, since it can stabilize offense and control the turnover problems they’ve had in those units. It was clear the adjustment was coming, but good that the Heat didn’t wait on it.

#3: Bam Adebayo finding his flow, but it was intentional from Miami schematically.

As I said earlier in this piece, the Heat’s actions felt different in this game. The Butler-Herro combo was match-up based, but the Bam Adebayo sets were team/Bam based. Inverted PnR’s with Herro and Butler screening to get him downhill is always something that’s called for, and we saw that a good bit early. I’ve also been a big fan of running curls for him to operate off, since it’s essentially a living mismatch. Strus down-screened for him in the second quarter, he received it inside the elbow, jabbed, and flowed into a smooth jumper in his spot. A little bit later as Gabe Vincent walked the ball down the floor, Spo was punching his fist into an open hand, calling for a split action repeatedly. They got it to Bam, he waves Herro to fly off the screen, but it’s all a ploy to get Bam in space. Ends in a push shot for an and-1. My takeaway is as simple as this: run. actions. for. Bam. Adebayo.

#4: Cody Zeller time?

Only two players were in double figures as the game went into the half. Bam Adebayo and Cody Zeller. Yeah, that’s a new look for this Heat team. When it comes to his play, I keep coming back to one single word that stands out: activity. Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo are running in transition? Cody Zeller is sprinting a 40 yard dash into the play as a trailer. A shot goes up? Zeller is finding a body to potentially draw a foul or get his hand on the ball off a board. Heat searching for a decent look? Zeller is either screening in the action or off the ball. He is just in every play it feels, which brings me to that word activity. He looks fresh and he has played well.

#5: A needed win…

Aside from all of the schematic X’s and O’s stuff, the reality was a loss to this team would officially flush this season down the drain. I know you’re thinking: well, that’s been proclaimed multiple times already this season. But after those last two performances, they were in true total melt down territory. Also other than the morale side of things, this team specifically needed this against this Hawks team who are closely trailing them. A pair of wins in this set put you in a decent spot in that race within the standings. As I’ve been saying, the Heat’s new goal is the 6 seed. Avoid the play-in, avoid Milwaukee or Boston in the first round, and avoid total embarrassment to be brutally honest. Now you have to sweep this set on Monday.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Knicks

Talk about a tale of two halves. From pure disappointment in the first half to an energized group that actually looked like a basketball team in the second half.

Some takeaways…

#1: The defensive leakage continues in both half-court, and more importantly, transition…

Oh look at that, another 70+ point quarter for the opposing team in the Heat’s own building. As I’ve been noting, the Heat’s shooting is a major problem, but they were at least able to somewhat counter it early in the year by getting games in the mud on the defensive end. Well, that has fallen off completely over the last few weeks. A 20 point opening quarter for Julius Randle set the stage, mostly showcasing that they would find the open slots of Miami’s defense in the half-court following the heavy diet of showing and recovering to eliminate the simple switch. But the bigger issue is that the half-court defense doesn’t even feel like the main issue. Every grinded out Heat offensive possession ends in an extremely speedy Knicks team racing down the floor for layup after layup. No restriction for the Heat in that space whatsoever. The defense has been a problem.

#2: The Butler lineups vs the non-Butler lineups with a clear distinction.

The patterns for this Heat team have been odd as of late. Leaning into an early 5 minute stretch with no Butler or Bam is quite the choice, but Butler was also on pace to play a total of 28 minutes when we hit halftime. That’s an issue in itself, but the reason it’s a bigger problem is due to the fact this team has an insane shift when he’s on and off the floor. It’s one things to look at the lopsided numbers, but the eye test surpasses those stats even further. The Heat don’t have a base without Butler on the floor. They rely on a ton of guard play and pick and rolls, and that is getting them absolutely nowhere. Butler checks in with 6 minutes left in the second quarter, and there’s an immediate change on his way to 19 first half points. We’ve been saying he needs help, but this is looking worse by the day with him on a deserted island.

#3: Oh, is that what a bench looks like?

We can play the blame game on Tyler Herro or Kyle Lowry or Max Strus or Gabe Vincent on a night to night basis surrounding Butler, but let’s take a moment to zoom out for some perspective on a specific unit: the bench unit. Miami’s bench has been non-existent while the Knicks are possibly the most talented bunch in the league. Quickness and scoring from Quickley, solid 2-way play from Josh Hart, energy from Obi Toppin, and a perfect role big in Isaiah Hartenstein. Compared to the Heat’s second unit, they looked like a superteam, as Heat fans count down the seconds until Erik Spoelstra looks down his bench to rotate the core guys back in. This is nothing new since it’s an obvious statement, but seeing this measuring stick up close is definitely eye opening.

#4: A third quarter pick-up: Adebayo, Herro, Butler leading.

Now after all of the negative that I discussed, the Heat made a run of their own to open up the second half, playing with a lot more energy and flow on the offensive end. It began with playing through Bam Adebayo on the break, as he got some easy ones in transition as he started to play much more freely. Some of those short jumpers began to fall as well, getting him and the Heat offense in a flow. Tyler Herro played off of that with some tough pull-ups and movement threes to really spark Miami’s scoring punch. Through all of this, Jimmy Butler was the one creating much of the offense following the over-helping. Playing through their main guys is needed, and the Butler-Herro-Bam grouping showed up in the third.

#5: The fourth quarter…

Jimmy Butler checks in with under 8 minutes to go, Heat down 8. He immediately gets a low block and-1 to cut the deficit back to 5. Shortly after, Victor Oladipo hits his second big shot of the fourth quarter with Butler kicking it out for a top of the key triple. 6 minutes left, 2 point game. A big time Caleb Martin leaning three on the left wing officially put Miami up 1, right before the Heat and Knicks threw some counter punches back and forth. Under 3 minutes to go, a tough Randle fadeaway put the Knicks up 2, followed by a Brunson floater to put at a 4 point game with two minutes to go. Heat respond with a lob to Bam for the dunk, back at a 2 point game. With the crowd getting louder, Bam comes up short on a jumper, rebounded by Butler, and put back in. Simply out working them. Tie game. Another turnaround from Randle is the response, this time being an and-1. Fast forward to a Herro steal and incredible lay-in to put the Heat up 1, followed by a game winning Randle fading three. Tough way to finish that.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Philly

After taking care of business against the 76ers in Philly, the script flipped back home in Miami even with no Joel Embiid.

Shooting, awful. Defense, possibly worse. Just a clear lack of consistency in all areas.

Some takeaways…

#1: Different defensive look from what we saw in Philly.

71 points, 11 threes. Those were the first half numbers for the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half, on a night that they were without Joel Embiid. I’m going to discuss minute distribution next, but the Butler and Bam-less minutes play into this heavily. This team falls apart on both ends in those stretches. But in terms of the defense, they were obviously forced into a different style without Embiid, but the pure will and grit shouldn’t go anywhere. Yet it did. They lacked physicality and were just non-existent with on-ball annoyance. They were switching a good bit when they weren’t in zone, which felt odd considering drop would force the looks you want from them: mid-range pull-ups. We can talk shooting all day, but the defense being inconsistent takes the cake for importance.

#2: If it wasn’t clear before, the Heat need one of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the floor to be successful.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo logging right around 16 first half minutes, they were on pace to play slightly north of 30 total minutes. Aside from that being an issue, they were almost mirroring minutes in that first half in a way we haven’t seen in some time. That forced the Heat into a 2-3 zone for a long period with Oladipo and Martin headlining, which has been successful, while the offense is heavily reliant on Herro and Dipo creation every play. Zeller-Martin-Strus are not going to create their own shot, basically forcing Miami into a very obvious offensive base for the time being. Thus forcing the loud 20-2 run from the 76ers. This team simply needs a Butler or Bam hub at all times, and they certainly will need more floor time in general considering the spot they currently sit in.

#3: Jimmy Butler vs the switches.

When it comes to a positive element of this match-up, specifically with this version of the 76ers, Jimmy Butler against the switch always feels to be their best offensive bet. He was searching for the Maxey or Melton switch what felt like the entire first quarter, and it was food each and every time. A couple of and-1’s later, it leads to much better shots across the board as they shot over extra help immediately. The only issue about them sending slight doubles his way? Well, the Heat shot 1 for 8 from three in the second quarter. So as they were shading extra defenders, he seemed to be making the right play time and time again, but it would result in a clank off the rim and transition play for the Sixers. Just something to keep in mind for counters in further match-ups.

#4: All eyes on guard play.

To reflect quickly on my earlier point about Butler and Bam not being on the floor, the reason it’s such a big deal is due to the fact it places a ton of weight on the shoulders of their guards. Tyler Herro didn’t have core on-ball presence as a scorer, Gabe Vincent was extremely inefficient, Victor Oladipo isn’t much of an offensive shooting threat, and Max Strus has his ups and downs. When it comes to the guards, the inconsistency is something to continue to point to. Like I said before, Butler/Bam hubs are crucial. Why is that? They get them into their best half-court actions, instead of the usual perimeter led sets. They just can’t have these nights from their entire guard room.

#5: Well if you want good news, I’ll give you the one single thing…

When it comes to the standings, the Heat currently sit in a play-in spot. But when scanning further up the standings, you would notice the Heat are only 1.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets. The only good news, like I said, is that Nets also lost tonight to the Knicks, who will be in this building in 48 hours. At this point, the goal is to simply chase the Nets to get out of play-in range. It feels odd to say on a night like this where they get washed off the floor by Philly, but one of their most favorable first round scenarios would be this exact match-up. Try and take your chances in the game-plan department against Embiid and company, instead of a play-in riot right before matching up with Giannis or Tatum. The goal is the 6 seed. I didn’t think I’d ever be saying that.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Hornets

The Miami Heat fell to the Hornets on the second night of a back to back, behind another underwhelming performance team wide.

Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler put up some points, but that was about it.

Some takeaways…

#1: What about the identity?

The Heat haven’t been a high powered offense or hot shooting team all season long. But they’ve hung their hat each and every night on the defensive end. This season hasn’t been full of a ton of pretty basketball, but they’d flow right into clutch game after clutch game in the mud due to their steady defensive structure. Now when you look at the rotations they’re running while going 10 deep, it’s pretty obvious the reasoning due to this flipped motion. About half of that grouping aren’t known as solid defensive counterparts. They’re betting on shooting and offense at this stage, but the result is clearly far from what they were hoping. I’m going to talk about the shooting next, but it almost feels like trying to get back to that gritty defensive style is needed with this group.

#2: The shooting….

Halfway through the second quarter, the Heat scored a total of 26 points. Part of me didn’t know how they even got to that number based on the amount of bricks from deep that were flying all over the floor. Shortly after the Heat made a decent sized run before the half to juice some of the stats, but I’ll get to that in a few. The shooting just continues for the Heat. Tyler Herro started this game 0 for 5, and it just seemed like every shot was short right from the jump. As for the bench unit, if we don’t count Cody Zeller for a moment, they shot 0 of 10 from the field in that first half. The role players just aren’t giving them anything, while Gabe Vincent didn’t even attempt a shot across the first 24 minutes of basketball. This isn’t a rough stretch, it isn’t a slump. It’s just basically who they are at this stage. Runs like we saw right after are the only counter we’ve seen for it all season.

#3: Heat make run, Kevin Love generating good things.

A little past the 6 minute mark of the second quarter, Tyler Herro knocked down a rhythm three on the wing. Next time down the floor he shot a corner triple that finally gave Miami some offensive hope. Timeout. The final 5 field goals of the half after that point came from Cody Zeller and Kevin Love. Yeah I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing on the surface. But when it came to a much needed Heat run, it was clearly a positive factor. Zeller was running the floor well for easy buckets off Herro to Butler attacks, while Love was just slightly finding his shot. A couple of rhythm threes put him up to 13 points and 8 rebounds at the half, basically putting on display exactly what this Heat team needs if the others were holding up their end of the bargain. Miami closed out the quarter on a 25-6 run, something that didn’t seem possible if you watched the first 18 minutes tonight.

#4: Similar story for Jimmy Butler back to back nights.

It’s been noted that many of the issues that occurred in Milwaukee came back up tonight in Charlotte, but another thing that was sustained was the play of Jimmy Butler. We saw Butler efficiently scoring and getting to the line just a night ago, and he elevated that even more tonight against the Hornets. The key word was efficient, since he’s been hitting that attack mode where his shot profile is calculated into smart shots only, instead of some of the lingering fade-aways or three point chucks. It’s part of the reason why we’ve been focusing on the supplementary parts even more, since it feels like he can carry his load whenever he chooses, especially considering he got to the line 14 times by the end of the third. Guys like Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo, and Max Strus not having a single point through three quarters pretty much furthers that.

#5: Fourth quarter…

After the Hornets pulled away from Miami yet again, it felt tough for the Heat to battle back once again. But Tyler Herro’s bounce back, Gabe Vincent getting active with his first shot attempts, and some Caleb Martin relief buckets put them back at a tie game. Yet every time they’d get even, they would take a few steps back with the inability to fully get over that hump. LaMelo Ball responded with a run of his own from deep, as Jimmy Butler countered that with some more trips to the line. Fast forward to the 4 and a half minute mark, a turnover gave the Hornets an easy bucket to extend their lead to 6 prior to a Heat timeout. Butler kept up his attacks, marking his 20th free throw attempt of the night, yet the stops weren’t being generated behind some tough middy’s from Gordon Hayward. As they trailed by 5, a kickout to Herro was made on the right wing, as he fakes a pass and hits a rhythm three. Shortly after, he flows downhill into a floater to put him at 33 points on the night. Around 2 minutes left in the game, Heat run an inverted PnR for Bam with a screen from Butler, leading to a dunk. But the Hornets just kept scoring on the other end. With a minute to go, an Adebayo turnover in transition was deflating, which led to an offensive board and slam by the Hornets to put the lead back at 5. Ball-game.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Nuggets

The Heat played their last home game of February on Monday night against the Nuggets, and oh look at that, another clutch game.

The Heat had their moments in this game, but they were just too under-manned for Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.

Some takeaways…

#1: A shift in the offensive base for the Heat.

As the Heat walked into the locker room at halftime, 62 points scored is a pretty solid baseline when taking into consideration the rotation tonight and the way this offense has generally looked. Part of that reason was getting aggressive Bam Adebayo in his spots early, and Jimmy Butler was heavily engaged in the half-court offense. Part of that engagement meant mid-post touches into kick-outs, which we saw an uptick with due to the fact this team was missing most of their perimeter guard play. No Tyler Herro pick and rolls to rely on, meaning more Butler/Bam in the mid-range. Butler had 7 assists at half for that very reason. As I’ll get into next, part of this should credit the hot three-point shooting, but his set-ups deserve credit.

#2: The battle of three point shooting…

Looking at the stat sheet after 24 minutes of play, you would notice a very different number next to the Heat’s 3 point shooting: 10 threes made on 48% shooting. Like I said, that’s almost double the usual number. The only problem with that: the Nuggets were simultaneously shooting 57% from three, mostly behind the automatic jumper of Michael Porter Jr. As I’ll discuss next, there’s only so much you can cover against this Nuggets team with Jokic’s ability to hit shooters. Aside from that, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent just simply weren’t shy about the shot attempts with 13 combined at half, which the coaching staff most certainly gave them elevated numbers as a goal number. When they shoot well, this offense reminisces the one of last year.

#3: The challenge of Nikola Jokic.

Nikola Jokic vs Bam Adebayo is as fun of a match-up you can get on the surface, but much of the time the Heat aren’t allowing it much screen time. When it comes to guarding Nikola Jokic, you must balance the over-committing doubles and strong close-outs when he throws a fast-ball to the opposite corner. A main element of that balance is trying to sustain single coverage as much as possible. We saw some points where they would switch, per usual, and that’s all he needs. He has a legit skill of sealing down low for quick insert passes and lay-ups. The other part of this is you really can’t go zone against him for obvious reasons. Bam Adebayo and company were giving him trouble when he was outside of the paint, but Jokic was winning the low interior battle.

#4: This Gabe Vincent starter thing isn’t going anywhere.

When it comes down to takeaway’s on a night to night basis, I seem to always walk away saying ‘yeah, Vincent’s role isn’t changing again.’ From the perspective of front office decision making, it makes the most sense to see what you have in a contract year. giving him the maximized opportunity. Yet from the basketball perspective, it most definitely makes the most sense at this current stage. It’s not that he’s having these eye opening performances, but he’s doing PG1 things. Taking control of the offense when needed, hitting spot-up triples, and bringing a certain defensive intensity. It’s hard to see this and say he’s going to be bumped back down to bench role player when everybody comes back. This is here to stay.

#5: The fourth quarter:

The Heat finally looked like they hit a wall heading into the fourth quarter. They went on a small 4-0 run to finish the third, but the game-plan seemed to be running out of gas. But well, they caught some energy. Ignited by a fading Strus three and hop step in the open floor, the Heat gained some momentum. A couple minutes later Strus catches in the corner, jabs to his left, then sprints baseline into a tough up and under. He was feeling it. The Nuggets made a run mid-way through the 4th, extending it to a 7 point lead with 5 and a half minutes to go. The Heat chipped away with some scores off defensive plays, along with Bam Adebayo getting to the line. 2 minutes to go, 6 point game. Adebayo began getting into his bag a bit on Jokic for a nice floater, followed by an insane block at the rim. With a chance to really put a stamp on this comeback, Strus took a contested floater that got blocked. Nuggets ball, down 4. And well, that pretty much sealed it after Butler missed a bunny to cut it to 2.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Magic

The Miami Heat made their way up to Orlando on the second night of a back to back, which always feels like their biggest challenge no matter the season.

An underwhelming 44 minutes turned into a wild comeback to finish the game, heading into OT, and Miami took care of business.

So here’s four negative takeaways and one long positive takeaway from tonight (lol)….

#1: Horrid first half for Heat offensively, referring to a certain matchup.

This Heat half-court offense is already a grind in the first place. Three point shots just won’t fall, they are clearly under-manned on this roster when eyeing the reserves, and the scoring begins and ends with a mid-floor touch from either Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. But why did it look *that* bad in the first half? Well, this Magic defense has the two components that Miami usually hates seeing: flat-out switching and length on those switches. That blueprint basically screams trouble for the guards. Every pick and roll was flattened out off that simple switch, and it doesn’t help the shooting cause when 7 foot small forwards are contesting shots off every catch. Most of the time it’s Miami doing it to themselves, but tonight it’s clear this type of matchup structure is something they want to avoid by any means.

#2: The way teams are guarding Bam Adebayo.

Bam Adebayo came out scoring pretty well with 6 early points, knocking down his dotted line jumper that he feels so comfortable with. But the water was shut off the rest of the half essentially, which was the theme of the entire half court scoring. Adebayo was still the best scorer for them through that initial 24 minutes tonight, which says some things, but I’ve been wanting to note how teams have been defending him. He has a strong base/hub, and it involved two spots essentially: off the catch in the mid post and off the roll in any space within the interior. When it comes to the regular mid-post entry, teams rarely will flat-out double him, even though we’ve seen it occasionally in the past. But when it comes to the stuff off the roll, teams are taking it away as much as possible. Pinching in from corners is the easy choice for opposing defenses, since they’re daring you to make a tough skip pass to the close corner. Bet on a struggling Heat three point shooting team to knock down that shot instead of their favorite shot making hub. It makes sense, but they have to find a consistent area of dictating their own shot profile instead of letting defenses choose it.

#3: While we’re on the first half issues topic, let’s talk defense quickly.

In the first half, the Magic shot 50% from three and basically had their way in the paint for different reasons. We know they’re going to switch everything, but one thing they are great at is sending calculated doubles to force turnovers. On the flip side when it comes to big picture comments, the Heat’s normal help defense has been off as of late. Too many times the short corner defender doesn’t rotate for the cut-off, as the Heat’s base is always to pack the paint and give up the three. You can always tell their energy level by those simple principles. In that first half, the missed help assignments created a ton of easy buckets for Orlando. And the key to Miami turning it around in the third: team defense. You can tell when they’re engaged, and clearly that was an Erik Spoelstra theme at half.

#4: Depth?

When it comes to the Miami Heat, they’ve been recently known for having a ton of depth, partly due to the revolving door of new ready to go projects at the end of the bench. But then you take a look at the reserves tonight: Jamaree Bouyea on a 10 day contract, who simply is unwilling to take any sort of jumper that’s available. Orlando Robinson, who fights on the boards and never feels to be a true negative, but doesn’t provide much offensively other than an occasional put-back. Haywood Highsmith, who I’ve been a fan of his rotational minutes in general, yet it’s clear the only scoring is the possible spot-up three you may get when left wide open. And lastly, Max Strus, who I’m sure you are familiar with by now. The point is this: when the starting lineup is inefficient, there’s no coming back from that. There’s no true offensive creation in that second unit whatsoever, which makes this so tough. It’s not only reliance on Butler and Bam being on the floor, it’s reliance on them generating almost every look. That’s basically the takeaway.

#5: Late-game comeback…

Usually I’ll start at the halfway mark of the fourth to finish these pieces, but let’s dig a bit deeper tonight. Down to the 4 minute mark, the Heat trail by 9. Bam took it down the open floor and ended up getting to the line off a leap to the basket. Shortly after, Herro found his spot in the lane for a tough floater. Timeout, 5 point game. After some back and forth, Vincent knocked down a transition corner triple to really give Miami some life, but Banchero kept answering. But then Butler began entering that mode. Mid-range bucket into easy back-door lay-in into another low block turnaround with 36 seconds left to cut the deficit to only 2. Miami ended up putting together a stop on defense off a Gary Harris missed three, and Vincent got fouled on the rebound. Free throws to come, as he buries both. Magic had a chance to take the lead off a nice inbounds play to Banchero, but Bam makes an incredible defensive play at the rim. With deja vu of the night prior, Heat inbound in a tie game with 1 second left: fading Butler three that misses. OT. And the next few minutes was all about Herro and his floater, continually finding his spot and rising up with one hand for touch shots. To put Miami up 5, Butler hit a side stepping baseline jumper with under 2 minutes left. Following some Magic moments, they had a chance down 3 to tie this thing up, but it didn’t fall in their favor. Heat win.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Pacers

The Heat faced the Pacers just hours before the deadline on Wednesday night, as Bam Adebayo shines yet again.

He’s had big time offensive nights, but when it comes to that knockdown jumper: this is at the top.

Some takeaways from this one….

#1: The Heat come out with a hot offensive first quarter.

With not much focus on an actual basketball game being played tonight, the Heat came out with a surprising amount of energy. The offense was moving extremely well, as they were hitting shots from the outside and finding back-door cutters often. That interior play led to 9 first quarter free throw attempts. Gabe Vincent was the story of that early quarter, as he walked into an immediate 11 points, which is some awkward timing. The trade deadline hours away, and Kyle Lowry on the top of everybody’s mind, he found his offensive comfort in a heavy off-ball role. Spot-up threes and some PnR play got him going. That got the Heat up to 39 points in that opening quarter, but inconsistency struck again.

#2: Bam Adebayo’s high isos and elbow jumpers…

Bam Adebayo’s game has become simple on the offensive end. Not in terms of role, but in terms of approach. To finish the first quarter, he dribbles down the open floor with an expiring clock, and flows into a deep fade-away jumper at the buzzer doesn’t even hit rim. Shortly after to begin the second quarter, limited time left on the shot clock, he fades at the same spot for the same shot. Bucket. Those rhythm shots turned into a full-out elbow jumper display off every pocket pass and isolation. He was getting to the line as well, but it wasn’t in a Jimmy Butler grind it out style. The jumper was dictating. The pump-fake just kept finding buyers. He finished with 20 points in the first half alone. His scoring levels have become extremely fluid, and they fit the playoff style so well.

#3: Noting some issues, plus the TJ McConnell game.

We often talk about random scrub Heat killers, but TJ McConnell always seems to find his game against the Heat in recent years. He knows the primary spot he can score from, Miami knows the primary spot he can score from. But sometimes that’s just a shot you’ll live with in context of the offense. That was the case in the first half, where he ran off 16 early points in that short mid-range area. As much as I talked about the Heat’s early flow, they still trailed by 3 at half. Even more importantly, they gave up 63 points to this Pacers team in 24 minutes. In big picture, no matter what the roster looks like, the Heat will figure out how to operate within top ranked defenses. But this just sums up the inconsistencies way too often. Shooting variants, coverage variants. That’s what makes playoff projections tough at times due to the wide range of the unknown of who you are getting exactly.

#4: Jimmy Butler willing his way to buckets.

As much as I discussed Bam utilizing his strengths, Jimmy Butler was doing the same heading into the third quarter. Let me start by saying the Pacers are a team that defends Butler much differently than any other team in league. The match-up that Butler usually searches for, already sits there on a platter as their small guard Andrew Nembhard is his match-up each game they’ve played. It’s not a total disadvantage since they constantly shade help, but it shifts Butler’s original approach. In that third quarter, we saw him just willing his way to the basket. Embracing contact, fading for and-1’s in mid-air. Playing off misses and dump-offs around the rim. He was in his element, and most of all, he was playing with a certain level of intensity. Butler and Bam finding their way…just hours before the deadline.

#5: Hours away from the cut-off.

On a night that the Heat played a game against the Pacers, with their two top dogs in Butler and Bam leading the way, it didn’t even feel like a game night. All of the focus seems to be on that 3 o’clock deadline tomorrow afternoon, as they search for any type of improvement. We’ve talked enough names, but I just want to discuss it in the context of this game. Watching Bam Adebayo not hit rim on any jumper. Seeing Jimmy Butler score whenever he chooses it’s necessary. Get them the help they most definitely deserve. We often headline this point with Butler’s window, but what about Bam’s surge? He’s playing at an incredible level right now, and that shouldn’t be wasted either. Let’s just see how this plays out, hours away from the cut-off.