Tag Archive for: Miami Heat

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Suns

The Miami Heat wrapped up the 5 game road trip in Phoenix on Friday night, improving to 3-2 on the trip.

When looking at it from that perspective, that’s a good trip.

Victor Oladipo and Bam Adebayo lead the way tonight, so here are some takeaways….

#1: No Tyler Herro means an altered offensive focus for Heat.

As Tyler Herro was an active scratch with back spasms, it means you have to make a pretty decent sized adjustment to your offensive gameplan. Not only is he high usage, but he’s a primary offensive trigger. With his absence, it basically meant Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would be the only two half-court hubs for the offense. We saw them get it to Bam in those spots early, which I will discuss next, but Butler was doing the same off low post cross screens into mismatch hunting on any of the Suns smaller guards. That game-plan seems rather simple, but the bigger point that I mentioned to begin this game: this team couldn’t afford to play a second without at least one of them on the floor. Not only are they primary hubs, they’re the only hubs.

#2: Bam Adebayo making it look easy, because it’s gotten so simple.

As much as I discuss the Heat’s gameplan in the half-court to begin this game, it really wasn’t complex when it came to Bam Adebayo. He was being fed early in this game, going 6 of 9 from the field in the first half. It began at the elbow, as a set like Horns would be run, which ultimately flowed into Bam turning into face-up position before going to work. That free throw/dotted line jumper just continues to feel like money every time it leaves his hand with some rhythm. Seeing the Heat run isos for Bam consistently says a lot about where he is as a scorer. The other point to make about his early disposition aside from face-ups, included a heavy dosage of short roll stuff. It’s honestly tougher without Herro since he feeds him so often in that pocket, but he was still able to do some damage there too. It looks easy for him, but that’s because his options have been simplified.

#3: Dewayne Dedmon minutes again.

Before this game, Erik Spoelstra made some comments that seemed to hint at the team going in the Orlando Robinson direction for a stretch with Dewayne Dedmon continuing to recover, and that theory lasted a total of 42 seconds. Dedmon got the backup big spot yet again tonight, but it should also be noted that this role is as limited at it possibly can be. The Heat went to an 8 man rotation in this one, as Dedmon only played 6 minutes in the first half. Now I won’t act like those aren’t a *long* six minutes to monitor, but it just shows the heavy reliance on Bam at this stage and non-trust in those minutes. I’m still of the belief that Robinson should 100% be in that role at the moment, especially in a matchup like tonight. Not that Robinson is a reliable big man defender, but Chris Paul vs Dedmon in drop coverage can make 6 minutes feel like a basketball eternity.

#4: Hmmm, Torrey Craig is interesting…

When we often look around the league at possible 4’s to keep on the Heat’s radar, Torrey Craig is an interesting one. He played a very good game against Miami tonight, pretty much showing one of the pieces the Heat could very much utilize. To put it into even more context, we watched Haywood Highsmith tonight get the start next to Bam, and he had a bit of a rough one. Craig was extremely efficiency, hits spot-up triples, can play off the dribble at times in that in-between game, can rebound well for his size, and defends multiple positions. With the Suns already down one power forward, why would they trade another? But in terms of those packages with multiple players, Craig would be a fantastic add if they had the chance.

#5: Victor Oladipo has found his burst as of late, but is he adding in the perfect combo?

Victor Oladipo has been high usage over this road trip, but more specifically tonight due to Herro being out. His burst has been the highlight of his game over the last few weeks, since we haven’t seen this since his Indiana days. But that burst doesn’t mean much if the result isn’t equating to the moves. Yet that hasn’t been the case. His finishing has been solid, since he just loves that right slot when he gets the correct angle when that strong side help doesn’t slide down. Aside from that finishing, he got to the line a ton tonight. What’s the perfect sidekick to that revived burst? Free throw line antics. If he can find that balance of rim pressure and trips to the line, that’s all this Heat team needs if their offensive style ever gets back to that ideal state. Balancing that with some form of shooting is the goal, which they will try and fix at the deadline, I’m assuming.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Lakers

The Miami Heat played the LeBron and AD-less Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, and the Heat played like they were facing a weaker roster.

Issues can be discussed from different angles, but this game was lost at the point of attack defense plain and simple.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: The Heat’s early lack of intention on both ends.

When the Lakers injury report was submitted late Wednesday afternoon, that was probably the moment when the Heat put their guard down. As LeBron James was ruled out, that’s usually the moment when teams play down to competition, especially when looking at this Lakers roster tonight. Yet Russel Westbrook and company came out firing, as the Heat were sleep walking on both ends. No intention on the offensive end in terms of getting into actions, as well as the shooting just not clicking for Miami yet again. The Lakers flurry of role players were also bursting past the Heat’s point of attack defense consistently, and rotations just seemed to be off. Just a very underwhelming first half to this game for the Heat, on a night where they needed to just take care of business from the jump.

#2: Tyler Herro seeing a similar coverage to the Hawks series.

We often look back to the playoffs last year when discussing coverages that Tyler Herro has seen at the highest level. We usually go to that Philly series, since that’s when he saw consistent doubles and blitzes off every pick and roll, placing him out of his rhythm. But the Hawks series was a different scenario. The Hawks plan was to place Delon Wright on Herro for every second of every game, and his one job was to not leave his side. That’s what the Lakers were doing from baseline to baseline tonight, mostly with Dennis Schroder actually. I honestly believe the blitzes will be an easier coverage for him to beat at this stage. This one-on-one, annoying box and one type of vibe seems to take him out of his usual comfort spots. It’ll be interesting to monitor the counters to this matchup type.

#3: Reacting over predetermining: a Heat offensive need.

As much as I talked about the Heat’s struggles, they were only down four at halftime. Once again, that’s not something to be proud of against this roster, but it showed they had to be doing at least “one” thing right. That was specifically reacting to the Lakers defense instead of predetermining their shot profile. The example of that was a certain Heat run in the second quarter, where it started with a switch and Bam seal, leading into an entry pass and post hook. The next play, they got a switch again, this time with Thomas Bryant onto Victor Oladipo. He slowly waited, then flowed into his pull-up from that left wing over the big man. That is reacting to what a not-so-good defense is giving you, instead of pressing too much. At times the Heat seem to make things too difficult on themselves, when the easier approach is sitting right there. But either way, this takes up back to the word of the season for Miami: consistency, or lack-of for better context.

#4: Jimmy Butler finding a third quarter advantage.

To start the second half, the Heat came out with a gameplan surrounded around Jimmy Butler in the half-court. Butler was being guarded by Pat Bev, meaning he just kept getting down to that bottom box and going to work. Post spin, over the top lob, jumper over the top. If you know Butler, you know he loves nothing more than going one-on-one with a smaller defender. He started the third with 4 straight field goals. After a timeout, the Lakers threw their counter punch. They were just going to begin peeling over that second defender early. Now Butler got into his dump off bag with Bam Adebayo settling around the basket for easy push shots and dunks. The Heat finally found a base. Shortly after, the Lakers made another adjustment to stop giving Butler guard looks, throwing guys like Tuscano-Anderson at him instead. Either way, it’s clear Butler has an on/off switch he can flip whenever he chooses offensively.

#5: Breaking down Heat-Lakers clutch time…

Under five minutes to go, the Lakers were up by 2 on the Heat. The Lakers continued to put Herro in the action possession after possession, leading to more Bam attention and a bucket inside for Thomas Bryant. Bam answers on the other end with a short clock with that face up jumper, but a response kept occurring on the other end in similar fashion, as the Heat’s first line defense couldn’t contain to any degree. After the Heat fouled Schroder on a three with over two minutes to go, that felt like the final straw, but Butler answered with a right wing three to put it back at a three point game. Fast forward to a minute left, Bam got a put-back to fall putting it back at a 1 point game, but like I said, we kept seeing them answer. Schroder got an immediate paint touch and got to the line. 3 point game again. A reviewed foul call eventually put Oladipo at the line, which he went 1 for 2. The Lakers response included another Schroder burst past Caleb Martin for the lay-in. Sensing a theme? The Heat lost this game simply off point of attack defense. The Lakers offense was surging, and three point shooting wasn’t even a part of their success. They were just walking into the paint with ease all night. Down to 15 seconds left, the Heat fouled Westbrook who converted an and-1 on the inbound. Ball game? Well Strus ended up hitting a triple on the other end with four seconds left to give some form of hope. 3 seconds left, Heat inbound full court, Butler got a pretty good look that came up short. Arguably the worst loss of the season for Miami…

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Clippers

The Miami Heat had their ups and downs in LA against the Clippers, but they were able to pull it out in the end.

Another massive night for Bam Adebayo, plus major contributions from Victor Oladipo on both ends.

Here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: The Miami Heat’s first half: a preview of what could be.

Before getting into the individual performances in this game, including Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each adding 16 first half points, the Heat’s general flow looked to be at a season high. It was far from one-sided basketball. They were forcing turnovers at a high level on the defensive end, which landed at 8 in the first half, but it was clear they were just feeding off their offensive rhythm. They found a base that they stuck with, but the unselfishness and impact of role players led into a ball movement flurry. Rim pressure from Victor Oladipo, mid-range excellence from Bam Adebayo, and three point land pull-ups from Tyler Herro. That’s a hard formula to guard when they’re all clicking.

#2: Bam Adebayo: the tone setter, the rhythm finder.

Although I touched on the Heat’s early offensive success in a general sense, Bam Adebayo was the main reason for them finding that scoring success. The last time he faced the Clippers back in Miami, they just kept sending doubles at him in that mid-post, as he still glided to 31 points. The adjustment on the Clippers side was to send that double at Jimmy Butler instead. That allowed Bam to have a one-on-one matchup at the elbow every possession, just working his face-up game against Zubac. The jumper was falling, his touch around the rim was there, and well, the aggression was surging. He’s simply a hard player to stop when he enters this mode, and it just opens up the offense to new levels.

#3: Orlando Robinson finding his place.

After talking about Bam’s play, that usually is followed by a complete falloff when he heads to the bench and Dewayne Dedmon enters. The offensive flow stalls out, and the backup big man gets picked on in drop time and time again. Not tonight. One of the main keys to that strong first half was the big time Bam stretch was followed by the team winning the Orlando Robinson minutes. He was an offensive rebounding magnet, and is never afraid to rise backup for quick and easy put-backs. He’s also extremely active in the handoff and screening region, which is constant in a Heat half-court offense. When looking for true promising signs, the recent play of Robinson provides real hope that they indeed do have an option in the front-court to be an innings eater. A good one at that.

#4: Oh yeah, the third quarter trend returns in 2023.

After all I discussed about Miami finding themselves on both ends in that first half, the opposite was showcased to open up the third quarter. They all of a sudden couldn’t generate a string of stops as Paul George found his rhythm in isolation, but the offensive stuff is still the question mark. All the ball movement, creative actions, and extra flow into not being able to buy a bucket. To be honest, I’d have to rewatch many of these possessions to give my full outlook, but on first hand this season, “settling” always seems to be my first description in these instances. Once the Heat see a bunch of shots fall, it always feels like they don’t work as hard to get easier looks. There’s just a level of belief that the same tough shots will continue to fall. Consistency is the primary theme in terms of issues, but the settling on the offensive end is a close second.

#5: Another late-game walkthrough…

After the Heat led by 20 early in this game, they only led 96-95 halfway through the fourth quarter. As the Heat called timeout, I immediately said on Twitter the only way to pull away would be to get Jimmy Butler to create for himself consistently down the stretch, after he had a quiet game. Right out of that timeout, they ran an action for him to catch and attack, getting him to the free throw line. After a few defensive possessions of forcing some turnovers, Herro came to the rescue with a leaning right wing triple late in the shot clock to put them up 6. Then the next possession, a Butler miss led to a big time put-back slam from Adebayo to really give Miami some late energy. After some more back and forth, Oladipo misses a three, the Clippers push, and he finds a way to get in position to draw the charge. Herro feeds off that with a mid-range pull-up out of the high PnR. To really capitalize on the next offensive possession, Herro draws two at the top of the play, zips it to Bam in the middle of the floor, who rises up for the easy dunk. Adebayo just kept coming up big, no matter the circumstance or action ran.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Jazz

The Miami Heat played on the second night of a back to back in Utah on New Years Eve, and pulled away with a win.

Victor Oladipo showcased elite two-way skills, Bam Adebayo scores 32 points, oh and Tyler Herro’s game winner.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: Victor Oladipo’s early punch on both ends.

As the first quarter comes to a close, the Heat lacked energy. Lacked an identity. Victor Oladipo entered the game, and he provided just that. Heat ran an action that many fans are familiar with, Duncan Robinson slipping a screen initially to create space for the PnR between the ball handler and the big man. That ball-handler happened to be Oladipo. He bursted down the right slot for the tough lay-in. Off the make, he pressured full court, deflecting and stealing the ball leading to the eventual Max Strus lay-in. He followed all that up with a three-point flurry in the second quarter. Catch and shoot looks as the Herro-Oladipo combo just continues to impress.

#2: We know Tyler Herro the scorer. We know Tyler Herro the passer. But how about Tyler Herro out of set actions?

Final possession of the second quarter, as the ball is placed in the hands of Tyler Herro. The entire goal is to get a shot with ideally 0 seconds on the clock, as he tries to time it. They run a variation of Spain PnR, as it’s a Herro-Orlando pick and roll, with Strus rising to the left wing off a ghost screen. Herro takes that extra dribble and step to pressure the defense, then zips it to Strus for the buzzer beater three. I may have just described one single play, but we’ve seen it much more frequently than that. I often harp on the Herro-Bam PnR, which we saw a good amount of tonight, but the more complex actions with multiple things going on fits his style. Moving parts is key for him, since one of his biggest strengths is manipulating off-ball defenders. He knows now that he gets a ton of extra attention at this stage, but now he’s realizing how to truly use it to his advantage.

#3: It’s time to flush three-point reliance…Well, to an extent.

We often hear in post game conversations that the goal for this Heat team is to hit that 40 three bench mark. In a very new age of basketball, it’s almost necessary to keep up with many of these high powered offenses. But the way to get to that baseline needs to be the result of another priority. When I look at guys like Jimmy Butler, Adebayo, Oladipo, and even Herro, they are their best versions following a heavy rim attack diet. Not only does it get them into an individual rhythm, but it shrinks the floor just enough for shooters to follow. Watching Adebayo’s attack, Oladipo’s rim pressure, and Herro’s in-between floater and passing game tonight, it only furthers that point. This team has totally fallen off the map in the three-point region, while also recognizing it can return at any point. But relying on that resurgence will never be the answer. Strong drives, free throw attempts, and rim pressure is the true Miami Heat MVP.

#4: The Heat’s inconsistencies appearing in the third quarter yet again.

When talking about inconsistencies in that third quarter, I could sit here and talk about specific possessions like when Bam had Mike Conley on his back under the basket, and that play resulted in two contested three pointers from Kyle Lowry and Haywood Highsmith. Process is important, but the offense wasn’t the issue again tonight. Back to back nights, this team just couldn’t generate stops on the defensive end for large pockets of time. When looking at specifics, it really comes down to something Erik Spoelstra harped on a few weeks ago: containing the ball. That’s where it all begins. If this team doesn’t pressure that initial creator, you’re betting on weaker defenders in tougher rotations once that initial paint touch is made. It’s something that needs

#4: Late-game discussion: Adebayo, Oladipo, Herro lead way.

Victor Oladipo sits at the top of the key with Kelly Olynyk guarding him 1-on-1. A screen comes and a miscommunication follows, as Oladipo drifts down the lane into a massive and-1 dunk right at the rim over Walker Kessler. That was pretty much a needed spark. The Heat picked up on the defensive end, which began with Oladipo up at the top, as turnovers flowed in. A Herro fast-break 2 into an eventual Oladipo rip and Adebayo and-1 shot in his in-between range looked like Miami found themselves for a large stretch. Fast forward to a bit later with 3 minutes left in the game, the Heat are up by 5. Herro snakes inside after drawing 2, feeds it to Bam in that mid-post, who fires a face-up jumper over his defender to give Miami a 7 point lead. As you would expect, the Jazz cut into that lead a bit, forcing Miami to execute to perfection late. With a 4 point lead with 30 seconds left, it looked like the Heat would dribble it out as long as possible. Herro ended up taking a deep three with 9 seconds left on the shot clock, giving the Jazz a chance on the break. Fast forwarding to late-game, a terrible foul call gives Markannan three free throws to tie. As Herro answers with the game winning three point floater. Happy New Year.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Nuggets

The Heat lose in a back and forth in Denver. Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro both played very well, but ultimately couldn’t generate enough stops to walk out of that building with a win.

But here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: The Heat’s first half offense: short jumpers and rough offense.

The Heat struggled to begin this game in the half-court, as the high altitude was clearly a bother. A little past the midway mark of the second quarter, the Heat were shooting 33% from the field, as Jimmy Butler was 1 for 5, Bam Adebayo was 2 for 8, and Tyler Herro was 1 for 6. Miami ended up running off 12 points in the final two minutes of the second quarter to juice up their numbers a bit and give them momentum. At the same time as those Heat stats, the Nuggets were shooting 61% from the field and 53% from three. How was this a game? Well, the Heat had 9 offensive boards to begin the game to the Nuggets 0. They also forced double the amount of turnovers in that first half. So, that was basically the blueprint.

#2: Max Strus providing the necessary spark.

As I just addressed that 12 point run by Miami in the final two minutes stretch before the half, Max Strus had 8 of those points. He got in the lane for a left-handed scoop to get Miami on the board out of the timeout, but the threes flowed in shortly after. A Kyle Lowry pick and roll on the right wing masked a weak-side hammer screen from Adebayo to give Strus a wide open three in the left corner. But the key wasn’t the process, it’s Strus actually finding his way as an efficient shooter again. With the recent rough patch, he has needed moments like this to get him back in a rhythm. And well, he’s still never seen a shot contest in his life, as he will fire over just about any close-out.

#3: Bam Adebayo adjusted back into drop coverage against Nikola Jokic.

If I can present that same question I threw out there earlier, how was Miami in the game early even with all of those one-sided stats? Well, minor adjustments like this one changed the pace. The Heat’s defensive activity really picked up on that second quarter specifically, but that was due to the fact they could double and recover much more freely with Adebayo glued to Nikola Jokic in drop. We saw some switches early, but they settled back in that drop after realizing they needed to mirror the minutes of Jokic with Bam. Now, Jokic did have 7 assists at the half, but that was mostly due to the fact Bam was forcing him into that role. More hand-offs and PnR’s means the Heat’s point of attack defense has to screen navigate. We saw some counter matches in this one, but Bam in drop against elite centers is always the answer. Just go back to the second round series against Joel Embiid and Philly.

#4: The third quarter: the Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro show

Through the first 8 minutes of play in the third quarter, the Heat scored 23 points. All 23 of those points were from Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. The Heat changed up the substitution pattern a bit with Jimmy Butler exiting early, meaning a heavy dosage of Herro-Bam PnR. Herro found both his pull-up three and the floater in the in-between game after a tough start to the game. Bam was playing with some real energy as a roller and out of his face-up, as many of his points simply came from getting to the line consistently in Butler fashion. That’s one of the most important elements when watching Bam offensively: just getting a friendly whistle. Anyway, having these two lead the way for a giant chunk of time in this environment is promising.

#5: Fourth quarter summary: Butler’s adjustment to Nuggets forcing a certain switch to Herro ball late to stalling out.

Jimmy Butler was being a menace on the defensive end all night. Getting into his usual free safety antics by hitting passing pockets, but his eventual offensive recognition in this game is what truly stood out. Early in the fourth quarter, Adebayo and Herro went to the bench, so Butler could run with the second unit. In that same sense, DeAndre Jordan was the opposing big in this stretch. Butler recognizing, just kept attacking Jordan in drop coverage as he should. But the reason it stood out was because he played it perfectly. We don’t see Butler floaters too often, but he was spamming it in this period. Jordan exited, Jokic entered. Yet Bam was still on the bench. Shortly after he walked to the scorers table, but that short stint can flip a game, which it did in a sense. Into late-game stuff, the Nuggets were forcing a Kyle Lowry switch onto Aaron Gordon possession after possession, giving them a real offensive base. Now down to the three minute mark, Herro began getting into his bag. Isolation into pull-up. Catch and shoot three. Drawing fouls. He was great, but everything else began falling apart. The offense somewhat stalled, but they just couldn’t generate a stop lat with Jamal Murray surging. Nuggets shooting 59% from both the field and from three just won’t cut it.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Lakers

A rather healthy Heat team, minus Kyle Lowry, faced off at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

A strong night by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo offensively gave the Heat the offensive blueprint on the way to the win.

Some takeaways from this game…

#1: Jimmy Butler carrying the first half offensive shot distribution.

Isolation. An inside the arc burst to either side of the floor. A slow, methodical spin move back to the inside. Bucket. That was a simple way of describing how Jimmy Butler got to 19 first half points. Even after missing time by any means, he usually comes back in similar fashion. But instead of diving in that direction, there is definitely something to be said about the pure 1-on-1 ability of Butler. Simply, teams have shown they don’t really have an answer for that element of his game, nor do they want to display it. Opposing teams won’t send that double too often since they know what will happen next when combining Butler’s passing and Miami’s movement. Anyways, it’s always good to watch this version of Butler on the offensive end.

#2: The continued finger-prints of Victor Oladipo on the defensive end.

When talking about the Heat’s defense, we usually start in two completely different places. Either the point of attack issues, or to praise the defensive excellence of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Well, Victor Oladipo would like a word in both areas. In terms of one-on-one ability, there aren’t many guards in this league with the natural ability that he possesses. His lateral quickness, even after multiple injuries, is something wild to see. He can cut off any ball-handler just by beating you to the spot. His instincts are also a major part of this, since he makes timely swipes to accumulate steals, as seen in the Eastern Conference Finals against Jaylen Brown. Those instincts blend into off-ball positioning leading into the charge surge. He has been great in that field, and feels necessary to note.

#3: Some X’s and O’s talk: the Heat’s recent spam of a certain action.

In the previous game against the Timberwolves, the Heat spammed one specific action for the final two minutes of the third quarter, which pretty much put them in a position to eventually win the game. Double drag: the Heat’s ball handler will come off a pair of screens, with the first one popping and the second one diving. It’s a simple action to basically spread the floor a bit and possibly force a switch. But we saw it a ton again tonight. It’s really heavy in the Duncan Robinson lineups since he’s always that initial screen to immediately slip, but this set is what got Tyler Herro going finally in that second quarter. That flowed him to the rim a bit more with added paint touches, basically turning into a Herro-Bam PnR, creating a very good shot diet. Like I said, it’s simple, but it’s also crucial.

#4: A change-up in game-plan for the Heat again? Yes.

Speaking of that last game vs Minnesota, I asked Kyle Lowry after the game about the uptick in pace, which he basically said you are forced into game-plan changes without Butler and Adebayo. That would be correct. But what about a game-plan shift when both of them are playing? We saw that tonight. Although Spo always preaches getting to 40 three-point attempts, while the Heat still did get up a bunch tonight, the goal was to have more going at the rim. That ties back to both the Butler and Herro points in this piece. They wanted to attack the Lakers lack of rim protection at the moment, and well, that’s not a hard thing to adjust to when that description fits your two best players exactly. This team simply cannot rely on three-point shooting, even if it gets hot for a month or two. Having this base will always be key.

#5: Wait, is Caleb Martin the three-point specialist now?

It’s been a running joke for a while that Caleb Martin essentially can’t miss when his foot is on the three-point line, and that held up in this game. To finish the third quarter, he had 13 points with three triples, but the only two 2 point field goals were with his foot on that line. So in theory, that should’ve been 5 triples. Jokes aside, this emergence has really been something to document. He’s super confident in that jumper following a size-up jab step, while also providing stuff off the catch a good bit. If the Heat were in a better spot this season in terms of winning, we would be discussing this jump much more. With all of the talk about a “four,” he has been outstanding this season in whatever role they’ve placed him in.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Wolves

The Miami Heat faced the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Monday night, and it wasn’t pretty.

A late fading corner shot by Tyler Herro put them up 6 on the way to the win.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: The Heat’s early paint touches…needed.

No Jimmy Butler. No Bam Adebayo. No paint touches? That’s usually the case on nights like this, since threes begin to fire across the board within this roster. But Kyle Lowry was a large portion of the paint attacks early in this one. Not only the usual pick and roll to draw help before kicking, but he was self creating at the rim. I will say, mostly in the non-Gobert minutes since that’s the ideal spot. After subbing out, the back-court of Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo took the floor, which was the debut of that duo this season. And well, Oladipo was clear his rim attacks would be pure. Even if it doesn’t equate to constant points in the scoring column, that pressure is crucial. Not only in development throughout the year, but setting up the defense for future possessions.

#2: Let me say it again: are we watching the Heat’s new back-up center?

Orlando Robinson was the only true center on the roster in this one without Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, and Omer Yurtseven, yet Nikola Jovic was given the start for spacing purposes. Yet he came in soon after, and well, he was producing. He was cleaning up around the rim for easy second chance points, but mainly his feel for the offense has never felt clunky. Things aren’t forced, his screens are solid, and he’s always available on those dives to the basket, which young players tend to struggle with. There’s still some work to be done beyond the surface, but that comes with any young undrafted player. Right now, there’s not a better option on the roster for that spot. So let’s keep the Orlando Robinson thing rolling.

#3: The Heat’s game-plan tonight: Pushin P(ace).

The Heat are generally known for their half-court heavy offense, since the transition thing has never been in their wheelhouse. But tonight it wasn’t just Lowry and crew deciding to get past the half-court line quicker on the fly, this was a game-plan set thing. After makes, the Heat were flushing their way down the floor, taking me to an early Caleb Martin possession. Off a make, they inbounded to Martin. He got down the floor, and to the rim, for an and-1 with 19 seconds left on the shot clock. Yeah, that’s new. It created an interesting dynamic to their offense for a better flow, mainly due to the Gobert led Timberwolves half-court defense not being able to set up properly.

#4: The opposing run and Heat leakage: part 142 (or something like that).

As the Heat possessed a 10 point lead halfway through the third quarter, I put it on twitter that it was the make or break portion of the game. The blueprint was simple: if they continued to push pace and get into the paint, they would be fine. If they settled for shots, it would soon be a tie game. Well, four minutes later, it was a tie game. The entire Heat offensive structure throughout this game was actions for shooters. Pindowns for Robinson, slip screens for Strus. Those were the things creating the shot profile for Miami throughout. Following that run by Minnesota, credit to Kyle Lowry for really getting things back out the mud. A floater out of the pick and roll, a hand-off to Robinson for three, a pull-up triple out of high PnR, and a feed out of a double were the final possessions of the quarter. They needed that counter punch in this one, and Lowry gave it to them.

#5: The Heat got the night from their two sharp-shooters.

After three quarters, the Heat shot 12 of 41 from beyond the arc. Max Strus and Duncan Robinson were 8 of 14, while the rest of the Heat were 4 of 27. The three-point shooting struggles continue, but the two primary actual sharp-shooters carrying the load in that department is a decent start for the direction they are trying to go. When the Heat are without Butler and Bam, it always comes down to three-point shooting. But more importantly, we see an action revamp since there’s more focus on running consistent creative actions for Robinson and Strus. Robinson gets many of the hand-offs and elbow actions to fly into his rhythm on the move. Strus is mainly off the catch or following a slip screen with the ball-handler drawing two. But getting this type of performance was necessary to stay above water.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Pacers

The Heat fall to the Pacers…

Some takeaways…

#1: Tyrese Haliburton’s adjustment from last Heat game to now.

The last time the Heat faced the Pacers in Indiana, Tyrese Haliburton had a rough night. 0 for 9 shooting due to the Heat’s game-plan to switch Bam Adebayo out and fully eliminate him in the half-court. So, what was his adjustment? He had 5 threes at the half, and it was basically responding to the similar PnR coverage. His adjustment was to just immediately pull without waiting for the switch. When a player has the ability to shoot from farther out, it’s really the one and only thing that can stump that pure switch. A lot of the Pacers early shooting was just hitting most shots from their diet, but the Haliburton part of it was schemed.

#2: Jimmy Butler back, the Heat still reliant on him.

Jimmy Butler had 14 points at the half, as most of that contribution was made in that opening quarter. The first action following the tip-off was a Kyle Lowry cross screen for Butler, who caught the entry pass on the opposite side in the low post for the bucket. The Pacers are one of the only teams to place a smaller defender on Butler and live with it, as Andrew Nembhard has seen him primarily in both match-ups. We saw the pick-up in attempts going toward the rim, which all starts with Butler setting the tone in that way, as well as the trips to the line. This team needs Butler to be that type of force for the offense to function correctly, and I don’t know if that’s extremely a good thing.

#3: Bam Adebayo’s elbow spam into attack.

Aside from the early offensive plan to get Butler going toward the rim, the bigger point was to get Bam Adebayo some post splits and elbow touches. Not really to force him to operate as a play-maker continually, but to work that face-up in space. We saw things we are used to such as the pull-up fade and pure rim attacks following a few jab steps, but he worked in some foul drawing techniques. He was really initiating the contact off those drives to get Myles Turner in foul trouble, forcing him to the bench. Following him going to the bench, Jalen Smith enters. Adebayo throws three straight pump-fakes his way before he bit and Bam jumped into him. We often talk aggression, but these type of counters is something to keep an eye on.

#4: Orlando Robinson minutes with no Dewayne Dedmon.

The Heat’s rotation was pretty much back together in this one, except Dewayne Dedmon was out. That gave an even larger look into the potential of a full rotation, with another big man filling in for the non-Bam minutes. That guy was Orlando Robinson. He’s still very early on in his development, but I definitely didn’t mind those minutes at all. They utilized him defensively just like you would expect, if you watched what they did for developing bigs such as Omer Yurtseven last season. If you put him in an action, they’re just going to continually blitz you. He did a decent job at recovering at respectable speeds back into the lane, which is all you can really ask for in his minutes. He has limitations in certain aspects as expected, but it’s still worth a deeper look.

#5: The run happened again. Then a counter by Miami. Then the final punch by Haliburton.

Heading into the fourth quarter down two, we’ve seen this play-out too many times to know what was coming next. The offense begins to slip even further than we’ve recently seen throughout the season, as the opposing team breaks down the point of attack for easy opportunities. That came in the form of constant three-point shooting dominance from the Pacers guard room. Even though I touched on it early, it really begun and ended with Haliburton tonight who just couldn’t be slowed down. But ultimately this isn’t a Haliburton thing. It isn’t a Pacers thing. It’s a Heat thing at this point. The Heat found a counter punch late, though, led by…Haywood Highsmith? From short roll passes to dunker spot spacing to catch and drives, he gave them some very good minutes as Butler went out. Pacers cooled off for a bit as the Heat gained some energy, but still they had a large hole to dig themselves out of. Down 3 with 16 seconds left, they had to draw up a play, and they designed the perfect one. Strus off a pindown into a down-screen for Herro to receive with some momentum to the right wing. Tie game. But well, Haliburton happened again. A deep 3 wins them the game to finish it.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Bulls

The Heat drop the opening game of this home stand to the Chicago Bulls, and it wasn’t a surprise.

When you struggle to shoot and defend, you don’t win basketball games.

The Heat got a good night from Bam, but the drop-off from there was steep. Not a huge margin for error with this roster.

Five takeaways tonight…

#1: No Butler. No Lowry. Yes Bam.

It was a rough start for the Heat in the first quarter, since if you exclude Bam Adebayo, the Heat shot 4 of 18 from the field. Adebayo, though, was 4 of 4 from the field. At the half, he was 7 for 7 from the field for 16 points, along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Oh, and he can play defense a little. For one, he was just getting to his go-to in that 8 foot range, simply flowing right into the pull-up effortlessly. His second level of impact came through running the floor. Not through transition points, but getting Miami into early offense. Hand-off at 18 seconds at the shot clock isn’t the usual, but it is when your big is playing point guard. Lastly, the Heat’s shooters were being blitzed heavily. What does that mean? Slip, pocket pass, kick when tag comes, assist. Adebayo was doing some very good things in this one, if the stats didn’t say so already.

#2: The Heat’s defensive game-plan: a full game timeline. From bad to good to worse.

The Heat came out in pure Chicago Bulls match-up fashion: switch the pick and roll to have Adebayo shut the water off, as the Victor Oladipo/Max Strus type fights for his life by fronting the post. Quickly after Nikola Vucevic started 4 of 4, the Heat shifted to a zone. From there, Zach LaVine got hot through shooting spot-ups above the break, largely decided by the Heat’s 2-3 zone. But then the adjustment came. The Heat built a rhythm as they went back to more of that double and recover scheme. Basically if Vucevic was found as a mid-range post-up hub, or DeRozan got to his middy area, the Heat were shooting over a second defender. That caused turnovers, and got Miami easy buckets for a positive run to finish the first half. The issue was that it seemed they couldn’t get back to that. In the second half, the switching returned, and so did Vucevic’s interior scoring. Point of attack issues continue to re-appear. The theme: this team has good stretches of game-plan, but it usually fades on night’s like this.

#3: A minor play for many, a telling play for me.

As I stated before, Herro was seeing doubles out of the PnR in this one. Yes I know, no surprise. He had a slow start, but began picking up as a scorer late in the second quarter. But more importantly, he was making the right pocket pass reads along the way. To finish the second quarter, he flows right into a middle of the floor PnR, and the same doubles flies his way. Except this time, the pocket pass wasn’t thrown. He got up in the air, turned, and flung an over-head pass to Robinson on the left wing for three. Those are the minor elements needed to perfect the overplaying he’s going to see. It’s not always going to be the conventional way to get him out of awkward scenarios. Plays like that are important to shelf for the moment.

#4: A certain Oladipo led lineup explains a lot of the night.

In pockets of this game, the Heat went to a certain 5 man lineup that I proclaimed the “let Dipo cook” grouping: Oladipo-Robinson-Strus with a mixture of Highsmith-Cain-Dedmon. Obviously a tough lineup to try and win generally, but it was all about Oladipo creating at the top of the key for himself or others. And well, that wasn’t a good thing. The issue was that when he was creating for others, that never seemed to end in a positive result. Nothing against his play-making or constant skip passes, but the reliance on Dedmon as a hand-off hub says a lot. Plus Dipo’s own shot wasn’t falling consistently, and there’s a heavy reliance on the three-ball. The Heat ran a reluctant eight man rotation in this one, but it was clear those off pockets of the game were too tough to overcome on either end of the floor.

#5: So, about the Bulls relation to the Heat…

When speaking trades, there are many teams that will be looking to tank even further in search of that number 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Other teams will just begin to sell as they fall down the charts, which includes the Chicago Bulls. When watching this team live tonight, it raises the question of who would improve this roster. Well the answer to that is many of them, but let me just stay with DeMar DeRozan. If you can find a way to add him to this roster, you do it. I know it’s not the prettiest fit on paper, but watching Spo tinker with Sioux Falls players every night to try and make it work, just give him the talent. Figure everything else out later. Obviously this is an ideal scenario, but it doesn’t feel as out of reach as past conversation. In my personal opinion, I’d try and poke around that as long as possible.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Spurs

The Heat faced the Spurs in Mexico City on Saturday afternoon, and it was another back and forth event.

Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro provided enough offensive pressure throughout, while Victor Oladipo and Duncan Robinson truly stood out.

Robinson forced the second half run, Oladipo gave Miami some point of attack push back 1-on-1.

Some takeaways…

#1: Tyler Herro’s passing/Bam Adebayo’s rolling.

Before things took a bit of a turn, there was a certain Heat offensive staple they were getting to often: Tyler Herro/Bam Adebayo PnR. With Kyle Lowry out, it meant more ball-handling/creating reps for Herro at point guard. While I enjoy the stuff in the half-court, the full-court creation allows us to appreciate the control of Lowry. Herro got to the floater immediately in this one, then followed that up with keeping Tre Jones on his back before drawing the foul. From there, the setting up took off, as the Adebayo roll was the weakness of the Spurs defense. Live on-ball pressure combined with rolling gravity is quite the combo. The only issue is that it feels like when it’s connecting often, don’t stray away for two or three possessions. Make that defense stop it, then adjust from there.

#2: The Spurs early run: putting a certain Heat player in every action.

With 4 minutes left in the first quarter, Bam Adebayo exited the game with a 20-12 lead. 3 minutes later, he was coming back into the game down 5 with a score of 20-25. How did that happen? Well, the Spurs made it pretty clear that they weren’t going to get away from their offensive game-plan: attack Dewayne Dedmon in drop. I don’t want to give him all the blame, since the point of attack defense was bending a decent amount, but the goal was simply to create 2-on-1’s with Dedmon containing. We’ve talked often about the back-up big man situation, and it almost felt like Orlando Robinson is worthy of more opportunity. It isn’t helping Dedmon either that his foot injury continues to linger. The non-Bam minutes need figuring out.

#3: My thoughts on the Jovic-Bam minutes.

On paper, that front-court screams versatility and creativity. Two big guys who have the ability to both run the floor, and create opportunities for others through their passing ability. A movement offense dream. But it doesn’t ever seem to be utilized in that fashion. As noted to begin this piece, the early offense was heavy in the PnR direction with Bam and Herro, meaning Nikola Jovic is used as a spot-up guy. Of course that is fine, but those 7 minutes of play in a half are basically wasted by that point. They have the upside for sure, but the utilization next to each other feels like it needs to be elevated.

#4: Jimmy Butler flips an offensive switch in the third quarter.

In a back and forth game, the Heat needed somebody to takeover as the offensive hub to open up the second half. That guy ended up being Jimmy Butler. While they couldn’t break away by any means due to the continued defensive bending, Butler allowed Miami to stay somewhat parallel in that third quarter. Side pick and rolls down that baseline began drawing Spurs’ big men out little by little, which pretty much set up his constant drives and finishes around the rim. His slow and methodical play-style gave Miami some half-court offensive hope, along with the constant trips to the line. On the positive side, Butler was the one to put the Heat in a decent position.

#5: Duncan Robinson providing boost for Heat…Heat providing sets for Duncan Robinson.

Aside from the Butler tone setting to kick off the second half, Robinson kept them alive for large pockets of that span. Was it just Robinson hitting open shots? Well sometimes, but it was more than that. They were running sets for him again. Herro walks down to the left wing, as Robinson and Bam set up for double drag. Two fly at Herro, Bam sets the second screen, and he throws a skip pass to a wide open Robinson for the open bucket. A little bit later, they run a version of Horns with Robinson and Bam at each elbow. Robinson slips the screen to the opposite wing by Bam, who then sets the down-screen. Big time three-point shot by Robinson is the result. The very next play, they run a curl for Robinson in the same area, who draws two. He hits Bam with a pocket pass as Bam skies for a dunk. We still need to see consistency in his shooting, but watching the team run these type of sets is great to see.