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.