Tag Archive for: Kyle Lowry

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Bulls

The Miami Heat came away with a win against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night in an anticipated matchup. Even with Tyler Herro out, they got it done, mostly due to the two-ways of last season, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus.

So, here are five takeaways from this win…

#1: Miami’s defense setting the tone early on.

In the beginning of the second quarter, the Heat forced the Bulls’ 10th turnover of the game, which doesn’t even tell the full story. DeRozan shooting 2 for 5 and LaVine shooting 2 for 6 in the first half doesn’t tell the full story either. It was just about the discomfort the Bulls were in from possession to possession, and lineup to lineup. The zone popped up again, Miami placed PJ Tucker on DeRozan so that he’d land on Vucevic after the screen, and they were just hitting the passing lanes as a whole. When you’re without one of the best scorers on your team, in Tyler Herro, it’s expected that defense would be the way you dictate a game. And they did just that to start.

#2: Tyler Herro out, Max Strus in.

Tyler Herro was a late scratch, after Spoelstra mentioned before the game he was a bit “under the weather.” That ultimately meant Max Strus would step into that next open slot, even though it felt his name would be called even if Herro played. Either way, he came out firing. Literally. He may have been the team’s leading scorer at the half, but the more important stat was he attempted the most shots on the team in that span. With 9 shots, 5 were threes and 4 were twos, just showing how this game was being played overall. We saw a bunch of different combinations with Strus, but the ultimate takeaway is this: he should never be on the outside looking in with Markieff Morris out and Victor Oladipo still healing up. Ten man rotation should be the next call before benching one of you’re better three-point shooters on a team that struggles from beyond the arc.

#3: Kyle Lowry the scorer made an early appearance. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo the facilitators quickly followed.

As we talk about the way Miami was generating offense, early on more specifically, it was almost a total flip in terms of individual player roles. Kyle Lowry came right out in scoring mode, getting to the basket twice in the first minute for easy layups. His drives were definitely up in this one as well, which meant simple kicks were the outcome. But not in the way you’d expect. Swing, swing, and there’s Butler or Adebayo in that mid-post waiting for the ball. Butler then drives and kicks. Or for Adebayo’s sake, he unfortunately waits for the double to come instead of attacking the smaller defender, and hits the cutter. That formula led to the two of them racking up 7 first half assists, and it did wonders to maximize the bench guys specifically. Without that big chunk of usage from Herro, the reliance on base offense was crucial.

#4: Duncan Robinson getting the ball up, and shifting his spotting.

This wasn’t one of those breakout Duncan Robinson nights where he shoots the ball like he used to. But what he did do is step up in the shot attempt column when others were drifting. Without Herro, you can push past inefficiency into the mindset of just getting them up, which he did. Some started to fall, but something interesting that followed was his willingness to begin scoring on the inside. Lay-ups, back-cuts, mid-ranges. That’s not really Robinson, but it needs to be in the prolonged stretch of poor shooting. Of course we can continually talk about the hope of it returning to normal, but there must be that in-between time where you utilize a non-Herro game to try and get out of it. It may be in his head, but the overarching mindset has yet to waver.


#5: Gabe Vincent continues to come up huge for Miami.

Speaking of guys on this roster on the outside looking in, that was Gabe Vincent’s role for most of the season. He was an intriguing defensive spark when needed, but that has finally flipped. It all came down to threes falling for him, and we’ve finally hit that moment in time. But is that the only difference? Actually, I don’t think so. Opinions can fly about the recent play of Kyle Lowry all you want, but the fact that Vincent can play next to Lowry at this stage is a major difference maker. Vincent’s playing with confidence, he’s not a one-dimensional offensive player at this exact time, cannot be taken advantage of on the defensive end unless he’s facing a much bigger ball-handler, and the shots are now falling. The back-end of the roster is doing their job, and now all eyes are on the top-end of this team.


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The Importance of the Miami Heat’s Mismatch Hunting

When you’re without Jimmy Butler, you’re best players have to do Jimmy Butler things. Not just by picking up his usual points per game or defensive role, but sustaining the things that allow the offense to work on a nightly basis.

One of those things is applying rim pressure, since although guys like Kyle Lowry are highly capable of doing so, he just hasn’t been as regularly active in that department as he once was. That’s not a huge deal since it hasn’t been a major role of his, but it is necessary when Butler isn’t on the floor on a specific night.

(Enter Lowry’s fourth quarter vs the Clippers)

The switch flipped when Miami went down in the fourth, as Lowry was doing anything he wanted with the ball in his hands from deep heaves to easy blow-bys at the rim.

As much as Lowry showed out in the fourth, Bam Adebayo did so in the first quarter. He came out with an offensive purpose, which is something many of us want to see even when Butler is on the floor. He was showcasing mid-range jumpers, sliding into specific slots as the roll man, and much more.

But the common denominator between the first quarter from Adebayo and the fourth quarter from Lowry: mismatch hunting. That was when Miami’s offense was at its’ best, but the issue with that sentiment is that it never seems to be sustained throughout 48 minutes of basketball.

Lowry just didn’t have it going for about 3 and a half quarters against the Clippers. A lot of that had to do with the overarching reliance on the three-ball falling, which probably shouldn’t be the element that is harped on in these spots.

Instead, the part of his game that should be the fall-back plan is what he resorted to in the fourth quarter: picking on the bigs.

Against a team that heavily switches like the Clippers, that has Kyle Lowry written all over it. Tyler Herro had a decent game as well, but the ball would’ve most likely been in his hands more often if they were facing drop coverage all night.


Looking at the clips above, he does one thing so well in these spots, and it’s getting big guys on their heels once he gets the full commitment on the switch. Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, usually puts together a full back dive to the rim before utilizing close to 10 pump-fakes, but Lowry does quite the opposite.

After seeing it work to perfection in the fourth, it raises an interesting question: why did it take that long?

It felt like that would be the initial read in a close game like this without Butler, and ultimately, the length of time it took for Miami to get to it kind of hurt them.

Bam Adebayo, though, knew the plan coming in with that specifically. But sticking to it was the problem there.

A hot topic with Adebayo for quite some time is punishing smaller defenders in the post. It’s something Lowry has helped with a ton through his re-insertions whenever Bam would try to pass it back out to Lowry on the perimeter.

Last night, he was going to find guards on him down there frequently, and he didn’t waste any time.

An early back-down on Batum was a great sign to start out the game, turning around with zero hesitation to shoot right over the top of him. A little later, Adebayo did something a little similar by backing down Reggie Jackson, which although the whistles were flying all over the place, he ended up getting the bucket to further the theme.

But something to make note of is this was all the first quarter.

As I said before, he exploded in that quarter, but the most important thing about it was that he adjusted to what the defense was giving him and made the most of it. But when that second adjustment came in throughout the game to double Adebayo on the catch, they just resorted to simple kick-outs and spot-up threes.

Which frankly is not their game this season.

No Jimmy Butler means the minor things he provides are magnified. One of those things is the way he can slow down the game down the stretch once it gets choppy. And the second thing is finding mismatches and attacking them against teams like this.

Miami did it for two quarters with two different players, but finding the balance to slowly sustain it throughout 48 minutes is the key element. This doesn’t need to be put on blast with Butler on the floor, but without him, it jumps off the screen.


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Losing Jimmy Butler Meant Losing the Fall-Back Plan

Coach Erik Spoelstra looks down the line to make his usual Jimmy Butler substitution in the second quarter, but there was one issue. Butler was back in the locker room with a sprained ankle, ruling him out for the rest of the game.

We’ve seen this Heat team without Kyle Lowry in Indiana. We’ve seen this Heat team without Bam Adebayo in Memphis. But after seeing them without Jimmy Butler, it’s clear he creates the biggest team gap.

Even though Miami really feel apart in Indiana without Lowry, that wasn’t just due to the lack of his presence. Nobody on Miami had it going that night, including Butler, which just meant it was “one of those nights.”

The main thing they did lose in that game without him was that increased speed in spurts to get out and run on the break. The current rank of this Heat team’s pace may surprise you with how low it is, but the Lowry minutes are clearly much different.

But, as much as that increased speed is important to this team with Lowry, the ability to slow it down with Jimmy Butler may hold even more importance.

Late in the fourth and overtime, the Heat seemed to be in a bit of a rush. Do we force the ball into the hands of Tyler Herro who is being blanketed by Avery Bradley? Do we await the Kyle Lowry scoring stretch that never ultimately came? Or do we ride it out with Bam Adebayo?

If Butler was playing, these questions wouldn’t be looming.

Lowry would still be creating a ton, but the initial action wouldn’t be the pocket pass to Adebayo for the defense to hone in on. It would be some off-ball actions which eventually lead to a Butler drive with an empty corner, giving Miami some diversity and change of speed.

Looking at the trajectory he was on in this game, the free throw line was going to have his foot print all night. Through that quick early stretch, he went 5 for 5 from the charity stripe, which was actually Miami’s only outlet before Tyler Herro really started rolling upon entering.


Now, while Miami lost that specific game speed fall-back plan, they quickly looked to Bam Adebayo in a way they haven’t all season through a full quarter. And the fact that it was the first time we’ve seen that is slightly problematic.

Adebayo received one Lowry lob to kick off the third quarter, and exploded from there. As I said after the third, it was by far the best all-around quarter from him that I’ve seen all season. Scoring 14 points in a multitude of ways through self creation, hitting back-door cutters in space like it was nothing, and absolutely swarming Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook all night.

I’ve seen some scrutiny in his direction after this one, but it shouldn’t be. Obviously the evaluation of Duncan Robinson seems to be the total focus after this one, shooting 3 of 13 from beyond the arc, which is more aligned with this game than the Adebayo discussion.

Bam was the one who gave them something they missed without Butler. Not just through his usual scoring. Not just due to his 6 steal night in Butler fashion. But instead the way he put pressure on the rim, which they had none of without Butler.

Settling for perimeter ball swings and spot-up threes on a night where you shot 27% from three, and 17% excluding Herro, is quite the choice. But yet again, it’s the elimination of the fall-back plan without Butler.

Yes, Lowry is hugely important to this Miami Heat offense in terms of getting all of the other guys in their spots, but in a tight game down the stretch, it isn’t just about getting the defense back and crossing the half-court line with 22 seconds on the shot-clock.

Some Butler perimeter scanning with the ball in his hands is the usual late-game go-to, and as much as some criticize him settling for jumpers in many of those situations, it’s a much more trusted way to operate.

In a game where the opposing team didn’t have their best player as well, in LeBron James, means that this isn’t the reason they lost, but it’s something to truly keep in mind moving forward.

Tyler Herro can get you 27 points on 50% shooting. Bam Adebayo can get you 28 points, 10 rebounds, and hold the opposing team’s 2 best players to 2 of 11 shooting. But they still need their slow motion offensive threat.

And well, it’s a long season. So getting these Butler-less late game reps is crucial, but hopefully not long term. A sprained ankle may raise an eyebrow of the timetable, but just ask Lowry how he handled it a week ago.

He took a day off, not a game, and kept it moving. And Butler is the same exact way, so take that how you like.


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A New Miami Heat Theme: Master Adjusters

The Miami Heat took down the Utah Jazz on Saturday night to improve to 7-2, while clearly embodying plenty of their identities.

For one, the number one theme of this Heat squad that comes to mind is toughness. Plainly through defensive grittiness, in the mud offensive nights, and fun skirmishes like the one between Kyle Lowry and Jordan Clarkson as Jimmy Butler and Markieff Morris slowly lurked as back-up.

As much as that theme will continue to take the cake, another primary theme seems to be rising up the charts. And although a lot of players on this team can fall under this category, it begins with the head of the snake, Erik Spoelstra.

The phrase “master adjuster” is one that I’ve used to describe Coach Spo in the past, specifically in a playoff series. You may think that he’s already played all of his cards, but before you know it, he throws a 2-3 zone at you and it shifts an entire series.

But the interesting thing about having options and weapons on a roster, is that you don’t have to necessarily hold everything for the post-season. You can have some creative fun in the regular season as well.

And yet, Erik Spoelstra is the reason Miami beat Utah on Saturday night…

How did Miami beat the Utah Jazz? Start with Erik Spoelstra…

Early in this game, and much of this season, we’re seeing Miami switch more than ever, but the players on the roster are clearly much more built for this defensive scheme. Guys can cover up in other positions really well, and they will just fully commit to a double if necessary. Hence, more threes are given up.

To that point, guys like Rudy Gobert were finding Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson on them constantly. And while it may not be Gobert exactly punishing them, it’s what quickly follows.

Jimmy Butler drops down, Gobert kicks, the Jazz swing, and an open three is found. Luckily for Miami, they weren’t dropping for the Jazz once again, but there were some stretches where they found themselves getting right back in the game, leading to a close halftime score.

So, what is the adjustment from there?

Coming into the third quarter, Spoelstra switched the Mike Conley assignment from Lowry to PJ Tucker, which may sound a little odd when you put it that way.

The reasoning behind it: the Jazz run a ton of 1-5 pick and rolls with Conley and Gobert, meaning when they go to that in the second half, Tucker can smoothly switch onto Gobert, as Bam Adebayo skips up the perimeter onto Conley.

In many ways, no mismatches are found.

Yes, you may say that the 7’1 Gobert is a mismatch for the 6’5 Tucker, but it’s no easy task to either score or rebound on him on the block. He may not have the length that can alter a shot, but he has the width.

Looking at all of the clips above, you can see the simple, yet major, adjustment in the second half. And that led to the Jazz scoring 2 points in that 3 minute stretch to start the quarter. All due to an assignment change.

Spoelstra clearly has more offensive weapons, but he has extra defensive options as well. Last season, he couldn’t really move guys around in this way, but this is just a brand new team.

The master adjusters.

Tyler Herro dictating opposing defenses, instead of defenses dictating his shot profile

Since we’re on the topic of making adjustments, that is what Tyler Herro has done this season.

Not just because he’s putting up crazy points in the scoring column. Not just because there was a shift in his role. But instead because he’s forcing adjustments in how he’s choosing to score.

What I mean by that is Herro has always been a very comfortable scorer against drop coverage, as he’s continually said it himself after games. The previous reasoning behind that was it was much more simple for him.

Get the ball at the top of the key, wait for the screen, hit the elbow, and pull.

Now, that isn’t the case anymore with the increasing eyes on him on a daily basis. Drop coverage doesn’t just equate to an open elbow pull-up, but it’s also a much different way of reading your on-ball defender.

And that’s the adjustment Herro has made.

He isn’t waiting to see the big drop, then say “oh, I’m gonna hit *that* spot all game.” Now it’s him doing what he chooses, and forcing the defense to adjust to him.

Looking at the first two clips above, we see two possessions where his on-ball defender goes under the screen, almost indecisive on what to do next. And while his mid-range mastering is still the case, that was an indication all night to let that ball go when they fly under.

And yet, that three-ball was falling.


Now, let’s move on to the second two clips, where we see the exact opposite. Defenders are flying way over the top of screens, and he immediately realizes it. He doesn’t run full speed to get away from the defender that’s out of the play. He just calmly dribbles as Bam slots into his spot on the roll, and an easy bucket comes out of it.

Or, as seen in the final clip, he can do what he does best and operate downhill with a ton of space against a big in that deep drop. Easy floater comes out of it, and an easy takeaway comes out of it.

These reads Herro is making as a scorer are brand new. Like I said, defenses aren’t dictating his shot profile, he’s dictating the defense.

Tyler Herro picking how to score, while Kyle Lowry picking when to score

Herro’s adjustment has been picking how to score against certain coverages, but Kyle Lowry continues to make the slow shift into when to score. And clearly, nobody was ever worried about that.

We know what Lowry is at this stage, and play-making and defense are going to come first. But don’t let that discredit his scoring ability, since even though it wasn’t dropping early in the season, it is now.

Taking a scan through some of his buckets from his 20 point triple-double masterpiece, the thing to focus on is the scoreboard. Why is that? Well, it continually felt like his points came when they were needed most.

Either following a Jazz scoring run or during a rough offensive possession, he always comes through.

If there’s one thing that truly sticks out about Lowry as a scorer, it’s that he picks those moments better than most players in this league. He can just sense when the guys around him are leaning on him to pull through, and that’s when he will let that ball go.

And combining these past two points, it’s what makes the Lowry-Herro minutes so interesting. These adjustments allow them to pick their offensive moments without stepping on each others toes, which is intriguing for a new combo that has no previous relationship.

When I asked Lowry after the game if Herro’s scoring is still “surprising” to him, he responded, “No, it’s not. He’s playing extremely well, and we’re going to continue to need this. He got hot, he hit 6 threes. He’s just gotta continue to keep going, and I think we’re giving him the confidence to be him. And he’s gonna keep getting better and better throughout the season.”

The next adjustment on the drawing board is going to come way down the line, but it’s the question marks next to the eventual return of Victor Oladipo. A potential Herro-Dipo back-court can be in store, and I’m not talking about a starting lineup.

Obviously there’s still so much to work out in terms of timetable and overall ability once he returns, but either way, they don’t need a ton from him. Some defensive pressure, an extra initiator, and a guy to take some pressure off Herro.

And per usual, Coach Spo will be ready to tackle that next rotational adjustment.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Utah

The Miami Heat took down the previously 7-1 Utah Jazz on Saturday night, following up an ugly loss to Boston. This wasn’t just one guy. Miami’s “big four” all contributed greatly on the offensive end, and they slipped away with a win after a wild ending.

So, here are five takeaways…

#1: Kyle Lowry setting the pace early…through scoring. 

The scoring at the half for Miami was pretty well spread out- Lowry: 12, Butler:10, Herro: 10, Adebayo: 10. But there’s no doubt that Lowry was the one to start Miami off. The three-ball was falling both off the dribble and off the catch, which is not something we saw early in the season. And in many ways, while the offense continues to trend in an upward spiral with post-ups and isolations, it’ll be needed for Lowry to mediate with the spot-up three. Another big offensive moment for him was waving off his teammates for a clear-out on the perimeter with Rudy Gobert switched onto him, and took him to school with an eventual mid-range following a smooth pull-back. If he can score to get Miami out of holes this season, it changes things, and I’m not just talking about transition pace.

#2: Yeah, in terms of foul calls, Jimmy Butler doesn’t ever need to play the flopping game.

I’m not bringing this point up because Jimmy Butler exploded at the free throw line, which he didn’t, but instead the ways he draws contact. That body contact initiation isn’t just because of shooting a couple from the charity stripe, but due to the fact it gets him into full shooting rhythm. There aren’t many players better at using the shoulder in the progress of his two steps to the basket, before pulling back for the mid-range. And well, it’s even better when they’re falling. It felt like that was the case for all 4 of Butler’s first half field goals. As Spoelstra said, it’s nothing to worry about because he isn’t a “flopper.” He’s just physical.

#3: This Heat team looks much more comfortable against drop.

I know this is a lot of offensive centric talk for two teams that are in the top 3 of defensive rating, but this jumped out. Tyler Herro is well known for his navigation against drop, and even more-so now that he’s added more to his bag in the mid-range. But in terms of middie navigation against drop, we know that already. But it doesn’t end there. Bam Adebayo had some miscues early upon where to go with the ball, but his best moments came as a roller. Slotting right in the correct spots for easy opportunities, leading to a confused Hassan Whiteside after a slam and timeout. To these points, it was a lot more inside basketball early on, as Utah doubled Miami’s first half three point attempts.

#4: A second half defensive adjustment from Miami.

This wasn’t really the defensive game that we expected from both teams, but there were interesting adjustments from both sides throughout. The main one was that Miami was switching a ton to start this game, leading to perfect perimeter ball movement from Utah before feeding it to the inside with a guard on a bigs’ back. Plus, I should mention, every one of those switches were coming from 1-5 pick and rolls. So, the adjustment from Miami’s side to start the second half was giving PJ Tucker the Mike Conley assignment, meaning the incoming switch would leave Bam Adebayo on Conley and Tucker on Gobert. Simply, no mismatch territory.


#5: Tyler Herro’s mid-range specialty step aside. The three has arrived.

Tyler Herro’s scoring inside the arc has been the highlight of his year so far. Carving out the middle of the floor against drop, utilizing more than just his rookie year snake dribble. But tonight wasn’t just Herro letting the defense dictate the shots he would take. It was Herro dictating how to defend him late. Plenty of possessions the defender would go under the screen and Herro would make him pay. Catch and shoot threes aren’t going to be his role much more going forward. It’s the step-in pull after the defense picks their poison, and he took advantage of that tonight.


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The Heat’s Second Quarter Vs Dallas is an Eye Opener

The Miami Heat entered the second quarter with 24 points on the scoreboard last night. Twelve minutes of game-time later, they were walking into the visiting locker room in Dallas with 70 points next to their logo.

Yeah, you can say they had an explosive quarter to say the least.

Miami shot 17 of 25 from the field in that stretch, which can also be displayed as 68%. The eye opener about that was the three-point shooting was fully revived in that span, going 8 of 9 from deep.

They key element there: when those triples are dropping for this team, they are absolutely deadly.

Anyway, after going through this entire quarter from the Heat, let’s take a walk through some of the things that stood out, which was headlined by the offensive end…

The Markieff Morris Post Usage

Looking through the clips above, you can see why Coach Erik Spoelstra raves about the versatility of Markieff Morris.

He’s actually used in a lot of the same spots that Bam Adebayo sets up in, which makes their minutes together so interesting. It’s setting up in that inner wing in the post, while a bunch of layers are added on top of that off the ball.

The first clip shows the ability for him to score in that position, and it’s a play I’ve brought up a lot with Kyle Lowry and Adebayo. Lowry inserts the ball to him and totally clears to indicate that it’s go time for Bam in that set.

With Morris, though, that safety blanket is there for him with Lowry on that wing. The defender drops down as much as he can, before Morris gets in good position and rises over the top of Tim Hardaway Jr for the bucket.

In the second clip, Morris gets another mismatch on the baseline, and look at the eyes of all the defenders.

Immediately everybody’s focused on that incoming double and the rotations that would quickly follow. Tyler Herro, on the other hand, doesn’t let the defense get comfortable. He loops around the perimeter and receives the ball for a catch and shoot three while his defender is still gazing at Morris on the baseline.

Lastly, the final clip shows Morris shift from that post position into a dribble hand-off with Lowry, which ends up right back in the hands of Morris on the roll. He hits Adebayo on the loop around and an and-1 comes out of it.

You get the point. Having the option to run this much offense through a role player like Morris has really proven to help the overall flow of this group. And due to his mid-range jumper falling regularly to start the season, he can heat up quick.

The Tyler Herro Run

Tyler Herro is no longer just a bottle of energy. He’s a bottle of energy and production.

You insert him into the game and 17 minutes later he’s got 17 points. This isn’t just considered a hot stretch anymore, this is just Tyler Herro.

This second quarter included a lot of big moments from him, since his 15 points in this quarter was a big reason Miami exploded for 46.

Kyle Lowry pushing the pace in transition per usual, before he redirects right into the way of oncoming traffic. Herro is in that trailing bunch, as Lowry hands it off to him and he doesn’t think twice about firing. Bucket.

The intriguing part about that play is the ball left Herro’s hand with 19 seconds left on the shot clock. I must say that is a lot different than what we’re used to.

It’s not that Miami’s just out-speeding ever single team, since they’re actually not as high as you think in pace so far, but instead it’s the looks being generated in that fast pace when Lowry is on the floor.

We hear a lot about “Kyle chaos,” but that second clip above showcases a little bit of “Tyler chaos.”

He’s trying to create something out of nothing with the shot-clock trickling down, as two defenders collapse on top of him on the drive. That was a theme for Dallas’ defense last night, since they were really closing off the paint on Herro to start off the game, leading to him shifting into more outside shots.

Following that block, he repossesses the ball, fades away, and drops it through the net in a wild fashion.

But once again, this is just Tyler Herro doing Tyler Herro things.

The Back and Forth

It’s always fun when two talented players get in an incredible shoot-out in a quarter where neither can miss. That usually consists of the top players in the league in a headlined show-down, but last night, it was Luka Doncic and Tyler Herro.

I discussed some of the shots he was generating in the last section, but the difference with this stretch is the way he reacts to a faster paced game. Not when Lowry is dictating it, but when the opposing team is dictating it.

Doncic buries a wild scoop layup where he thinks he got fouled as he looks over at the ref, and Herro is already about to cross half-court. He runs right by the much slower Dwight Powell, and lays it in with a scoop layup of his own.

Not many players want to play a game of “horse” with Doncic due to his absurd shot-making and ability to catch fire quick, but Herro isn’t scared at all.

In the second clip, shortly after that layup, Doncic tries to take Herro in isolation as he sizes up for a tough step-back three on the wing. It clanks off the rim to PJ Tucker who gives it to Jimmy Butler, while the only Heat player not in frame is Tyler Herro.

Where is he? All the way down the floor awaiting the throw down.

Butler then hits him and it’s Herro’s turn to have this dance. Similarly, he steps back to his left in the face of Doncic and buries the contested triple.

Kyle Lowry Finding His Shot

It was a good time for Kyle Lowry to find his shot last night, but it’s not even about the makes. It’s about how he picks his shots.

The second quarter for him consisted of 3 attempts from deep which is higher than usual, but he knocked down all 3 of them in that span. He’s not always going to put that many up, but he waits for the right time when the team needs a bucket from him.

So, let’s look at these attempts.

In the first clip, this is the way Herro and Lowry can benefit from each other so much. Herro gets the ball and drives baseline, but just look at all 5 blue jerseys. You would think the guy with the scoring title had the ball in his hands.

Herro hits a wide open Lowry at the top of the key, and we all know he won’t miss many of those.


The next clip is fast forwarded toward the end of the quarter, where the Heat can elect to go 2 for 1. Lowry ends up going with his well known transition pull-up three and makes his third of the quarter, which is something we should see a lot this season.

He’s not taking anything away from others with this type of shot. It’s basically a “free play” in football terms, and Lowry always knows how to take advantage of those possessions.

The last clip is what I mean by Lowry’s ability to choose specific times to let it go. It was a pretty ugly possession with the current spacing and movement, but Lowry ends up getting it back in a tight corner. Looked like another late shot-clock heave was coming, but he doesn’t let it get to that point.

He takes the most difficult shot possible with a hand in his face as he’s moving left in the corner, but he still knocks it down somehow. Much like how Herro was doing Herro things, Kyle Lowry was doing Kyle Lowry things.

Dewayne Dedmon: The Release Valve

When the Heat brought back Dewayne Dedmon, it was such a smart move. A trusted back-up big, added rebounding, and known toughness. But I don’t think anybody realized how much he really brings to the offense.

Like I said, he’s the release valve for most of Miami’s sets.

Things breakdown, the shot clock is ticking down, and a double is coming, the ball will probably find Dedmon on the roll or under the rim. And frankly, there’s about a 90% chance or higher Dedmon makes an awkward sky-hook in the meantime.

The clip above is a great example, as Herro gets stuck with the shot clock at 7 seconds. He hits Dedmon and flies across to receive the hand-off right back. Both defenders try and trap Herro as he’s driving baseline but he finds Dedmon, the release valve, on the roll and scores.

This isn’t just a one time thing. Or even a one game thing. This is multiple possessions each and every night.

“He gives us a different kind of feel at the center position than Bam. And he has a great knack for the ball, offensive rebounding, sliding into open spots and making himself available so he can finish in the paint, and he has a good touch at the rim for a big,” Spoelstra said when I asked him about Dedmon after last night’s win.

“Couldn’t be happier about the minutes and productivity he’s given from that position.”


“And Bam, who should win defensive player of the year,” said Kyle Lowry on the post-game interview on TNT last night.

This defensive stuff from Adebayo is no longer going to go unnoticed. Opponents are currently shooting 28% when Bam is guarding them this season, which doesn’t even almost project the whole story regarding his importance and talent on that end.

Stats say one thing, but film says another. Just take a look at this play above on Luka Doncic.

Doncic waves his hand around to get enough space to take Adebayo in isolation, but he clearly doesn’t know what’s coming. He tries some hesitations on the face-up but there is no bite coming from Adebayo’s end. He then turns into post position, which gets even worse for him real quick.

He gives him two bumps and spins for his usual over the top one-legged shot attempt, but Bam is waiting for him on the turn. He follows that up with a few fakes and fades away for the shot, while Adebayo is absolutely blanketing him with perfect contention, leading to an air ball.

That play represents him as a defender.

Nobody can breathe or take a break when they find him on the perimeter, while it’s usually the exact opposite when big men switch out onto guards or wings.

He’s just in a different category on that end, but he needs to be in the same category of defensive player of the year.

Adebayo’s continually been a top defender in this league, but the stat watchers who vote always sell him short. But that 28% that his opponents are shooting should be as big of a stat as any for him to get that award at the end of the year.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Orlando

The Heat took down the Orlando Magic on Monday night to improve to 2-1 on the season. Jimmy Butler led the way with an outstanding bounce back, while others sprinkled in some other things behind him.

So, let’s take a dive into some takeaways from this game…

#1: All eyes on Tyler Herro.

Tyler Herro has had a pretty incredible start to the season, kicking it off with a 27 point night then following it up with a 30 point night. A main takeaway from those games: he had a ton of attention on him…after he got rolling. It was a different story tonight, as once Tyler Herro’s name was announced across the arena, there was a united understanding on the defensive side of the ball for Orlando: hound him. Hedging pick and rolls, guards full out blitzing, and much more. What did that mean for him in the first half? Find Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and that’s exactly what he did, leading to a combined 34 point half for those two. And that will be expanded upon more as the opposing scouting report continues to hone in on it.


#2: Jimmy Butler comes out with a purpose after his poor performance.

If you watched Jimmy Butler against Indiana, you’d know he wasn’t himself. Efficiency was terrible, and as he said after the game, he allowed that to dictate his defense. In this game, he turned that around completely. 24 points on 11 for 13 shooting through 17 and a half first half minutes is a clear indicator. The interesting part is that only 2 of the 24 points came from the free throw line, but you don’t need fullback Jimmy when he’s knocking down those easy bunnies and mid-range jumpers. Were those points just being generated through Kyle Lowry’s presence? Part of them were, but the 4 first half steals can pretty much tell you he was generating stuff for himself as well.

#3: Miami’s offense is back…I wonder why.

From tip-off, the Heat were not only getting out on the break at a higher rate, but half-court sets were flowing. What led to the turnaround? His name is Kyle Lowry. It wasn’t Butler and Adebayo reverting back to late year’s play-style anymore. It was them receiving the ball right in their spots, just focusing in on that off-ball movement that each of them are so good at. In terms of the transition offense, it’s pretty obvious why it’s called “Kyle chaos” among the team: nobody can truly keep up with it. Guys like Adebayo and Herro are embracing that style of play to fully sprint down the floor, but it’s another thing to be in the right spot at the right time with the right peripheral vision. That stuff will come over time, but having that Lowry base will pay off majorly as the season continues.

#4: Markieff Morris embracing the offensive role necessary.

Something I’ve been talking about with Markieff Morris since he arrived has been the offensive spotting that he finds himself in. A main reason he’s been toward the bottom of many rosters recently is due to that inefficient deep ball that continues to pop up year after year. How can they maximize him then? Well, making him a roll/mid-range threat is the obvious way. It’s only the third game of the regular season, and we’re seeing it repeatedly. Toward the end of the third quarter, his stat-line read: 10 points, 5 for 5 shooting, zero 3 point attempts. Shortly after, he clanked a triple off the side of the rim, and followed that up with a big shot from the corner, but the point still stands. He has a chance to really thrive in this role, and three point attempts aren’t the way to do that. A potential shift in his front-court mate may enhance him even more though.

#5: A point of emphasis for Max Strus: get up shots.

Max Strus’ role is clear with this team, provide spacing and shoot the ball. As he said after practice when I talked to him, his role is to get Tyler Herro the ball, but could he be taking that too literally? He had 1 shot attempt up until the beginning of the fourth, before letting a wide open three go in the corner. But that play kind of projected his entire mindset. He had the open corner three initially, but swung to a covered Herro. Herro then gave it right back to him as he knocked down that shot. But focusing on his shot attempts will be crucial for him. They need him to score in this role, even if Herro and one of Butler, Adebayo, and Lowry are on the floor. He’s been doing a lot of other things well such as taking charges frequently, but those attempt numbers will need to rise. And not just the late-game heaves after the game is decided that he loves.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Preseason Win Vs Rockets

The Miami Heat basically had a copy and pasted version of Monday night, coming out the gates with a fast-pace, good defensive principles, and plenty of scoring. The Jimmy Butler-Kyle Lowry dynamic was seen for the first time, but it was actually the Tyler Herro-Duncan Robinson show.

So, here are five takeaways from the second preseason game…

1: The voice of PJ Tucker: a missing piece on the past Heat roster.

Before looking into the X’s and O’s of this game altogether, something sticks out even more. One thing pops out inside a Miami Heat practice, and it’s that Jimmy Butler isn’t the loudest player on the court at all times. PJ Tucker never stops talking, and not in a bad way. From discussing things with teammates to yelling at referees in an in-house practice scrimmage, he’s constantly invested. We saw that a bit tonight when Rockets coach Stephen Silas caught the ball as it traveled out of bounds, leading to Tucker reacting as if it was a blown call in game 7 of the Finals. And well, Miami’s missed that one thing more than anything.

#2: Oh yeah, this Heat team needed a true point guard.

We can’t talk enough about the acquisition of Kyle Lowry to this roster. Point of attack defense, off-ball abilities, and pure scoring on the ball. But while Miami can use all of that, nothing seems as crucial as that play-making skill that he brings every night. No more Bam Adebayo head swiveling as a passer every play. No more overusing Jimmy Butler through 82 regular season games. They have a quarterback now. Starting the game with a Lowry pass to a trailing Adebayo then following it up with a lob to Butler sums up the acquisition. He plugs Miami’s weaknesses, and it’s only the second game of the preseason.

#3: Duncan Robinson had a fantastic 14 point first half, and it wasn’t close to his full potential.

The off-season improvements from Duncan Robinson have been interesting to keep track of. Seeing him drive the ball to the basket in isolation for a bucket shows that he’s slowly building the secondary options in his bag, yet the primary skill’s consistency still holds the most importance. In the first half, he scored 14 points, knocking down 3 triples, but something else is essential to note: that wasn’t close to his best offensive showing. That box score almost came as a bit of a surprise, since he’s held to such a high standard at this point. But the overarching takeaway is one thing and one thing only: Robinson fits this current roster perfectly, and the longer the season, the more he will shine.


#4: Bam Adebayo seems like he isn’t getting bored on the offensive end again.

One comment from Bam Adebayo on media day summed up last season. He mentioned trying to mix up his offensive game without getting bored in scoring from specific spots. Those areas last season consisted of that elbow jumper and play-making kick-outs/DHO reps. And if you watched the first half of this game, it’s not just about the 15 points in the scoring column as the team leader at the half, but instead the diversity in his shot attempts. Fast-break scoops from Lowry, lob passes on the roll, and surprisingly, some good looks in the low post. While many were worried about him stretching his range out to the three-point line, I’d like to see him utilize his game under the basket a bit more. And that seems to be the case at this stage.

#5: Biggest change from year to year: energy and smiles.

Once again, we’ve talked a lot about the on-court aspect of this new Heat team. But when watching these games on TV, something truly jumps off the screen: the smiles on everybody’s face when playing. I haven’t seen them enjoying basketball this much since the bubble, which makes a ton of sense, since we’re essentially seeing a team play in 3 different seasons in the past 365 days. Combining a true off-season and a change of scenery on the roster seemed to do the trick, and rightfully so. Tyler Herro is a huge proponent of that, since his overall attitude to put in the work is hugely translating to his on-court play with another big performance. And when Herro is playing with all smiles, he is at his best. Just go re-watch his rookie season.


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Breaking Down Lowry’s Impact, Herro’s Role, and Adebayo’s Pacing

The Miami Heat came out in their first preseason game in an interesting fashion. With Jimmy Butler getting the night off, Tyler Herro stepped into the starting lineup with the usual crew, playing next to newcomer Kyle Lowry.

Before diving into specifics, there is one overarching thought that should be addressed: the things discussed about Lowry’s immediate impact on this team weren’t being overstated.

He changes the speed of the team, the energy of the team, and well, it’s something fresh.

Just like Bam Adebayo stated on media day, he was getting bored of being in the same spots on the floor every night. When playing next to Lowry, though, you must always be on your toes for that ball to fall right into your hands in stride.

Guys like Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin had great flashes as well, but in this piece, we’re going to focus on that starting group only. So, let’s hop right into it…

Lowry-Herro-Adebayo Three Man Sets:

I focused a lot on three-man sets when predicting the offensive actions Miami would run. The difference is that I said the Lowry-Robinson-Adebayo trio would be run the most.

But after Herro was inserted into the starting lineup, they began to run things with a purpose, looking like that group has been preparing in these slotted roles throughout the entire camp.

Looking at the first clip above, it’s simple: Lowry orchestrating, Adebayo screening for Herro to come off the curl, a 2 on 1 is forced, and Herro lobs it up for Adebayo to throw down. You know what I notice here? Comfort.

The other thing about this grouping is that it doesn’t always have to be Lowry setting others up, since his off-ball skill is absolutely a treasure. When I watched that scrimmage last Friday, one of my main takeaways with Herro was that the ball was going to be in his hands a ton. Emphasis on “a ton.”

And yet, that carried over quite a bit.

In that second clip, Herro comes up to receive the ball as Lowry relocates to the right wing. The 2 on 1 is forced pretty effortlessly as Adebayo slips, but something else stands out more.

Just watch Lowry and Trae Young. Obviously focusing on the defensive stuff with Young isn’t important, but notice the downhill space Herro is given. There’s no cut-off at the nail with Lowry being such a spot-up threat, leading to more and more lob opportunities. Or better yet, the floater.

Herro talked a little bit after the game about using that floater, even though it’s been in his bag for some time. He mentioned finding that middle ground instead of continuing to take it up on centers at the rim every play.

What is the difference with that floater now? It’s slowed down. He knew when the lob pass was being thrown up or when to shoot up that tear dropper. Even when the game is being played at a faster pace, he looks like he’s playing slower with the ball in his hands, and that’s a difference maker.

Finally, in the last clip, we see something a bit different. It clearly ended up in a failed lob pass, but the stuff run before that is more important. DHO’s have been a staple of this Heat offense for some time now, and while many hate to hear that phrase after it was previously spammed and overused, it isn’t going anywhere.

In fact, it’s going to be expanded upon. What I mean by that is that it won’t just be a Robinson-Adebayo set every time, since others can be mixed in positively. Just look at that final clip: Lowry hands it off to Adebayo and Adebayo hands it off to Herro for the double DHO.

DHO’s won’t be stagnant anymore. This stuff keeps the defense moving, and enhances each of those guys best skills. Let me just say, that three-man group will be effective. And it’s also clear the speed will be faster when all three of them are on the floor together.

Lowry’s First Three Tells Me Everything I Need to Know

When I say “Lowry’s first three,” I don’t mean ever. You may think that’s unnecessary to state, but it’s actually very necessary.

Aside from that, this one possession tells me a lot about this Heat offense this season.

Let’s start with that “speed” that continues to get brought up. The ball crosses half-court with 20 seconds on the shot clock, and the ball is being released with 18 seconds on the shot clock. That hasn’t been Miami Heat basketball up to this point, but it has been Kyle Lowry basketball.

Early offense could be crucial for this squad. Why is that? Well, the stuff that can be run early in the shot-clock heavily benefits this roster. Double drag ball screens, or just a simple drag as seen here.

Now, what is the second thing that stands out on this play? And no, it’s not Lowry.

Going back to that DHO discussion from before, it got pretty bland after a while because Adebayo was being forced into doing it every single time. When the team acquired PJ Tucker, I saw a plan rising out of nowhere.

Tucker may be somewhat limited offensively, but running hand-offs like this above is what will propel Adebayo even more. This allows him to play off the catch a bunch, and as seen yesterday, he got even more ball-handling reps than I originally expected.

The reason he was able to do that was because he was finally freed up. Tucker’s job will be simple this season, and Adebayo has needed “simple” in the front-court next to him for a while.

And of course, the last thing about this play is that Lowry above the break three. Miami has needed a guy who can punish defenses for going under on screens, and Lowry will do just that. It’s not about milking clock with him, it’s about getting the ball up when there’s an opening.

And once again, this Heat team missed that.

Is Adebayo’s Pace Just Due to Lowry’s Presence?

A hot topic since adding Lowry to this team was the pace that they could potentially play at. Coach Spo has typically played much more in the half-court in the past, but it was time to tend to the personnel.

I even asked Adebayo about playing at that speed in the scrimmage, which he said it’s important to get easy layups and fouls, since that’ll lead to open threes. And well, that was seen immediately in the first preseason game.

I talked about Adebayo getting in the open court nonstop last season, but this team translates to that way more. But is it just because of Lowry?

He’s a big part of that, but I wouldn’t say it’s just him. The first clip above will tell you why it’s not.

Lowry and Tucker defending the PnR, leads to Tucker stepping up for the steal and hitting the deck. Adebayo scoops and runs up the floor for the eventual foul.

What’s important about that? Well, that would’ve been Adebayo on the floor last season. They now have others who can play in the action at a high level, which hugely benefits Adebayo.


Now, of course, the majority of the credit goes to Lowry. Spo called him a quarter back to begin training camp, and that’s exactly what he is: full-court hit aheads, feeding the post, and the pure swing on the perimeter.

The second clip above is a true example of that. Lowry receives the ball on the run as the shot clock resets, and Adebayo is throwing it down on the other end with 20 seconds left on the clock. This looks different, but it’s a good different.

Some Spain PnR Already?

Not to continually bring up the DHO of the past, but there was a reason it was used so much: the team lacked offensive weapons, so they couldn’t really expand the offense broadly. But that changes this season.

We already got to see some Spain PnR, shout-out to Nekias Duncan of the Dunker Spot, and it didn’t consist of Butler and Lowry. I saw it a couple times in that Friday scrimmage, where Butler would have the ball, Adebayo would screen, and Lowry would screen the screener for the wide open lane.

Now we’re seeing it on the big stage with an interesting mix of guys. In that original clip, we see it lead into another Herro floater, and the reason is that he has the space every play to get it off.

For one, when Robinson screened the screener, that pop out to the wing will always pull the defender out with him. Nobody is leaving Robinson open on that pop out, which means more and more good things inside the arc for the downhill threats.

It’s not as much about them running stuff like Spain PnR yesterday, but instead, the ability to mix it up in a way they weren’t able to in the past.

Yeah, Half-Court Offense/Ball Movement is Different

This one play essentially is the theme of this team. Bringing up Lowry as a quarterback and a fast paced player doesn’t always mean in the open court. It’s more about how they can spread the floor, swing the ball, and create good looks.

Herro dribbles and passes to Lowry, Lowry throws a skip pass to the opposite corner to Robinson, Robinson gets to the middle of the floor and kicks it back out to Lowry in the corner, before a final swing to Herro for a contested three-point make.

That is new.

Now, I don’t want to sit here and compare the first preseason game to a playoff series last season, since they’re incredibly different circumstances, but it must be brought up.

It was stagnant offense, limited movement, limited passes, and just an offensive identity that wasn’t clear at all. Right now, I see a team that has more than enough space to work with on that side of the floor.

Go back and watch that play again. I don’t remember the last time the Heat had that much room in the half-court like they did yesterday. And while you may think a non-shooter like Butler could shrink the court, the passing and downhill gravity of his will only make this better.

It’s only one game, or one preseason game at that, but there are too many positive flashes to not feel good about this team. And well, a full off-season makes it seem like they’re fully energized for the season ahead.

Who would’ve thought?


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Five Takeaways from the Heat’s First Preseason Match

The Miami Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the pre-season tonight in quite a fashion. No Jimmy Butler, no problem. The rotational guys looked as effective as ever, showing a theme that’s super essential: it isn’t one guy, it’s everybody. If this Miami “team” becomes a problem, then wins will closely follow.

Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game. (And more importantly, the first of many for the season ahead)

#1: Kyle Lowry doing Kyle Lowry things, rubbing off on teammates immediately.

Well, Kyle Lowry found himself in the starting lineup for the first time in a Miami Heat uniform on Monday night, kicking off the preseason. We know what Lowry brings on a nightly basis: high level passing, off-ball talents, and strong point of attack defense. But rubbing off on teammates is the thing I noticed most. After Friday’s scrimmage, a primary takeaway of mine was that Lowry-Herro-Adebayo minutes would be fast, and clearly, they were just that. Finding ways to get those young talents out on the break was crucial, and we saw it already. It’s not just about darting down the open floor, but being set up in the open floor. And yet, QB1 Lowry will hit you in your spots.

#2: Third year Tyler Herro is in full effect.

Tyler Herro has been putting in the work all off-season, ready to attack his third season head first. So, he decided not to waste any time by scoring 20 points in the first half, going 8 of 11 from the field. The efficiency stuff is obviously important, but the speed in which he’s going about it is even more important. Starting the game with 2 floaters and a lob pass to Bam Adebayo pretty much told you he’s much more controlled in the pick and roll. He’s had that floater and lob pass in his bag for some time, but the indecisiveness when to use each one wasn’t the case tonight. Herro’s playing with a purpose, he’s playing in a simplified role, and simply, he’s getting buckets.

#3: Bam Adebayo with some more ball-handling duties.

Of course, without Jimmy Butler playing, things look a bit different, but some stuff is bigger than who is in or out of the lineup. The ball-handling duties are going to be spread between Lowry, Herro, Butler, and the young centerpiece, Bam Adebayo. Don’t worry, Herro and Lowry got plenty of reps in that role tonight, but seeing them both deferring to Adebayo in the half-court was a beautiful sight. Why is that? Well, as Adebayo said on media day, he began getting bored in scoring in the same old spots on the floor every night. In the first preseason game, though, he was spread throughout the half-court. Freeing him up in this way to be the talented on-ball player that he is takes this team to the next tier.

#4: A consistent evaluation: among the young group at the bottom of the roster, Caleb Martin sticks out.

The Heat’s two-way spots are pretty much a revolving door. At one point in this game, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin all shared the floor together for some pretty decent minutes on both ends. Why is that important? Well, not only is it abnormal for 2 past two-ways and 1 current two-way to be out there together, but more importantly, they all have a shot to contribute this season. Martin may have been the final addition to the roster, but it’s clear to many that it was an absolute steal. He is an athletic finisher, can create for himself at a high level, and really showed a hounding defensive presence on the perimeter. Coach Spo loves plug and play guys, and that is Caleb Martin. I’d expect to see him a bit this season.


#5: Miami’s front-court depth may not be perfect, but they have options.

The Heat’s front-court looks a bit different this season. Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon are the familiar faces in the rotation, but others are still trying to get acquainted. Omer Yurtseven and KZ Okpala may be at the bottom of that bunch as well, but rotational minutes don’t seem to be in reasonable reach to begin the year. The reason I discuss the team having options is due to PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. Before Tucker went out with an injury, he showed his role: corner threes and running DHO’s for the offensive threats. Morris, on the other hand, wasn’t getting the friendly roll from beyond the arc, but getting him to the middle of the floor by the free throw line seemed effective. The front-court has different skills across the board, and while they aren’t perfect, options are more important on this new squad.


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Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882