Tag Archive for: Miami Heat

Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro: Sharpening the Important Tools

We know what Bam Adebayo is as a defender. We know what Tyler Herro is as a scorer. Although one of those guys is a bit more consistent with his skill, we are still aware that both possess a pretty elite attribute more often than not.

But are those the most important areas of their game as the Heat push forward with the hope of these guys leading the way? Probably not.

Herro had 20 assists over the last 2 games. Adebayo had 70 points over the last 2 games.

If that doesn’t tell you what I am hinting at, I don’t know what to tell you.

The Herro-Bam pick and roll has been a Heat staple for some time. But late in the regular season last year, there was full realization that it was the team’s best action in the half-court.

It sliced up the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs for games 1 and 2, and it’s been slicing up teams on this Butler-less roster since Herro returned from injury.

Looking at the clips above, this is pretty much the base PnR look for these two. Forcing a 2-on-1 in the middle of the floor, while eyeing the help from either side of the floor and reacting.

While the Herro pull-up/floater is the true threat to pull it all together, the Adebayo alley-oop or mid-range pull off the pocket pass are the two most likely outcomes.

This PnR combo is actually averaging 1.35 points per possession this season, which is on high volume since it’s the most used PnR combo on the team.

But we know all of this about their base action already. The reason I bring it up is because we’re seeing the subtle wrinkles they’re throwing in the mix.

To open up the Heat-Wizards game, Adebayo set a pin-down for Herro to operate off of, as Kyle Lowry hits Herro on a curl. This forces another version of a 2-on-1 for Herro and Bam, except they’re both running full speed downhill with a shrunken floor.

Win for the Heat offense since there is no help.

A lob to Bam gets things started.

Fast forward to this game against the Hawks, the Heat waited for the beginning of the third quarter to get into this bag of tricks. Herro flies into the curl 2 separate plays with the same exact result.

That dropping big’s job is to contain in middle ground, yet there’s no middle ground when it comes to a pull-up threat and a lob threat.

This is just one very simple adjustment for these two, and there are many more complex ones to come I assume, most likely closer to the playoffs.

But the reason I bring all of this up right now: Adebayo the scorer and Herro the play-maker can shift this Heat offense completely.

I’ll start on the more obvious Adebayo front by saying he needs to be a primary option on the offensive end for this team consistently. Actually, he needs to be *the* option.

How do the Heat figure out this starting lineup dilemma when fully healthy?

While that conversation has many different answers, the simplest one is Adebayo. When he is gone to early in games, he’s hard to stop past that point. He’s a rhythm player who needs sets run for him to create positive offense for the rest of the group.

Butler has interior gravity and can work the drive and kick game immensely, but he doesn’t shift an entire defense like Adebayo potentially could. The most teams will do to Butler is send the occasional double team, but the entire defense will pinch when it’s Adebayo attacking your drop big in the middle of the floor.

It’s a very obvious statement, but Adebayo the scorer is the most important development for this Heat team.

But do you want to hear a close second?

Tyler (Herro) the Creator. More specifically, the play-maker.

Since I brought up that 76ers series earlier in this piece, let’s go back to it. They found a way to make Herro uncomfortable by putting two on the ball, but what is the counter to that other than not calling for the screen in the first place?

Quick decisions and perfect passes.

If you look at the clips I provided previously, Herro’s way of hitting the roller in these last two games has been eye opening. And if he can hit that pocket pass enough, teams aren’t just going to be *okay* with letting Adebayo run 4-on-3’s on that backside.

These two young guys have this underlying skill within them, it’s just about channeling it and being willing to more often. Butler and Lowry would love for these two guys to take the reigns, and it’s in the team’s best interest to maximize those two guys for the post-season the best they could. (Obviously by getting to a comfortable spot in the standings first.)

We’ve been talking about them sharpening these tools for a while now, but we’ve approached the time period where these tools are ready to be used. Consistently.

Not just as fun offensive wrinkles, but to be the entire Miami Heat offensive base.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

The Miami Heat kicked off an important road trip in Atlanta, and put together some pretty good basketball without Jimmy Butler.

That was headlined by Bam Adebayo yet again, while Caleb Martin shined right behind him.

So here are some takeaways from this win…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s scoring growing, while the side quests remain the same.

After a 38 point night against the Washington Wizards for Bam Adebayo, he came out firing yet again. His consistent goal is to hunt for his spot in the middle of the floor, as he can rise over the top for the jumper. They were also running sets for him out of the mid-post, while embodying the grab and go system so he can operate in transition. The scoring game is growing. But as I said in the headline, the other stuff isn’t declining. The amount of stuff on his plate is insane to watch: covering up everything at the bottom of the zone when the point of attack gets blown by, finding a body to box-out to clean up the boards, and running down the floor to be the one and only action hub as his constant screening is necessary. Yet with all of that said, he didn’t seem to be slowed down in any area. The Bam Adebayo surge is a good thing to see.

#2: Max Strus back, Max Strus comes out as only source of perimeter punch.

While Adebayo was the main punch in an all-around sense, Max Strus was the initial provider on the perimeter. As the offense tries to find themselves without Jimmy Butler, the one thing that’s clear is they need to shoot the ball well from the outside, which just hasn’t been the case. The connecting factor, though, to outside shooting is paint touches, which Miami made a priority early. Strus hit two threes to begin the game off a Kyle Lowry drive and Caleb Martin attack. Aside from the pick and roll spam or occasional Adebayo hub in mid-post, this is the only other scoring supplier. After Strus missed some time, the Heat are very fortunate that he came back firing away in this sense, since if there’s one thing about Strus, it’s that he can get shots up no matter the coverage, time stamp, etc. When it comes to positives in that first half, we stop after these two guys.

#3: A lineup for Miami sums certain things up…

Dru Smith-Strus-Haywood Highsmith-Jamal Cain-Dewayne Dedmon. That was a lineup for an extended period early in this game, which pretty much gives us some perspective on where the Heat stand on bodies. I often write about the individual struggles or positives from these guys, but when watching them all out there together, there’s not much to overly analyze. There’s just not much expectation for good stuff to be taken from it. Dedmon actually gave some good minutes for a stretch and these guys got stops, but as you would expect, they have limitations. The Hawks expanded a lead before the starters came back in, but I just can’t sit here and put the focus on a bunch of undrafted guys who were playing in Sioux Falls anywhere from a few months ago to a few weeks ago. At the half, they needed more from their starting back-court to push them forward, so the bench mob’s job can be battling to stay neutral.

#4: Tyler Herro altering the focus in the 3rd.

With Adebayo’s hot start in the first half, they needed to find a way to 1) keep him involved in the second half and 2) have it come without him having to create it all himself. And well, the answer to that riddle is Tyler Herro. As I’ve talked into the ground for some time, the Herro-Bam PnR is the best action on this Heat team. The Heat used a variation of that in the 3rd quarter, and didn’t go away from it. Lowry creating at the top of the offense, Adebayo setting a pindown for Herro, which flows into a curl for Herro and Bam to operate in a 2-on-1. Dribble, lob, dunk. The next time down, we see the same exact set-up. The result: dribble, lob, dunk. Fast forward a few plays later, they run it for a third time, and the Hawks didn’t adjust. The only change was his lob ended up being a goal-tend instead of a converted alley-oop. The beginning of the 3rd quarter was the same action being spammed over and over and over, before the ball movement took the offensive steering wheel the rest of the way. Herro finished with the first triple double of his career.

#5: Caleb Martin’s 4th quarter counter.

The Hawks wanted Caleb Martin to settle for the catch and shoot three in the half-court all night, but no matter the possession, he just would not fall into the trap. Pause, look, attack. His paint touches were crucial, and off-ball cuts provided very nice boosts through the first three quarters. And then the start of the 4th quarter hit. He continues to be a dominant transition player for this team, since he’s patient enough to wait for his fast-break defender to settle on him. Once he can go 1-on-1, he makes that euro step and he’s basically got you right where he wants. He’s an athlete, just like Bam Adebayo, so they’re treating them like athletes. The other element of Martin’s play that has stood out is his creation, not only for himself but for others. The handle is tighter, the shiftiness is there, and don’t get me started on the way he attacks his defenders front foot. Martin’s ascension this season has been one of the true bright spots.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Washington

The Miami Heat faced the Washington Wizards once again on Friday night, and it was the Bam Adebayo night.

A dominant offensive performance from start to finish, as he led Miami into a much needed two game win streak.

So, some takeaways from this one…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s early offensive dominance.

Bam Adebayo’s first half was pretty eventful on the offensive end: 22 points on 9 of 10 shooting is a pretty insane stat-line. But it was more about the shot profile since it wasn’t repetitive at all. It started out with a heavy dosage of Herro-Bam PnR, which was expected in this match-up against drop. Some early buckets off the roll boosted energy and confidence for him, leading into some early shot-clock work on some face-up jumpers and attacks. One possession stood out though to kick off this game, since I love when they run sets for Bam: Herro handling, Jovic pin-down on the left box for Bam to operate off a curl, leading to a bucket in the mid-range. More. They continued to let him work on the move which is the key, but that type of efficiency is just so impressive. The most important thing for this team’s success is to prioritize getting Bam going early in games.

#2: The Wizards defensive game-plan in the bench minutes.

In these two-game sets, it’s kind of like a mini playoff series. Minor adjustments are utilized back and forth, meaning counter punches are being thrown on the fly. Once again, not playoff sized counters, but simply and minor ones. For instance, the Wizards had an approach that made a whole lot of sense against Miami’s lineups with a front-court of Highsmith-Cain-Dedmon. Or we can even simplify it down to the two-man combo of Highsmith and Cain. Since they’re being utilized as the spacers, the Wizards were shading over hard at Lowry and Herro as primary ball-handlers. Once they would draw a mismatch like Porzingis, Wes Unseld would wave his hands to send the double. Herro or Lowry have to swing, Highsmith or Cain ends up getting it in the corner, and the lack of a quick pull means they can rotate/recover quickly. That’s just the result of those type of lineups, but an intriguing wrinkle to note.

#3: More eyes on Caleb Martin playing the wing.

Watching Caleb Martin’s movement in this game again, it’s clear that he’s comfortable as an attacker at the moment. Part of that is the match-ups he’s seeing from Washington, as he voiced to me on Wednesday, but there’s also the element of playing a lot at the three, while Highsmith and Cain play the “Martin” role for now. I will say that this team needs his on-ball slashing a lot more right now than when the full starting lineup is out there, since a lot of guys are demanding the ball, but that’s exactly what puts this into some perspective. If he can slide over to the bench with more usage and better match-ups while not having to size up, that’s the goal in my opinion. The unwillingness to stick with Jovic tells me that change won’t be made until we see a trade, but the point still stands that *this* is the role for Martin.

#4: A counter punch by Miami in terms of adjustments.

As I went over these two-game sets being mini playoff series, Erik Spoelstra wasn’t going to let Unseld and crew have all the fun with adjustments. As the Heat needed some added juice in the third quarter, Spo mixed up the coverages a bit away from the 2-3 zone. As I talked about on Wednesday, the Martin-Highsmith-Cain-Bam minutes are a waste of zone time. That’s a team that can switch around a bit, which is exactly what Spo went to in that span. This created a bit of a run, as Highsmith did a good job switching, Bam shut the water off on the perimeter, and some stops led to transition buckets for Martin and company. I’m totally for the reliance on zone with the roster that’s being utilized at the moment, but I also feel like there are pockets of time where it can use a break, as seen in that span.

#5: Another look into the late-game approach.

As the Heat had an uphill climb while trailing throughout the 4th quarter, the Heat’s approach didn’t waver. Bam Adebayo was still the primary option, as he would receive it in that mid-post almost every possession to set up offense. A bucket mid-way through the quarter put him up to 32, while the following play a goal-tend at the rim increased it to 34. Heat trail 98-96. After a stop, Lowry bursts by the point of attack, draws help from both corners, kicks to Bam in the right corner, who immediately flows into a hand-off with Herro who hits a fading three in the deep corner. But the Wizards answer right back with a bucket and a trip to the free throw line, giving the lead back to Washington 102-99. Out of a timeout, Herro gets stuck off the dribble again, swinging the ball to Lowry on the left wing. Shot clock ticking, he sizes up, and fires over Kuzma, converting on the and-1 triple to give Miami another sign of life. Fast forward to under a minute, after taking a one point lead, the Heat just kept forcing stops on the other end. 30 seconds left, Lowry-Bam PnR in space is the action. He feeds it to Bam rolling to the basket, who hits an insane left handed scoop. 38 points on the night. Ball-game.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Wizards

The Miami Heat faced the Washington Wizards again on Wednesday night, except they were slightly healthier.

Tyler Herro returned, Kyle Lowry shined, and we witnessed another blown lead.

Either way, Miami’s going to take a win in any form.

So, here are some takeaways…

#1: Kyle Lowry’s offensive resurgence continues.

Off a rough road trip for this Heat team where they went 0-4, I’m pretty comfortable saying there was only one single bright spot: Kyle Lowry. Pushing his limits to play close to 48 minutes is one thing, but actually being productive is another. Fast forward to tonight with Miami piecing some guys back together, he shined even more. He began the game with a very solid approach of generating constant paint touches to get this team decent looks without their two main shooters, but then his own three ball began to fall. He opened up the game going 5 for 5 from three, just simply taking the pull-up above the break threes when they were sitting there. For a team that hasn’t had their legs as of late with the extended minutes, Lowry isn’t a part of that grouping at the moment, which is a good sign. Summary: he’s been great.

#2: My take on the man/zone balance for this current Heat squad.

I spend a lot of time on these pieces talking about the 2-3 zone or Miami’s defensive structure in general, but the timing of utilizing each base is more intriguing. For example, Spoelstra doesn’t *want* to be playing this much zone defense all game, but he’s forced to with the current state of the roster. Yet tonight, it felt like there were times where it wasn’t the only choice. A lineup of Lowry-Martin-Highsmith-Cain-Bam was put out there for a long stretch in the second quarter, as Miami sat back in the 2-3 zone. For clarity, it did its job by forcing those push shots in the middle of the floor, but that’s a 5 man pairing that can guard straight up. They didn’t have many issues defending tonight, but it’s just something to monitor. Lineups with two below average defenders should call for immediate zone, but a solid defensive grouping shouldn’t settle there for too long.

#3: Caleb Martin playing well…as a 3? Who knew?

If you are scrolling down social media and click on the profile of Caleb Martin, you would see his bio states Miami Heat guard. Yet as we see often in Miami, guys eventually size up their position. In Martin’s case, it’s been an abrupt adjustment since it occurred in the starting lineup with certain shoes to fill. He’s been very good this season, but the opinion on him sway since it’s clear he’s just in the wrong position. With Jovic and Bam making up the front-court tonight, he was able to slide to the three. And well, he was able to slide into a familiar play-style. Less worries about screen, less hand-off feeding, more half-court flowing and moving with and without the ball. He was a big part of the early offense with his slashing, and that just projects forward to where he should be placed in the near future.

#4: The Heat’s trend of giving up leads is literally not a joke.

Whenever the Heat gather a lead close to 20 points, we often are inclined to make jokes this season like ‘well, this is going to be a tie game in a few right?’ But the thing about that is it’s not a joke, it continues to occur night in and night out. Once again in this one, the Wizards climb back in the third as the offense gets stale and the transition defense continues to leak. But it makes us question: logistically, why is it happening? That’s a film dive for another time to get the full scoop, but off the top of my head, a twenty point lead means weaker rotations. A twenty point lead means settling for looks in the half-court. But with this group, they just can’t settle at all. It’s a trend that’s extremely problematic healthy or not.

#5: Tyler Herro returns.

Tyler Herro finally came back after being out for close to three weeks, and well we almost saw another set back. He rose up on Porzigis at the rim, and hit the floor hard on his back. He laid there for a bit which seemed like a stinger, then foul trouble sat him out a good portion of that first half. Onto the second half, it was clear he was just searching for some sort of rhythm. A couple pull-up triples seemed to be the one sign of that, but he still wasn’t looking like himself all the way. His overall movement on the floor and overall disposition, which I wonder if it had anything to do with that earlier fall, since I doubt it was the ankle. Never should expect too much in a return game anyway, but he did have a big bucket late which got him into that flow he was looking for. Three point game, he hit a tough step back three on the left wing to give Miami an offensive jolt. Kuzma answered with an and-1 to cut it back to three, but Herro’s reverse hand-off action with Bam led to back to back triples. His fourth quarter performance *was* Tyler Herro, which this offense needs extremely.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Timberwolves

The Miami Heat played the Minnesota Timberwolves on the second night of a back to back, and well, they fell yet again.

They came out firing with high energy, but like most nights, it all faded.

Some takeaways:

#1: Heat first half takeaway- intention in two places: boxing out and a shift in the 2-3 zone.

The Heat were coming off a night in Cleveland where they essentially couldn’t defend the Cavs in the 2-3 zone, while also not gobbling up any boards. Yet tonight, it was clear from the jump that they shifted their attention. While the Timberwolves do have a lengthy front-court in Karl Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, they have not been a good rebounding team. The Heat, who were much smaller, sent 3 to 4 bodies at the rim for box-outs and crowded boards, sensing some intention. On the 2-3 zone side of things, they were continuing to force the shots in the middle of the floor that I harp on. Towns was getting it to go, but the portion of kick-outs Miami was forcing fell in their favor. Minnesota shot 3 of 25 (12%) in the first half from beyond the arc, which the Heat’s rotations deserve most of that credit. Then the third quarter happened, where all of those numbers were thrown out the window. The timberwolves put up 37 in the third, where Miami shifted to a lot of man, and hit the three at a high clip.

#2: A standout moment from Nikola Jovic.

Nikola Jovic started at the 4 next to Bam Adebayo yet again, but there was less intention to solely feed him early in this game. They wanted to find their base with the Lowry-Bam PnR, then work him in. Yet he wasn’t finding that same rhythm as the outside jumper wasn’t falling, which usually leads into a dark path for young players like himself. But we saw a different response. After some poor offensive possessions, he was crashing the boards and embracing the grab and go system completely. He ran into transition with intention, as Max Strus trotted on his left to the wing. On back to back plays, we saw the same exact formula: transition, Jovic assist, Strus three. For him to be confident enough to run the floor and make decisions after being blitzed early on, that could be one of the most promising signs I’ve seen to date.

#3: Miami’s updated usage of role players…

It’s hard to have offensive diversity when dealing with a short-handed roster with heavy minutes for guys like Haywood Highsmith and Jamal Cain, but Erik Spoelstra found a way to change some minor things up in the first half. With the same roster as last night, minus Duncan Robinson, they needed a positional shift in the half-court for the role players. Banking on threes from Orlando Robinson, Highsmith, and Cain types won’t work when the opposing team is intentionally helping off that corner “spacer.” But the key is they aren’t spacers, so don’t use them as if they are. That was the shift from Miami in this one, as they just constantly sent those two young wings streaking down open lanes and cutting to create some chaos. Highsmith and Cain went on a 9-0 run by themselves in that first half, hammering that alone. Then that led into Highsmith knocking down the outside jumper, which absolutely opens up their half-court offense when dealing with that weak-side helper.

#4: The ball-handling reps for Miami are eye opening with short-handed roster.

As I talked about after last night’s game, one of the main issues with the offense was the lack of shot creation from the guards. Every two-man action is run through two different guys: Kyle Lowry, who we know as the primary set-up man generally, and Max Strus. They were running high PnR after high PnR for Strus in this one, not because there was a match-up they liked, but due to the fact that was their only option. Yes they have Bam Adebayo and Nikola Jovic, but they aren’t guard creators that are necessary to run a consistent high powered offense. Many of the creators should be back after this one, but it’s pretty clear that there’s a lot on the plate of Lowry at the moment as the sole option in the ball-handling room.

#5: Late-game execution watch…

With 5 minutes left in this game, the Heat trailed by 3. The Lowry-Bam PnR spam continued, and the Heat couldn’t hit open threes. Not only could they not make those shots, but free throws were bouncing out. The offense for Minnesota was consistently on the shoulders of Anthony Edwards, who had a big night, yet he kept walking away with empty possessions. Bam Adebayo walked into a pull-up mid range jumper under four minutes to go, tying this one up at 99. Back on the other end, a foul was called on Kyle Lowry who felt he got all ball with a block on McDaniels, which Miami challenged and won. Big swing for the time being. After a miss for Miami, Russell hit a baseline jumper to take the lead by 2. Shortly after, Lowry took a charge on the driving Towns to foul him out of the game, showing some more hope. But well, that faded quickly. The Heat’s offense didn’t show up for most of this one, and a late step back three from Strus summed it all up. They don’t have options at the moment.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Cleveland

The Miami Heat had another short-handed night, adding Bam Adebayo to the fold, but it still wasn’t enough against a healthy Cavs starting group.

They were blitzed on both ends from start to finish, not even in competition to put up a fight.

So they fall to 7-10 with another game tomorrow night. Anyway, here are some takeaways…

#1: The Cavs taking advantage of Miami’s zone defense for a couple reasons…

With the roster Miami had available tonight in Cleveland, it was clear we had a night of 2-3 zone ahead of us. And well, the Cavs found their way against it early on, which should happen when a team stays with it as long as Miami. The Heat are looking to force a certain push shot in the middle of the floor, mostly known for being inefficient, but Evan Mobley was the consistent hub in the middle of the floor. He chopped Miami’s zone up a bit, which leads into the next element. Now that Miami has to clamp down middle, who should they help off? Well the easy answer is Isaac Okoro, right? Okoro ended up going 4 of 5 for 13 points in the first half. Combine those schematics with a ton of ball movement and a bunch of high low action from Mobley and Allen on Miami’s lack of size, and yeah, it’ll lead you to giving up a 59 point first half.

#2: The two sides of Miami’s offensive shot process in the first half.

The Heat came out clicking offensively to begin the game, with Bam Adebayo and Nikola Jovic running the show. The process was clear: Adebayo had the green light. Every set was being ran through him: isolations, post splits, face-ups, post-ups. The key on night’s like this is movement, movement, and more movement. Why do I say that? Well, a good portion of that first half would give you that answer. The Heat fell right back into the trap of having Miami’s guards and wings create, which is a tough ask without Herro or Butler. None of their guards could burst by Cleveland’s point of attack, leading to a pretty ugly shot profile. I’ve compared this to a first drive in football, where a team has that initial drive that is scripted. The Heat are great as a scripted offense beginning halves, but when they stray, they stray away far.

#3: The Nikola Jovic timeline tracker…

As I began to dip into a second ago, we got the Jovic debut next to Adebayo, but it was much briefer than we all expected. While it was executed perfectly in that opening stretch, Haywood Highsmith entered into the game and it felt like Miami completely went away from Jovic again. At the half, on a night where Miami was very short-handed, Jovic was tied for the 6th most minutes on the roster. Yeah, it’s interesting. It feels like there are more positives than negatives with Jovic on the floor in games like this one, yet there doesn’t seem to be the same level of trust that we’re accustomed to with other guys. Same thing in the last game against Washington where they had 7 total players. We will see if it changes, but the Jovic minutes just aren’t equating with the fan-base’s perception of effectiveness right now.

#4: Injured or not at the moment, here’s the team headliner:

No need to further explain. They need more…

#5: Onto…tomorrow night?

These games have felt like Miami’s trying to get to that final buzzer by any means, as Miami’s without many of their primary guys on the roster. As the Cavs ran out a major lead in this game, I said to myself ‘well, it’s time for them to get the main guys out for tomorrow night.’ But they essentially couldn’t since they only had like three guys to sub in for them. Now Miami is less than 24 hours away from another game against Minnesota, where they will be without the same guys on the roster. And even worse, it’s another lengthy front-court with Karl Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, meaning the rebounding numbers will be wild yet again. Miami could possibly find themselves at 7-11 after tomorrow night if they can’t generate some lightning in a bottle, which seems near impossible with what we saw in this one in Cleveland. But well, onto tomorrow night…

Top 5 Power Forwards The Miami Heat Can Realistically Acquire

With the first month of the NBA season on the cusp of the end, it lies pretty clear what one of the struggles of the Miami Heat is, and that’s the starting power forward position. 

Although Caleb Martin’s numbers have been solid overall, and he is a good asset for the Heat, there is one thing he lacks, which is height. 

At 6’5 Caleb Martin is one of the shorter Power Forwards in the league, the Heat are currently 16th in the league for rebounding.

The Miami Heat currently average 39.4 rebounds a game, which is less than last years 2021-22 season, where we averaged 43.7, so this list is going to show 5 Power Forwards the Miami Heat can realistically trade for.

 

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Jae Crowder

1 of 5

                

Miami Heat Receive: PF Jae Crowder, PF Dario Šarić

Phoenix Suns Receive: SG Duncan Robinson, 2023 first-round pick (unprotected)

 

How The Trade Benefits Miami

Even though it is hard to give away the 2023 unprotected first-round draft pick. 

The Heat trading for Jae Crowder and Dario Šarić benefits Miami in not only reuniting Jae Crowder, who was a good role-player and defender on the 2019-20 Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat, with the team. 

It also adds another PF in Dario Šarić who is a taller, three-point shooting big who just two to three years ago, in the 2019-2020 season was averaging 6.2 rebounds a game. 

The trade also frees up the contract situation with Duncan Robinson for Miami, as he still has three years left on his 5-year 90M deal, and both Crowder and Šarić are on the last year of their contracts.

 

How The Trade Benefits Phoenix

Phoenix not only will be getting the unprotected first-round draft pick that Miami has in 2023, but they will be receiving Duncan Robinson in the trade as well.

Duncan Robinson has a career average three-point percentage of 40.2%, as of right now the Suns have the 8th best three-point shooting percentage in the NBA, at 37.9%.

Even though trading for Robinson can be seen as a risky move, he potentially can add three-point shooting off the Suns bench, to help increase their already good three-point percentage.

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P.J. Washington

2 of 5

                       

Miami Heat Receive: PF P.J. Washington

Charlotte Hornets Receive: C Dewayne Dedmon, PF Nikola Jović

 

How The Trade Benefits Miami

Although losing the new-rookie in Nikola Jović maybe isn’t the ideal choice, this trade does bring in an athletic stretch-big in P.J. Washington, who is only 24, and is averaging 15.1 points per-game, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists with the Charlotte Hornets. 

With Dewayne Dedmon no longer on the team after this trade, it also allows Omer Yurtseven to get a chance to make an impact off the bench for the Heat.

This trade also wouldn’t be allowed to happen until January 15th, due to Dewayne Dedmon being on a recently-signed restriction, and because he re-signed using Bird rights with a 20% raise in salary and the Heat are over the cap.

 

How The Trade Benefits Charlotte

This trade allows the Hornets to get younger with adding Nikola Jović, who is only 19 years old, and also gives them the chance to help develop the rookie from Leicester, England as much as they can.

During the 2021-22 season with KK Mega Basket, a men’s professional basketball club based in Belgrade, Serbia, where Jović played before he got drafted. Jović averaged 11.7 points while shooting 42.8 percent from the field, 35.6 percent on threes, 75.4 percent from the free throw line, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists to 2.7 turnovers and 0.4 blocks per game in 25 appearances.

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Julius Randle

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Miami Heat Receive: PF Julius Randle

New York Knicks Receive: C Omer Yurtseven, SG Duncan Robinson, PF Nikola Jović

 

How The Trade Benefits Miami

The Miami Heat have always been known as a team who chooses not to tank, as well as also being known to be a win-now team, so although we would lose two young and promising players, in Omer Yurtseven and Nikola Jović, we would be receiving the Knicks current star-player in Julius Randle.

Randle as of right now, although having early season struggles, averages 21.3 points per-game, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists so far in this 2022-23 season.

Julius Randle also helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs in the 2020-21 season.

 

How The Trade Benefits New York

The Knicks in this trade, would receive 2 young players, in Omer Yurtseven and Nikola Jović, which they can help develop, as Yurtseven is currently 24 years old, and Jović is currently 19 years old.

Along with receiving the guard, Duncan Robinson who averages 40.2%, from the three-point line, for his career.

New York would be getting younger, and can use a bit of a restart by trading Randle, after failing to make the playoffs last year, having a record under .500,  with 37 wins and 45 losses.

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Lauri Markkanen

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Miami Heat Receive: PF Lauri Markkanen

Utah Jazz Receive: C Omer Yurtseven, SG Duncan Robinson, 2023 first-round pick (unprotected)

 

How The Trade Benefits Miami

Lauri Markkanen has found himself with the Jazz, as he is currently averaging 21.3 points per-game, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists so far in this 2022-23 season. 

Lauri Markkanen is averaging better numbers than he had in his one-year stunt with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. 

Markkanen could help space the floor with Bam Adebayo, as Markkanen would play his role as a three-point shooting stretch-big.

 

How The Trade Benefits Utah

The Jazz over the off-season traded the former three-time defensive player of the year, Rudy Gobert, this trade would allow Utah to help develop Omer Yurtseven into the next center for the Jazz’s future.

The Jazz will also be getting Duncan Robinson, who can bring in some firepower from deep off the bench for Utah.

All while giving Utah the unprotected first-round draft pick, that Miami has in 2023, which will add another to the Jazz’s huge pick stash.

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John Collins

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Miami Heat Receive: PF John Collins

Atlanta Hawks Receive: SF Max Strus, SG Duncan Robinson, PF Nikola Jović, 2023 first-round pick (unprotected), 2026 second-round pick via OKC, DAL or PHI

 

How The Trade Benefits Miami

This trade benefits the Heat by getting a 25 year-old star in John Collins, although the Heat might be giving up a lot especially like a core player in Max Strus, and the 2023 unprotected first-round draft pick, you gain an established, versatile scorer in Collins — who happens to be from South Florida and has always expressed an interest in returning.

Collins is also currently in a 5-year 125M deal, which in trading for him, the Heat have a guaranteed player for the next three years.

It has also been reported, by trusted reporter Shams Charania, that the Hawks have opened up preliminary trade discussions involving John Collins.

 

How The Trade Benefits Atlanta

The Hawks would not only be receiving a good role-player in Max Strus, who has come into his own the past year with Miami, elevated three-point shooting with Duncan Robinson, and a young player with potential in Nikola Jović.

Atlanta would also be receiving the 2023 unprotected first-round draft pick, that Miami currently has, along with the 2026 second-round pick via OKC, DAL or PHI.

Trading Collins to Miami would also free up some cap space for the Hawks, as Max Strus is on the last year of his deal.

 

 

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Shorthanded Night in Washington

Well this was a wild one.

The Heat having seven available players battled like no other in Washington, really showcasing themselves individually on all fronts.

Yet they came up just short in OT.

Here are some takeaways…

#1: Throwback Kyle Lowry appearance?

This wasn’t a normal night in the NBA. Kyle Lowry was the sole veteran on the floor for Miami who had 7 available players, and he turned back the clock. After the extensive talks about his physical conditioning this off-season, he went out in Washington and played every second of that first half, dropped 14 points with 9 assists and 7 rebounds. But beyond the stats, he was the engine to every action they ran. Off a miss, he was running with the young guys breaking free in transition. In the half-court, they did what they always do without their main guys: run post splits non-stop. They used Lowry as a hub in that high-post to hit cutters off stagger screens, which is where the lay-ups and trips to the foul line were coming from. Good stuff.

#2: The rookie Nikola Jovic is here, and he shouldn’t be going anywhere in terms of this rotation.

Nikola Jovic has been given opportunity in the midst of the loaded injury report, and it might have just cemented his spot in the rotation for good. All teams need sometimes is an extra eye of game-time from a young guy, and that seems like the case for Jovic. He’s played a role he’s uncomfortable with to say the least, and still played it at a high level with zero experience. That’s usually the tell. Offensively he’s just a supreme talent. A skilled passer on the move or stationary, moves off the ball at levels that even I didn’t expect, and can shoot/score when put in a position to do so. Let’s save the starting four conversation for another occasion with deeper dialogue, but the rotation stuff should be a no brainer on this roster. He’s a lock in the big man room. (With more to explore next to Bam…)

#3: Orlando Robinson showing some skill.

Tonight’s game was one for the kids (which feels wild to say with them being older than me), and we got a deeper look into specific skill-sets at the end of the roster. The one who debuted tonight was Orlando Robinson, who we saw for a bit in Heat Summer League next to Jovic. But I’d say he was pretty solid in this one to say the least. Good looking foot-work, great use of shot fakes in the interior, and an overall slow-paced flow to him once he gained possession of the ball. We’ve seen a lot of guys debut and not really know where to locate on the offensive end, but Robinson fit right in and attacked. We will need to see more, but a pretty intriguing starter kit when the Heat need an extra push on night’s like this one.

#4: Max Strus deserves another segment of shine, but for a different reason.

When looking at Max Strus in this one, I can have a similar conversation that I have as of late. The shooting will always be there, but the development off the attack continues to impress. He was blowing by the point of attack consistently and finding creases around the basket with scoops and runners from all spots on the floor. But aside from me going on that tangent again, he needs credit for another reason: cardio. Not just because this group was playing high minutes, but combining that with Strus’ role in this one. There’s already an element of this where Strus has to non-stop move in this offense to create shots for both himself and others, but that was taken to new heights in this one. That led into him struggling in the second half with every shot being short, but tonight was unique all in all.

#5: Fourth quarter/OT watch.

Now getting away from the player story-lines, let’s get back to the actual game. Lowry sat for the first time with 1 minute left in the third quarter, which was long overdue, but one thing was clear: the offense would fall off a cliff in the time he sat. He re-entered with 11 minutes to go in the fourth, meaning he sat for 2 minutes, and we saw that flip with an 8 point swing. There’s nobody to emulate what he was providing. But once he came back in, he picked up right where he left off. Big threes, more paint touches on drives, and finding the balance of a settled offense with a faster pace. Eventually, the Heat found themselves in a tie game with 3 and a half minutes left. Haywood Highsmith was putting together a rough offensive night, but his rebounding was one of the keys to the game. I noted it prior, but at that point in the game, he got 2 offensive boards with one being a tip-in to take the lead. After some other necessary plays, he hit an open three to take the lead late, giving Miami real hope. A possession after this, Kyle Lowry went deep in his bag for a fadeaway baseline jumper to extend the lead to 5. Washington bounced back with clutch buckets themselves though, sending the game to OT. Some back and forth continued, with some questionable calls late, and Miami found themselves in an awkward position. Down 1 for a  good portion of time, they couldn’t get over that hump offensively with all shots coming up short: for obvious reasons.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Raptors

The Miami Heat faced the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, and well it was your typical Heat-Raptors game.

If you looked at a stat sheet, you would say Miami had no business being in that spot. Turnovers. Bad. Rebounding. Worse.

They stayed around even through that, but those things were the overarching issues.

So, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Nikola Jovic getting his moment.

With Bam Adebayo being ruled out tonight in Toronto, it raised an eyebrow for their big man room. Dewayne Dedmon was the sole big ready to play it seemed, and he was questionable up until tip-off. Yet Spoelstra did what he does best, make the unexpected move: Nikola Jovic as the starting five. And well, he had about as great of a start as you could expect from him. They were purposeful in getting him involved in that first quarter: pick and pops, dunker spot re-positioning, quick dives to the rim. He had 11 points in that opening quarter, but the bigger point was that he fit in. They were able to successfully run a 5 out offense, while his drop on the other end was solid with straight up contests. This was his first true showing in the regular season for Miami, and it definitely won’t be the last. He’s impressive.

#2: Max Strus’ offensive diversity stands out as he catches fire.

Max Strus walked into the second quarter with 0 points, while Miami knew they needed something from a shooter to create positive half-court offense. And he ended up finishing that quarter with a total of 15 points, including 2 triples and 5 free throws. Not the usual Strus shot profile, but that’s what stood out here. There was diversity in the sets they were running for him as the Raptors overplay with a ton of length and solid defenders. Curls, hand-offs, pick and rolls, paint touches, catch and attacks. You just didn’t know what was coming from possession to possession, and that’s why I say he’s improved more than anybody on this team. The guy literally threw down a poster dunk in the second quarter as well. He’s elite as a simple shooter, but we just have to quit stopping there.

#3: The take-away mid-way through this game: the transition and pace game.

When entering this game, the biggest X’s and O’s story-line for me was the battle of pace. The Raptors are the best team in the league in that transition department, meaning you just have to turn down turnovers and you’ll be in a good spot. If you allow them to get out and run, it becomes problematic for a few reasons: 1) they generate both rhythm and points when entering this mode and 2) once they start getting out and running, it’s almost contagious. In the second quarter, we saw Miami pushing pace in unnecessary fashion at times, simply falling into their play-style a bit. Kyle Lowry deserves a ton of credit for settling Miami in this one, which partly has to do with his familiarity with the Raptors, but they needed him to calm down the kids who were playing freely. A lot of the turnovers were the league sending an apparent memo to referees about travels (lol), but Miami also can’t produce this many against teams like this. It’s the main reason they dropped this one.

#4: The Raptors game-plan was simple for their 21-0 run: picking on a Heat big.

The Raptors went on a 21-0 run in the third quarter. For more perspective, the Heat didn’t score for 7 minutes straight. But I’m not focusing on the offensive issues right, since they were just playing high to not allow Miami’s shooting to redeploy. As for that 21 point spree by the Raptors, they played bully ball. Not by being physical, but because they were just picking on the Heat’s Dewayne Dedmon. As he entered the game in the third quarter, Toronto got ready to inbound. VanVleet yelled at Anunoby walked down the court to call out a play, which was essentially a curl to operate 2-on-1 with Dedmon. An easy bucket. Shortly after they went to that well for a bit, VanVleet entered his favorite mode: pick and roll against drop. They found a match-up they liked and went to it. This isn’t to just pile on Dedmon, since he actually got some buckets in that second half that were needed, but that was just Toronto’s perspective on offensive game-plan.

#5: An interesting style on the surface for Jimmy Butler usage.

As I said earlier, the Heat were without Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro tonight, arguably the team’s second and third best players. But well, they still have their best player to generate a good amount of usage, right? Wrong. As I went through early in this piece, the Heat’s box score was pretty spread around. Good start for Jovic, good second quarter for Strus, Martin and Vincent played very well offensively. Yet Butler only had 4 shot attempts halfway through the fourth quarter. And once he’s out of the mix in the offensive rhythm, it feels hard to just merge him back into things on the fly. Let me also add something of significance: Toronto was basically sending 3 guys every time Jimmy touched the ball. Hard to look past that. As the Raptors pulled away, Lowry was the one to keep piecing things together by getting to his spots, but it’s just an intriguing base on a night without two primary guys.

Miami Heat X’s and O’s: The Defensive Shift

This hasn’t been the Miami Heat defense we’re accustomed to. Currently sitting 17th in defensive rating, they’re leaning heavily into the offensive side of things with this roster, which has essentially led them to a very strong 3 game win streak to get back to .500.

Yet while the box score would suggest it was all scoring, the film would tell you the opposite.

We often focus on the possessions where opposing teams draw a mismatch off a switch and get an easy bucket, making a total observation off a very small sample size. But in reality, they’re currently mixing up their scheme more than ever, and it’s giving me more hope that this team will be just fine for the time being.

We’ve seen them lean heavily into the 2-2-1 press and 2-3 zone, which off first glance makes you say: well they’re just doing that because they don’t have the personnel to guard straight up.

On some night’s that actually is the case, but the real reason for the heavy reliance is due to the Heat trying to find their defensive base in the meantime.

If you played basketball at any level from little league and up, there is always one primary principle taught when approaching a 2-3 zone: “flash middle.”

That essentially opens up and breaks the zone once the sides pinch in to the ball at the free throw line, leading to easy kick-outs for threes. But here’s the thing with the Heat defense: they don’t pinch in.

They stay home on shooters basically daring you to take that inefficient push shot in the middle of the floor time and time again. If you hit that enough to beat Miami, well then take the win.

I talked to Gabe Vincent for a bit after the Hornets game where we discussed the 2-3 zone, and I asked “is this your guys’ comfort zone now defensively?”

He responded, “Nah, everybody just struggles with it. I don’t think it’s our comfort zone, I think they just struggle with it.”

Bam Adebayo then joins in on my right: “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.”

So I dug in a bit deeper. I asked him about that exact push shot that Miami keeps forcing within the 2-3 zone, and he said “that’s the stat guys upstairs.”

“For every organization, nobody likes that shot I guess,” he continued. “Percentage wise it’s a great shot for the defense, but for the offense it’s not as great of a shot.”

But the key point here to make is that this isn’t just a “2-3 zone” thing anymore. It’s becoming a man to man thing as well, as Miami has altered back into some of their drop coverage with Bam Adebayo. (Something I’ve been calling for a while now.)

Just take a look what Miami did to Cameron Payne in their win against the Suns:

They aren’t going to obtain this same coverage when a guy like Devin Booker is coming off a ball screen, but they will when it’s an inefficient shooter like Payne or Terry Rozier from the night’s prior.

This is a coverage that the Milwaukee Bucks have fully mastered. Since they have an elite rim protector in Brook Lopez, the ideal weak-side roamer in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and one of the best screen navigators in Jrue Holiday, they basically force one single shot as much as possible.

They shut the water off on threes and shots around the rim, forcing mid-range pull-ups all night.

And well, this is a variation of that.

Whoever is guarding the “Payne-like” handler will fight over the screen to force him downhill. Adebayo’s job is now to contain with a back-pedal, where he’s playing back to cut-off the pass or the full-out drive.

And as you saw when viewing that plethora of clips from last night, they just kept baiting them into the same shot.

You may be wondering, well what if they just begin attacking the rim relentless anyway? Well here’s what happens:

Now let me just reassure you that this isn’t a one game sample size thing. They did it in their two-game set against Charlotte as well, but we were just so focused on the fact that they almost blew the game on a night that flowed into OT.

That extra stuff disguised a major shift that we’re seeing at this moment in time. Just take a look at the shot profile in this two-game set as well:

Guys like Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier were being forced to take shots they didn’t want to. But the bigger point here, Bam Adebayo in drop is just as elite as Bam Adebayo on switches.

Actually he may be more elite.

Yes it’s fun to watch clips of Adebayo clamping up your favorite guard or wing in isolation, but that’s not what makes him arguably the league’s best, and most versatile, defender.

The reason is because he can switch 1 through 5, back-pedal in drop, sit on the bottom box in a 2-3 zone, blitz and recover, or simply rotate at a very high level. Putting all of that stuff together is actually what gives him that label.

When I talked to Jimmy Butler post-game, he gave all of the credit to Bam “back there being an anchor on defense.” He’s the guy that they’re forming this all around, and as seen over the last three games, this shift could really be something that sticks long-term.

 

Video Version Here: