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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Jazz

The Miami Heat took down the best team in the NBA in a Friday night showdown with the Utah Jazz. An aggressive Bam Adebayo, a consistent Goran Dragic, and an absolutely outstanding all around Jimmy Butler headlined their best win of the season this far. So, take a look at five takeaways from this game…

#1: Miami’s dribble penetration changing the offense.

Goran Dragic being back in Miami’s rotation obviously changes dribble penetration immediately, but it wasn’t just when he was on the floor. They came out with a purpose to get inside the three point line against a jumbled up Jazz defense on the interior with Rudy Gobert, and it actually worked. Bam Adebayo’s one hand push shot inside the paint was dropping early, while back-cuts began to be sprinkled in. That element has changed quite a lot for Miami, since a guy like Duncan Robinson can cut with ease the way that he gets defended. Now, as Miami had their way with two point attempts early in the first quarter, that opened up three point shooting per usual. As the defense began to collapse more and more, drive and kicks became a huge factor for Miami’s altered offense. Once Tyler Herro returns as well, that dribble penetration will increase even more.

#2: Kendrick Nunn adding the patient element to his offensive abilities.

This shouldn’t be a surprise that Kendrick Nunn found himself on another one of these pieces, since the overall consistency in his offensive game has allowed zero shock for his strong performances. In this game, though, his overall offensive patience is what stood out the most from his game. He has made huge strides with his play-making abilities, but what has truly led to this? Well, playing time and confidence is the easy answer for any improvement in his game, but adding the patience element must be noted as well. Small things like running the baseline has shown positive flashes, since he keeps his dribble alive to await the cutter instead of getting stuck in the air. As he gets more and more comfortable running the different actions in Miami’s offense, while sustaining this impressive shooting and scoring ability, the next leap in his game will occur.

#3: Some unexpected changes in the rotation, involving the bench unit.

It was surprising that KZ Okpala had his name called before Precious Achiuwa tonight, but it was even more shocking that he basically took his minutes all together. Achiuwa usually enters for Adebayo, which means his playing time comes next to Kelly Olynyk. But tonight, Coach Spo seemed very comfortable playing Olynyk at the 5 with a smaller 4, which is something we haven’t seen much of. Usually in these stints, they went to a 2-3 zone with Gabe Vincent and Andre Iguodala up top wrecking havoc. I’m not sold that this will be decision moving forward for Coach Spo and company, since Achiuwa’s strong minutes on both ends this season has shown that he deserves the playing time he has thus far received. Achiuwa’s connection with Herro and Dragic has been clear, which is why a fully healthy Heat team should maximize his bench role.

#4: Jimmy Butler can score the basketball whenever he chooses in one specific way.

Jimmy Butler began to takeover scoring wise in the third quarter, which came in one way and one way only: Getting downhill and retreating to the free throw line. It’s almost impossible to cover a driving Butler at full speed, since if you don’t jump with him, it’s a layup. But if you do jump with him, he will jump right into you to get to the charity stripe. He played yet another all around offensive game, filling up the stat sheet in every possible way, but most things that were seen aren’t shown in a stat sheet. Open opportunities for guys like Kelly Olynyk due to a 2 man game possession between Butler and Adebayo occur frequently, and causes a solid defensive team to become out of sorts. As I’ve mentioned before, the phrase playing at their own speed is used freely, but as seen tonight, it fits Butler almost perfectly. His methodical abilities when getting downhill lead to his strengths becoming magnified, which is finding teammates for a pure offensive flow.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s offensive aggression makes an appearance once again.

There’s always one common denominator to Adebayo’s shots falling throughout the game on high attempts: Zero hesitation. Those one-hand push shots that he utilizes on an early bounce pass off the roll were dropping cleanly throughout the night, mostly since he didn’t use many unnecessary gather dribbles or pump-fakes. Adebayo obviously has an immense amount of talent in every part of his game, but it comes down to the moments in which he maximizes those scoring abilities. And tonight was one of those nights. He had as tough of a match-up that there is, in Rudy Gobert, which he went to the best possible spots to attack him. Not right at the rim for Gobert to alter or swat, but a few feet away from the rim to make him edge away from the rim. Whenever Adebayo has one of these nights, many point to him sustaining this overall aggression, which seems necessary but not definite.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Thunder

The Miami Heat finished 4-3 on their West Coast road trip after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in an ugly offensive performance. Issues were clear for three and a half quarters, but Miami got hot when it mattered late in the fourth. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Miami’s offense continues to appear problematic.

After discussing the offensive issues of the Miami Heat for quite some time, they come out with that type of performance against Oklahoma City. The reason Miami assisted on 13 of their 14 shot makes in the first half, is due to the lack of on-ball players in this game. Obviously Jimmy Butler falls under that category at times, but his unselfishness tonight proved why he needs somebody around him to do that. Kendrick Nunn is the closest thing to that, but there’s only so much he can do to keep the offense afloat. As much as we can discuss tonight’s offensive showing as a product of missing Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro, this is a recurring issue. It’s not just health, it’s not systematic, it’s not about one individual player. It’s just that Miami may be one on-ball player short with the current roster.

#2: Kendrick Nunn keeps Miami going on a night that was tough to do.

Kendrick Nunn was the guy for a good portion of the season that Miami awaited to be a spark. And tonight, he was the consistent player trying to spark others around him. He came out with the same scoring abilities that have been seen lately, but it’s much harder for him to be effective when there’s limited spacing with a stagnant offense. He then began to make an impact in other areas, most importantly as a ball-handler to set others up. The lob to Bam Adebayo late in the second quarter comes to mind, since that was essentially the only moment Heat players could score at the rim early on. He also competed defensively much more, since it seems he can be an impactful defender in spots when he wants to be. Nunn has been the real bright spot throughout some of Miami’s struggles, which has a lot to do with the overall trust to insert him in the starting lineup, while he continues to thrive in his minutes with Butler.

#3: Precious Achiuwa’s impact relies on the team’s health.

Precious Achiuwa’s overall role lately has been a tough code to crack, but it finally seems clear. It just plainly comes down to the overall health of this team for an abundance of reasons. For one, there’s a lack of offensive firepower off the bench with Dragic and Herro out, and those two guys are the ones Achiuwa benefits from most. Also, there’s a necessity to stagger Butler and Adebayo’s minutes with Dragic out, which means Achiuwa has a much different role than he did early in the season. Once Miami has a full roster, he will thrive once again in his minutes with both offensively savvy guards who work him into the offense. But for right now, his offensive role is unclear, which means his playing time comes in short spurts with the inability to get into a rhythm.

#4: Bam Adebayo has yet another efficient night throughout, but tonight was more about attempts.

The Bam Adebayo shot attempt discussion has been fluid for quite some time, since certain night’s efficiency is not the needed offensive ability. And as mentioned earlier, Miami’s offense had struggled throughout the entire night, by missing shots, not flowing into sets, and settling for jumpers instead of getting to the basket. But well, that’s where Adebayo comes into play. Most of his shots came at the rim on dunks, either from a lob pass or offensive rebound, but that just doesn’t seem to be enough on nights like this. Obviously he put up an impressive stat-line, but sometimes it’s much more than that. Even if he puts up some shots and they don’t go in, you live with the result, but relying on other guys that are much less qualified doesn’t always seem like the best route. It’s still something that many are awaiting Adebayo to fully realize, since he just needs to allow his talent to takeover at times.

#5: A Max Strus sighting, a Max Strus display.

After a tough shooting night against the Lakers on Saturday night, Max Strus had yet another opportunity with Tyler Herro out. He was basically thrown into the fire late in the past game, which didn’t allow him to get into a natural flow. Tonight, though, he had an obvious offensive flow, shooting the ball the way he usually does, but that’s not what stood out in his game. It was more importantly the other parts of the game that Miami lacked. He began to showcase a play-making ability when he was chased off the three point line, leading to kick-outs for open triples. The defense must be highlighted as well, since his physical presence allows him to guard bigger guys in the post, and stand strong against penetrating ball-handlers. Taking charges, grabbing rebounds, and-1 triples. Strus did it all on a night it was most needed, which shows they have another rotation guy awaiting his chance as the season progresses.

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A Breakdown of Kendrick Nunn Against the Lakers

In an NBA Finals rematch on ABC Saturday night, the story lines were fluid. LeBron James vs his old team, the Miami Heat. LeBron James vs Jimmy Butler in yet another duel. But well, none of that compared to the explosion of Kendrick Nunn occurring right in front of our eyes once again.

So, let’s take a dive into the success of Kendrick Nunn as of late, and what has led to this resurgence.

– Taking defenders off the dribble

Nunn has had an ability to take players off the dribble for quite some time now, but it finally appears to be more than going through the motions. By that I mean he’s not just utilizing pump-fakes as an add-on, since he’s beginning to use it to his advantage, which means he’s playing the game at his own speed as he continues to grow.

He’s currently shooting 64% from the field less than 10 feet from the basket, which is up from last season’s 55%. The attempts are pretty identically, which means he’s just increasing the comfort level in that area.

On this possession, he sells the pump-fake due to his improved shooting, as he dashes by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He has a very quick first step when putting the ball on the deck, which allows him to get to the rim with a 2 on 1 opportunity. Marc Gasol didn’t step up, which took the lob pass out of the equation, leading to an easy finger roll at the rim.

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– Floaters from just about anywhere

Nunn’s floater has been utilized this season much more than his rookie year, and it’s been working quite well for him. It’s not just about the floater itself, but the spots on the floor in which he’s shooting them, which is just about anywhere in the half-court.

He’s very comfortable with push-shots, which he attempts here at the free throw line over Gasol. This shot leads to many things in Nunn’s game being added, such as a hesitation dribble. This will slowly become a shot defenses will look for out of a pick and roll, leading to lob passes and slight hesitations to get to the basket when a big steps out.

– An improved three point shot on the move

Nunn has become a much better spot-up shooter from deep as of late, shooting 39% on catch and shoot triples compared to last season’s 35% shooting, but there’s a certain element to his shooting from deep that must be discussed. It’s not just about shooting on the move, but the direction in which he’s shooting on the move.

When he goes left off of screens, it usually ends with good things. It’s a bit odd for a lefty shooter, since it’s usually the exact opposite direction that they tend to thrive.

On this play, Nunn dribbles left off of a double screen, as Montrezl Harrell begins to drop. He immediately pulls-up at the top of the key, with his jumper looking as fluid as ever.

Now, here’s an example of Nunn leaning left on three point shots and looking as comfortable as he does with spot-up opportunities. This unorthodox ability leads to other things as well, such as a quicker getaway to put the ball on the deck and drive baseline.

Nunn is a pretty unique scorer, and the reason for that is because he has unique abilities to be effective, and it just comes down to consistency which has occurred lately.

– Creativity in the pick and roll

As I pointed out in Tyler Herro’s game the other day, creativeness out of the pick and roll is beginning to progress for Miami’s second year players. Most young players become more and more effective out of simple offensive sets of with the more playing time that they get, which is what we’re seeing right now.

On this play, Nunn realizes a bit of indecisive play from both defenders, which leads to him utilizing a snake dribble to find a dead-spot. Precious Achiuwa being the screener adds to this as well, since he always seems to be running at full speed on the roll, making a defense uncomfortable as a lob threat.

– Offense to defense

If there’s anything that I’ve noticed from Kendrick Nunn’s game over time, it’s that his defense elevates when his offense is effective. And after his jumper continued to fall throughout last night’s game, he showcased his defensive will in spots that were necessary.

He had to deal with a tough match-up all night, against a much lengthier Kyle Kuzma, but gave Miami a huge spark on this play. When the Lakers could’ve cut the lead to 2, Nunn rose up and blocked his shot from behind, after Kuzma caught him off-guard with a slip screen. Even if Nunn struggles defensively when on an island, he is trusted to make defensive plays, such as hitting passing lanes to get into transition or make an unexpected block to get the team going.

– Taking advantage of Adebayo’s gravity

After Bam Adebayo’s early aggression, taking advantage of the Lakers lack of interior defense, it led to many other things for Miami. Halfway through the third quarter when the Lakers made their big run, they tried to eliminate Adebayo’s offensive presence as much as possible, which led to him adapting.

He has been needed to put his back to the basket and take advantage of smaller match-ups, which is what he began to do. But as Alex Caruso came for the double team, Adebayo made the right read, passing out to Nunn for a triple.

Although this has more to do with Adebayo, Nunn reading the situation as well must be noted. He was putting that shot up no matter who ran out on him, as they tried to recover on their rotation, which are the small areas Nunn has showed a ton of growth with.

– Back door cuts becoming a staple

Backdoor cuts have been Miami’s thing for the last couple of weeks, mostly since defenses are overplaying the three point line on shooters time and time again. But this has nothing to do with overplaying defensively, since the Jimmy Butler effect came into play.

As he attacked the basket on this play, the Lakers defense looked pretty lost with their defensive communication. Butler unfortunately picked up his dribble, looking toward the corner at Nunn, giving him the signal to cut to the basket. He hits him in stride for an easy bucket, which shows the level of chemistry Nunn is reforming with the new starting lineup.

– The play-making leap incoming

Nunn has made huge strides as of late as a play-maker, mostly in games like last night, where defenses are focused on his scoring.

On this play, he tries to blow by a good defender, in Alex Caruso, while Harrell cuts him off to eliminate that baseline floater that has been working all night. Once Harrell gets caught in the air, he dumps it off to Adebayo at the rim.

Although he missed, Nunn continues to battle down low, going back up with a reverse layup on a key possession for Miami’s offensive rhythm. While he continues to become a lethal offensive weapon, the play-making abilities become more and more essential, which will lead to a major increase in assist numbers.

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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over Lakers

The Miami Heat faced the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA Finals rematch, which Miami got the best of them this time around. It went down to the wire, which Jimmy Butler got to the line when they needed it most, while the Heat played great defense down the stretch to get the win. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Kendrick Nunn was cooking early on.

In a game televised by ABC on Saturday night, headlined by LeBron James and Jimmy Butler, not many expected Kendrick Nunn to be the biggest story of the first quarter. Nunn scored 15 points in the first on 6 for 7 shooting, looking as comfortable as ever with the ball in his hands. He was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc as well, shooting on the move on many of those looks, which seems to be when he’s most effective. The floater is also becoming a staple of his offensive game, since he rises up with one-hand push shots from just about anywhere on the floor. After the first quarter scoring display, he didn’t attempt one shot in the second quarter. And while that may appear to be a negative element of the game, it speaks to the growth of Nunn being aware of the pacing of the game, allowing the game to come to him.

#2: Bam Adebayo comes out with a necessary aggressive mindset.

On a night where the Lakers were without their best rim protector, Anthony Davis, it was clear there were winnable match-ups for Bam Adebayo to seize. And well, he did just that early on, playing above the rim on many possessions, which seemed to be a game-plan by Erik Spoelstra. He scored 14 points in the first half on 7 for 9 shooting, and there were still times that he could’ve been a bit more selfish scoring wise. But selfish and Adebayo don’t really mix, which is why he altered between aggression and play-maker throughout, controlling the game in the non-Butler minutes. Those minutes are more important than ever at the moment, since Goran Dragic being out forced Coach Spo to go this route, relying on Adebayo’s presence without Butler.

#3: The Goran Dragic absence is noticed in spurts.

When discussing pure takeaways from this game from my perspective, the Goran Dragic absence was probably one of the biggest. Dragic has always been the guy for Miami to save them in tough spots, who can generate offense when everybody else cools off a bit. And well, Miami went through that stretch in the second quarter, but the only issue was that Coach Spo couldn’t turn to his bench to tell Dragic to try and get them out of this hole. As much as people can discuss certain losses lately not correlating with Dragic missing time, since a 34 year old shouldn’t be relied on this heavily anyway, that’s just plainly incorrect. It’s not that he needs to be the leading scorer as he did in the bubble last season, but he just needs to share the floor with others to force Miami back into their natural offensive flow.

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#4: Jimmy Butler controls the third quarter.

While the Los Angeles Lakers immediately crawled back into the game to begin the second half, it looked like Miami’s high level play in this game finally came to an end. But well, that was until Jimmy Butler decided to step up. As Tyler Herro was listed questionable to return at halftime with a hip contusion, Miami’s offensive options became limited, which meant Butler needed to do Butler-like things. And that category included getting to the basket, which leads to getting to the free throw line. Butler had 0 free throw attempts in the first half, which is a rare sight for him. He began to increase that a bit more in the third, showcasing his will to be aggressive during a stretch that it was absolutely necessary. And that was the only thing that kept Miami afloat in a time of need.

#5: The Gabe Vincent-Max Strus playing time decisions became crucial.

Who would’ve thought the minutes between both two-way players would be crucial against the reigning NBA champions? But here we are. The reasoning for Gabe Vincent getting the nod over Max Strus lately had to do with adding an extra ball-handler on the floor. And that’s exactly what Coach Spo went with again tonight, except Tyler Herro exiting the game led to another rotation adjustment. Strus got thrown into the fire in the third quarter without getting into any type of flow, leading to a terrible shooting stretch from beyond the arc, going 0 for 8 from three. As much as people can criticize Erik Spoelstra’s decisions between the two-way guys, there must be a realistic approach that we’re discussing two-way guys. There is limited production that will occur from those type of guys, especially when facing a team like the Lakers, and a player like LeBron who can attack weaknesses pretty quickly.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over the Knicks

The Miami Heat came out with a win in a close one against the New York Knicks. After a late Tyler Herro three, followed by more Jimmy Butler scrappiness, the Heat extend their winning streak to 3 games. Here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Miami’s first half roller coaster caused by Jimmy Butler’s minutes.

There were clear ups and downs in the first half for Miami, and it was all due to the playing time split involving Jimmy Butler. Jimmy came out early with an offensive purpose, which was to get to the free throw line. But other than that tactic, Miami had no other effective early offense. They shot 33% in the first quarter, which allowed New York to climb back into it. As Butler exited after that, it seemed like Miami simply fell apart, which caused Miami trailing by 13. But once again, Butler enters and changes the entire dynamic of the team, leading to easy buckets for teammates due to his downhill gravity. It’s a pretty obvious topic to discuss overall impact with Butler, but it needs to be noted when he controls the pacing of a game for a half when nothing was being generated.

#2: One of those Kelly Olynyk shooting nights.

When Kelly Olynyk’s name gets mentioned in one of these takeaway pieces, it’s either a very poor shooting night, or an elite shooting night. And well, it was one of those nights for Olynyk where everything is falling. One of the most important shots of the game for him is the first one, since there’s usually a sense of the direction in which he’s heading the rest of the game. He shot 5 for 6 from beyond the arc in the first half, which basically kept Miami afloat to finish the second quarter. He also wasn’t bad defensively tonight, since he had a pretty favorable match-up that didn’t involve a lot of movement. When Miami gets this type of Olynyk, it opens a lot of things up for others, especially since opposing teams have to make decisions to continue to hound Duncan Robinson, or key in on Olynyk for a bit.

#3: Kendrick Nunn improving in necessary offensive areas.

I discussed recently the different areas of Kendrick Nunn’s game that has improved, but one that was on display tonight was as a catch and shoot guy. Being a spot-up guy was not a part of his game that he was very comfortable with last season, but the continued confidence over this past stretch has allowed him to thrive in this area. Nunn has found himself on essentially every one of these pieces as of late, and the reason that’s important is because consistency has been his area of worry. Not consistency throughout a game, but consistency from game to game. And he’s proven since his first opportunity this season that he can do just that, but the starting position has truly elevated that point even more.

#4: There’s still a lack of rotational clarity.

Other than Miami figuring out that Kendrick Nunn being the starter and Tyler Herro playing off the bench works so well, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with the overall rotation. This doesn’t have anything to do with Gabe Vincent filling in for Goran Dragic off the bench, but more about the fit with the other guys. As I’ve mentioned with Andre Iguodala, he fits well with one of Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler, and Coach Spo seems to notice that as well. But him going to that more means increased lineup complications. Another player that falls under the category of rotational clarity is rookie Precious Achiuwa. All of his minutes come when Adebayo needs a break on the sideline, which means he has no time to get into any sort of rhythm. These small personnel things will be altered as the season progresses.

#5: Bam Adebayo learning the ways of Jimmy Butler.

Adebayo and Butler are basically the only two players worth discussing in that second half, but it’s about the way that they were scoring their points. When I asked Adebayo about Butler after Sunday’s game, he discussed learning things from him, such as drawing fouls at certain parts of the game. And well, we began seeing that tonight, since both of them lived at the free throw line all night. Although Butler utilized it to generate offense and momentum for the team, Adebayo used it for a self boost in his offensive game. It’s clear that is when he can bring on-court intensity and energy, but it also channels his aggression. If he can continue to get to the free throw line as a natural part of his game, that changes a lot of things on nights when he struggles a bit getting into a rhythm.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Knicks

The Miami Heat faced off against the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon, and came away with a win after a late Tyler Herro three to ice it. Here are five takeaways from the game…

#1: Kendrick Nunn hops into starting lineup, and continues to thrive.

Kendrick Nunn jumped into the starting point guard position with Goran Dragic out, while Tyler Herro can continue his bench dominance. It’s clear that Nunn gives Miami the exact type of offensive play that they were missing in the starting lineup, since he’s a guy that can just get a bucket. He was basically the guy who kept Miami afloat in many of the early stretches with that lineup, especially since his catch and shoot abilities out on the perimeter were working. That’s the one part of his game that comes with some question marks any given night, since his ability to get to the basket has been pretty consistent as of late. He has proved himself in every opportunity he has been given this season to this point, and it seems that now he is here to stay.

#2: The new Tyler Herro role is what Miami has been missing.

There are a couple of elements to this new Tyler Herro role making sense for him as a player. For one, it allows him to play with a bit of freedom with the second unit, especially in the non-Jimmy Butler minutes. He is given the necessary spacing, along with a rolling big in Bam Adebayo or Precious Achiuwa. Erik Spoelstra has talked about “simplifying” the game for Achiuwa as much as possible, but why not do the same for Herro? He’s had a lot on his plate lately in the starting position, mostly since his biggest strength is playing with a scoring mentality. And well, that’s exactly what has been seen the past two games, while sprinkling in some lob and skip passes when attacking the basket. This role makes sense for both Herro and this Heat team, which will make even more sense when Goran Dragic returns.

#3: Defending the three continues to be an issue.

Now to some of the issues with this Heat team at the moment, Miami’s perimeter defense on three point shots continues to be problematic. Instead of getting into the exact specifics for these issues that I’ve discussed over and over, it seems necessary to discuss how can they overcome it with the current personnel. One way is by transitioning to a complete offensive team, since most of their one-way players are offensively sound, but that just does not seem like a viable option at this point. Not only would a Miami Heat team not do that, but their offense has been choppy in spurts this season as well. Also, a very known thing is that when shots are falling on offense, the defense begins to elevate slowly. So if Miami can just figure out that side of the ball consistently, there will be gradual improvement as long as the current team can stay healthy.

#4: The Andre Iguodala effect.

Andre Iguodala stood out in today’s game in a way that he usually does, not by tremendous stats, but through all-around impact. In a game where Miami’s defense was the biggest weakness, he fills a lot of those holes as soon as he enters. Obviously his defensive abilities and movement contributes to the team feeling much more comfortable, but his leadership and vocal abilities on that end seem to do the job as well. There seemed to be some clarity about specific lineups to utilize Iguodala, since the lineups with him, Butler, and Adebayo limit offensive spacing. But when he shares the floor with one of Butler or Adebayo, everything comes together slowly on that end. He wrecks havoc out on the perimeter on a regular basis, but also showed his ability to control the interior against bigger opponents, which is important for Miami to realize moving forward.

#5: Bam Adebayo making end of shot-clock jumpers with pure confidence.

Bam Adebayo had a few moments in today’s game where he got into the shooting motion in the mid-range area after noticing a low shot-clock. The reason this is important is because there’s a common theme with those exact jumpers. The ones he shoots without hesitation, lead to a much improved shooter. It seems as if this has been said for quite some time now, but he has that ability in his offensive package already. It just comes down to him finding the right times to utilize it, possibly with a full shot-clock. I’ve mentioned the importance of attacking the basket to draw fouls, as seen on Friday night, but as we continue to see him expanding his range, the timing of his attempts seem more essential than the efficiency.

A Breakdown of Kendrick Nunn’s Scoring Abilities

Kendrick Nunn is one of the most interesting players for this Heat team moving forward, since he will have an even bigger role with Avery Bradley and Goran Dragic out. There’s a possibility he could be the starter on Sunday, due to the natural fit, while Tyler Herro can control the second unit, but only time will tell.

Here’s a look at Nunn’s offensive package against Washington on Friday night

– Nunn attacks poor defenders, which Miami needs to do more

If there is any team that knows about attacking poor defenders, it’s this Heat team. Opposing teams constantly hunting favorable match-ups hurts them, but Miami must play the same game.

Kendrick Nunn seemed to be the only one to attack Washington’s weaker defenders. As seen here, Kendrick begins to breakdown his defender out on the perimeter, leading to a blow by for a layup at the rim.

These are the types of things Miami has been missing as of late, since not only was an offensive spark necessary, but utilizing the spots of the floor that have been problems.

– The jab step equals natural shooting flow

The jab step technique is something I’ve mentioned when breaking down Bam Adebayo’s shooting abilities. When he faces a defender up, it’s not always about using a jab step for separation, but using it to get into a natural shooting flow.

Nunn, on the other hand, utilizes it for both reasons. He uses it for slight separation as seen on this play, since Rui Hachimura turns his body just enough for Nunn to immediately pull. But it seems that jab step allows him to get into the jump-shot in the most comfortable way.

Some players utilize a step-back, others may utilize a crossover. But this small technique for him holds much more value than it may appear.

– Dragic-Nunn minutes effective when this occurs

The Goran Dragic and Nunn minutes have been the one combo that has been a bit of a worry. There was some concern that they don’t fit well together offensively, and both struggle on the defensive side of the ball as well.

The one way that they can work together, though, is Nunn attacking the way he did here. He’s a very explosive player, while Dragic bases himself off craftiness, so them working off each other in this fashion seems to be the only effective way.

If Nunn continues to prove himself over this next stretch while Miami is loaded with injuries at the guard position, Coach Erik Spoelstra may need these two to work on a nightly basis.

– Major improvements with quick decisions on shot attempts

Now, after looking at Nunn’s offensive game in a deeper way, this was easily the biggest improvement that was seen. He knows how to utilize his body for a sliver of space to get into his shooting motion, for either a jumper or floater.

As seen here, he blows by his defender, and gives a slight bump to allow him to get his shot off against the grain as a lefty. Another thing that stood out here was his decision making on personal shot attempts. Instead of the past uncertainty between going into a normal jumper or floater, he makes those choices much quicker, which is necessary for a natural scorer.

These small mechanical adjustments that he has made will allow him to be a much more trusted player, and can contribute to the uncertainty involving consistency.

– The Butler-Nunn duo makes starting him much easier

As mentioned previously, there’s a chance Nunn could end up as the starting point guard for the time being, but the offensive connection with Jimmy Butler makes that much easier.

The first play was an inbound play, which the primary option is to pass out to the wing to Dragic as Adebayo sets the screen. Butler notices Nunn on the cut, and gives it to him by the basket, since he has a clear size advantage. The following play, Butler runs a dribble hand-off with Nunn, as he pulls with zero hesitation.

If there was any certain offensive need to plug into that starting lineup, it would be what Nunn gives them, while Herro can be given the keys to the second unit to do what he does best, as I broke down as well.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Nets

The Miami Heat were in an absolute battle with the Brooklyn Nets in Saturday night’s matchup, but fell short in a disappointing loss. Bam Adebayo was clearly the story of the night, but it’s much more than just a one night explosion. It’s mostly about what is to come in his game moving forward. Either way, here are five takeaways from the game….

#1: Bam Adebayo comes out aggressive early, showcasing his year to year growth.

It feels like everyone of these takeaway pieces as of late include advanced aggression in Bam Adebayo’s game. But instead of harping on his offensive initiative early, including a buzzer beating three before halftime, it’s necessary to look at these performances in the big picture. When Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro return, it’s when it’ll be much more intriguing to evaluate his offensive game. Bam has done more than enough for this team over this long stretch, and it’s very promising to see him improving game-by-game. It’s not just about the length of shots increasing more and more. It’s more about the confidence that he’s taking these shots day-by-day.

#2: Shot attempts and turnovers not problematic early for Miami, but shot makes were.

The usual issues with this Heat team that are discussed are headlined by turnovers and lack of shot attempts, which go hand in hand. But those weren’t the true downfalls for this Heat team tonight. Instead, shot makes was the area that Miami was lacking, since the role players continued to struggle with three point shooting. This is another positive aspect for Bam Adebayo, since shooting elevates his abilities tremendously. And on these poor shooting nights, he continues to shine. There’s nothing really schematic to discuss when referring to lack of shot makes, especially when two of the primary contributors are out. Some players have struggled in their elevated roles throughout this unique stretch of games, while the hope is everything comes together with a healthy roster.

#3: The Kendrick Nunn ups and downs.

Kendrick Nunn needs to be noticed in tonight’s game as well, even after being discussed the last few games. For one, the first thing that has been in question with Kendrick is consistency, so getting a look at his game over a stretch of games is important. There’s no way to tell if this type of play is sustainable for a long time, but he clearly has the capability of making an impact on this current team. His role will change when Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler return, but that will only benefit him as a player. His scoring is the primary part of his game, but the other areas of his game continue to be showcased. A tighter handle, quicker decision making, better defensive possessions. Those are the areas that lock up a spot in the rotation, so it’ll be interesting to see how he responds moving forward.

#4: KZ Okpala gets some minutes and has positive flashes.

After a Moe Harkless injury in the first half that caused him being out for the remainder of the game, KZ Okpala started the second half. He showed a bunch of positive flashes on the defensive end, one being an incredible block as he dropped down low. He can showcase those types of things, as well as his one-on-one defensive abilities, but the only downfall seems to be a certain level of understanding and decision making on defense. And that’s expected with the amount of floor time he has gotten in his career, and the only way for it to improve is floor time. He also can impact offensively when needed, which he looks very comfortable with the corner three. If he can polish up his offensive game with the ball in his hands, he will have a much bigger opportunity.

#5: Big picture evaluations must be looked upon.

Looking at things big picture is necessary in the current situation Miami is enduring, and that doesn’t mean creating excuses. It’s just being realistic. For one, as discussed previously, Bam Adebayo is making more than a simple leap. He’s becoming the player that he’s very capable of being. The reason big picture comes into play is because he’s doing this without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. If he can sustain this into that stretch when the roster is fully healthy, it elevates the team tremendously. Duncan Robinson is another player to look into full picture since he went from being one of the priorities on opposing scouting reports, to basically becoming the actual number one player on the scouting report. Teams won’t be able to fulfill that total elimination when Miami’s guys return.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Loss to Toronto

The Miami Heat played the Toronto Raptors once again on Friday night, and fell short this time. Miami’s early struggles put them in a hole, and a couple of late pushes just weren’t enough. Anyway, here are five takeaways from the game….

#1: Slow start for Miami, fast start for Toronto.

The first takeaway that was apparent tonight was the slow start Miami came out with. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with energy though, just mostly an inability to get into their normal offense. Toronto clearly made adjustments from Wednesday to Friday night, mostly by trying to eliminate Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo from the offense as much as possible due to constant double teams. And it’s hard to make adjustments to the adjustments when you don’t have Jimmy Butler or Tyler Herro, as well as Goran Dragic in early foul trouble. But those excuses are unnecessary, since they just beat this team the other night with Kyle Lowry. Either way, Miami’s poor shooting early was the primary reason for their early struggles, especially since the role players couldn’t capitalize.

#2: Kendrick Nunn not only looked like himself, but looked better.

Even when Miami’s entire offense could not get in a rhythm due to constant doubles on Bam and Duncan discussed earlier, Kendrick Nunn became the only reliable scorer. He continues to showcase the ability to get downhill and to the basket, but more importantly stop on a dime for the immediate pull-up jumper. The offense can be discussed continuously, but what really stood out was the defensive end. He was very active on that side of the floor all night, but really thrived once Miami switched into a 2-3 zone. That’s when he began to look most comfortable, and a high comfort level is the most important attribute for his overall game. Seeing Kendrick Nunn look like himself once again is terrific in itself, but seeing him look like an improved version of the guy who placed second in rookie of the year voting last season is even better.

#3: When the role players don’t play their roles early, it doesn’t end up well.

As discussed previously, Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo had their hands full with Toronto’s defense early, while Kendrick Nunn handled the offensive load. But what about the rest of the team? Well, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus had major opportunities but did not play very well on the offensive side of the ball. Kelly Olynyk did not have many early minutes after Toronto went small, which would’ve been a huge boost before the Raptors got an early lead. The surprising minutes stat line in the first half though was 5 minutes for Precious Achiuwa. That has a lot to do with Bam playing 18 first half minutes, and they never seem to get inserted together. When the role players struggle early as demonstrated here, it’s pretty obvious how Miami trailed throughout.

#4: Bam Adebayo increases energy to begin the second half.

Miami clearly needed a boost of some kind to begin the second half, and Bam Adebayo took that upon himself individually. Mid-range jumpers and skip passes aside, he just brought the energy that Miami needed to make a run to begin the quarter. That was mostly sparked on the defensive end, which is no surprise. When the team is without Jimmy Butler, it’s needed to have somebody they can look to for some type of spark, and it’s great to see that Bam continues to take on that leader role. As he has mentioned in the past, there’s a big difference between leading by example, and leading vocally, and he looks to be evolving in both areas.

#5: Erik Spoelstra utilized exactly what he was given, plain and simple.

Before people begin to make comments about certain rotational decisions in this game, it ultimately doesn’t change a thing. Coach Spo went as deep into the bench as he could, due to the absence of Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Avery Bradley. Some guys down the line may not have performed as great as many had hoped, but that doesn’t fall on coaching or lineup insertions. And playing Brooklyn tomorrow night on a back to back makes those decisions even more viable. He utilized the cards that he was given. The issue was that he just doesn’t have that many cards in his deck.

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.