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Miami Heat Secure 4 or 5 Seed in Eastern Conference

The Miami Heat have had their fair share of ups and downs during their time in the bubble. But finally secured a 4 or 5 seed, due to a Philadeplia 76ers loss to the hot Phoenix Suns.

This means that the Miami Heat will match-up with either the Indiana Pacers or Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, which seems to look more and more like Indiana due to the 76ers superstar inuries. This also means that the Miami Heat will be avoiding a Boston Celtics first round match-up, which is obviously a huge positive for this Heat team.

Consequently, Miami will most likely have to face the number one team in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks, in a possible second round match-up. And the Heat will feel much better than the Bucks do heading into that match-up. Miami is 2-1 against the Bucks this year, and the one loss occurred this week in a game without Jimmy Butler, and the Heat lead by 17 at the half.

This seems to be best case scenario for this Heat team, since they can face a banged up Indiana team, and avoid a second round Boston or Toronto match-up, which would be much tougher for Miami than the Milwaukee match-up.

Miami needs either one win or one Indiana loss to secure the 4 seed, which doesn’t matter much since there’s no home court advantage. We may see some of Miami’s veteran players sit out during these games, or will definitely get limited minutes.

If the Heat face off against the Indiana Pacers in the first round, it will be expected that Miami brings the same energy that they brought last night. Especially since there are so many intriguing match-ups on the floor, including Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren.

 

5 Post-Game Comments from Spoelstra, Herro, Adebayo

After another tough loss to the Phoenix Suns, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo talked about the game in a very positive way. This included a lot of high praise for their new starting point guard, Tyler Herro. Here’s what was said…

Post-Game Comment #1:

Tyler Herro has been playing shooting guard since his arrival into the NBA, since that is his main position. But, the Heat have seemed to want Tyler to expand his role into a primary point guard. Tyler says, “I felt comfortable.” That’s the most important trait for a point guard, especially one who hasn’t played much point previously. He also mentions that he’s been working on this aspect of game during the break. Spoelstra also says that he thinks Tyler did a solid job today, which may ultimately mean he will have that starting spot for good.

Post-Game Comment #2:

Bam Adebayo was asked about the Heat’s most important part of the team that needs to be fixed. He says, “Knowing how to win in close games.” This is definitely much harder to do without your best player on the court. Both Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic have been huge in second halves of games this season, since they slow the game down for the young guys on the team. As time goes on, Bam and Tyler will begin to pick up on things at ends of games, which is the best thing for this team in the long run.

Post-Game Comment #3:

Coach Erik Spoelstra talked about the improvements Bam has made and some things he already has instilled. He says, “Getting Bam to play winning basketball is not high, because he does that.” He seems to have the ultimate trust in Bam, but it seems as if Bam doesn’t have that same trust in himself at times. Bam always is reluctant to shoot the mid-range, which is something players and coaches have been urging him to do. He also gets slightly passive at ends of games, which when you’re the team’s best player on the court, you need to look to score. Bam also made a huge play at the end of the game which was a block that was called a goal tend, but Spoelstra thinks otherwise.

Post-Game Comment #4:

Tyler Herro expands on his ball handling conversation with some information on how this came about. Tyler says, “I’ve always had the ball in my hands, in high school, and in college some.” This is definitely true that Tyler was the point guard in high school, but he was a straight scoring point guard. He says this time in earlier years has helped him grow, and feels he can impact the game in other ways that shooting. He mentions it’s very tough to balance play-making and scoring, and says “I’m sure I missed some guys open tonight.” Even if he did miss some open guys, it doesn’t matter when you’re a 20 year old rookie with the amount of natural skills in his arsenal.

Post-Game Comment #5:

The Heat had some leeway with their seeding at the beginning of the bubble games, but after a few losses, these Indiana match-ups matter much more. Bam says, “This is bigger than (TJ) or Jimmy. We want to get in the playoffs and make a run.” This team is no longer worried about the petty fights that occured earlier in the season, it’s now time to win. Spoelstra talks about this Indiana match-up with the same exact mindset, saying “You know us, it’s who we are,” when referring to approaching these games with a winning mentality. This is not to say Jimmy won’t rise up to the occasion for this match-up, which very well may happen, but this team is much more concerned about falling to 6 than fighting with TJ Warren.

5 Takeaways from Suns Victory Over Short-Handed Heat Team

The Miami Heat played yet another game short-handed against the Phoenix Suns, due to Jimmy Butler, Goran Drgaic, and Kendrick Nunn being out. Miami fell short to Phoenix, 119-112, even with big games from the Heat’s young projects. Here are some takeaways from this game…

#1: Duncan Robinson uses team’s offensive shortage to expand his game.

Duncan Robinson seems to be one of the keys to every game the Heat play, but this was a different Duncan. I previously mentioned him expanding his game on the ball in this game, due to the fact that three of Miami’s four best scorers were out. Duncan definitely has some tricks in his bag that don’t involve catching and shooting, but he hasn’t been able to showcase them much. Tonight, he showed his ability to attack the basket, which seemed to catch the Suns off guard since it definitely wasn’t on the scouting report. People also forget that this is basically Duncan’s rookie year, which means he has plenty of time to develop this side of his game.

#2: Gabe Vincent utilizes minutes to try and earn rotation spot, but showcases another aspect.

With Kendrick Nunn away from the team at the moment, Tyler Herro was called up to the starting lineup and consequently lead to Gabe Vincent minutes off of the bench. This gave Gabe the opportunity to prove he can get minutes on this team, especially with Kendrick’s recent struggles. Although Gabe struggled shooting the ball from deep, which is his strength, he proved the other parts of his game are just as strong. He seemed to be a good play-maker, a high basketball IQ, and most importantly solid defense. These are some things that have been in question for Kendrick Nunn over the last few games, which may ultimately lead to yet another lineup change.

#3. Miami using new strategy, which is attacking team’s best player.

The Heat have seemed to try out a new offensive strategy through these few bubble games, which has been to get the other team’s best player in foul trouble. They have continued to attack early in games over the last week, which lead to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Marcus Smart early foul trouble. They also tried to attack Devin Booker early in today’s game, but it evidently didn’t lead to fouls. This may not be a bad idea to do, especially with the amount of physical offensive players on this roster. This also points to another advantage for the Heat over the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s been pretty easy to get 76er’s star Joel Embiid in foul trouble this year, which may ultimately be their game plan in a series against him. This may be something to keep your eye on over the course of Miami’s next few games.

#4: Tyler Herro tries to match his player comparison, Devin Booker.

Tyler Herro has continually been compared to Devin Booker, which is as good of a comparison as you can get. Tyler has said that he tries to model his game after him, and has watched a lot of film of him over the break. And with Tyler being the starting point guard tonight, he was looked at to try and match Devin Booker’s scoring, which is far from an easy task. But, Tyler Herro did just about that. He showed a lot of Devin Booker flashes scoring the ball with 25 points, but really stepped up as the point guard. He continues to showcase different ball-handling packages and most importantly his play-making, which he ended the game with 10 assists. He seems to be very comfortable at this position now, even more comfortable than Kendrick looked at the point. Tyler used this as a statement game to prove he will be the starting point guard on this team for a long time to come.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s offensive motor more important now than ever.

After Bam talked about his body not responding as quickly as it usually does during a media session yesterday, there were a lot of questions about him in today’s game. But, he began to make that jump that was much needed in a game without three of your offensive talents. He also seemed confident in his jump shot from 15 feet early in the first, which seemed Chris Bosh-esque, but it just wasn’t falling. This lead to the basket attacking Bam Adebayo that Heat fans have been waiting for in the second quarter. This included some post-moves, finishing at the rim, and a pair of And-1 plays. With all of the elite shooting on this roster, Bam is key to open up the floor for all of their shooters. Once Bam becomes a consistent offensive problem for other teams, this will elevate this Heat team to the next level.

Heat’s Kendrick Nunn leaves NBA Bubble, leaving guard shortage (w/UPDATE)

The Miami Heat, already likely without Goran Dragic (ankle) and Jimmy Butler (foot) for Saturday’s game against the hot Phoenix Suns, will be without Kendrick Nunn for longer.

Nunn left the NBA’s Bubble on Friday to attend to a personal issue, according to multiple sources.

UPDATE: He is expected to return this weekend, to begin the NBA’s mandated quarantine period, which starts at four days. That would make him available for the playoffs that begin the week of August 17th.

The rookie guard was late coming to the Bubble after testing positive for Covid-19, but this is not related to the disease or any other health matter in any way.

It also, according to a source, is not directly related to Nunn’s struggles on the court, which caused coach Erik Spoelstra to publicly support him in a Zoom conference call with media earlier on Friday.

There have been concerns of late inside the organization about Nunn’s focus of late, according to sources. But they were aware he might need to leave the bubble to address the issue.

Without Nunn, the Heat will likely start rookie Tyler Herro — who seems ready for an ascension — or rookie Gabe Vincent, who was listed as probable after being unavailable the past couple of games. Both Herro and Vincent will probably play a lot, because Miami is now very short on perimeter players.

Goran Dragic spoke to the media Friday for the first time since rolling his ankle twice against Boston on Tuesday, and said that the injury was not as bad as he initially thought, and that he would try to get some extra work in on Friday night. But he also said he wants to be judicious, and with the Heat likely headed for a 4 or 5 seed no matter what happens in the final four games, there’s no reason to push him.

 

 

The other question is when Jimmy Butler returns.

He missed Tuesday and Thursday’s game with a sore foot, which is not believed to keep him out for any games once the playoffs start the week of August 17th.

But he also is being careful, as is the team, not to do too much too fast.

And he was at practice with the team.

Erik Spoelstra has spoken about the Heat’s depth being an advantage.

It will certainly be tested now, against a Suns squad that is playing well behind Devin Booker, and aiming for a play-in spot in the Western Conference.

5 Main Comments from Media Availability with Spoelstra, Dragic, Adebayo

The Miami Heat had an early practice on Friday, a day after a loss to the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks. There’s also some injury statuses in question as we get closer and closer to the post-season. Here’s what was said on the call…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Since Miami is set to play Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns, Erik Spoelstra spoke a little about him. He said, “We really liked him.” This was referring back to the 2015 draft where Miami had a chance to select Devin at pick 10. Erik also adds, “His game has grown.” The Miami Heat have definitely seen his game continue to grow, which is why they wouldn’t pass on this type of player twice. Tyler Herro has also been looking closely into Devin’s game, since he watches a great amount of film on him. Devin Booker is what all Heat fans want Tyler Herro to become, which can hopefully make up for the 2015 draft decision.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Erik Spoelstra also talked about the recent struggles from point guard Kendrick Nunn. He said, “He just needs more time, similar to Bam.” He also adds that it takes time to regain your rhythm and reminds everybody of how good Kendrick was playing before the break. Something that should be taken into account with these struggles is the recent virus that they contracted. There is still so much unknown to it, that it may impact their bodies even though they were asymptomatic. Bam also mentioned that his body isn’t responding as quickly as it usually does. If this is the case, Kendrick Nunn may be given the ultimate trust from this coaching staff to bounce back from this shooting slump. And as Spoelstra said, “We need him because he provides something that is different.”

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Goran Dragic also spoke with some media about his injury status. He said, “I was a little bit concerned, it was painful, I did it twice in that game…It’s day by day.” Although this team needs Goran Dragic on the floor to be successful, the most important thing is that he is totally 100%. It’s already a risk to play a 34 year old on a back to back, especially when they play a ton of minutes. Goran also mentions that he started shooting today and it’s a little sore, but he thinks he’s going in the right direction. With this injury information pretty clear, there’s still some other unknown injuries on this team, including Heat’s star Jimmy Butler.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Bam Adebayo talked about yesterday’s foul situation and if he’d like to play through it. He said, “It depends on the situation and the game flow.” He says that if they are in a good rhythm than he would encourage the team to let him play through it, but in a situation like yesterday, “It’s a hard decision.” On a night where Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic are out, you need an offensively active Bam Adebayo, But since he got in foul trouble early, it definitely turned the tide. Bam Adebayo seems to thrive with his co-star, Jimmy Butler, out on the floor, which is why there shouldn’t be too much worry about this situation.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Erik Spoelstra made a decision at the beginning of this NBA restart, which was taking Meyers Leonard from a starter to out of the rotation. Spoelstra said, “These are tough situations…I had to treat that situation with an open mind.” This decision seemed to be made for versatility reasons. This team’s roster is filled with versatile wings that can defend, which has seemed to fix the defensive problems. But, it definitely was surprising that he wouldn’t be getting any minutes off of the bench. He also mentions that Meyers “helped us win” this season, but feels this is best for them right now. He says he’s open to change if necessary as time progresses.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Late Collapse Against Milwaukee

The Miami Heat played a tough game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday afternoon without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, and fell short 130-116. This game was clearly a tale of two halves, since Miami came out with fire in their eyes in the first half and became slightly complacent in the second half. Here’s my five takeaways from this game…

#1: Although a tough outcome, Miami should feel better than Milwaukee does.

The Miami Heat were going into a match-up with the best team in the NBA without two main pieces, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. But well, the team showed up in the first half. Emphasis on first half. They played at an elite level on both sides of the ball, which was pretty suprising. But, they slowly fell apart in the second half. It was evident this was because they did not have a go to guy on the floor. All of the best lineups this season included either Goran Dragic or Jimmy Butler. This is why Miami fans should feel pretty good about this game. Without veteran leadership on the court, it’s hard for guys to sustain a lead or close a game. With a healthy Jimmy and Goran, Milwaukee should hope that they don’t have to face this physical Heat team.

#2: Tyler Herro’s scoring wasn’t even his best attribute.

Tyler Herro exploded in the first half for 16 points, which lead to Miami’s huge lead. He proved that he can be good at many aspects of his game including his play-making, rebounding, and most importantly defense. His defense has been in question for quite some time along with his teammates Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn. But the difference with Tyler is that he continues to improve on defense every night. He played exceptional on-ball defense on the offensively talented guards and wings from Milwaukee’s roster. Tyler will need to clean up some mistakes with decision making that have consequently lead to turnovers, but the more he plays in games like this, the more he will learn.

#3: Miami’s wings prove to be the only viable Giannis stoppers. Well kind of.

The Heat began the game the same way they did in their two previous match-ups. Frustrating Giannis. Miami has pretty much showed that their plan against the Bucks is to contain Giannis, and let the supporting cast beat you. They continued to double team and draw fouls on Antetokounmpo, which lead to Miami’s huge lead. Miami’s ability to throw multiple bodies at Giannis is what separates them from the rest. They threw Bam, Crowder, Iguodala, and DJJ at him throughout, since this seems to be their only offense during tough stretches. But, you can only contain him so much. On a day that didn’t seem to go very well for Giannis, he still ended up with 33 points on 77% shooting. This will be a rough series for Giannis if they were to match-up, since he will have to outwork all of these guys 4 out of 7 times.

#4: Duncan Robinson is clearly an elite shooter, but finally overcoming tough defense. 

Duncan Robinson has not only been an outstanding three point shooter, but an absolute efficient one. There began to be uncertainty if teams would begin to figure out Duncan’s game, like Toronto did early in the week, but he’s beginning to overcome it. He continues to show that he will need much more than a hand in his face to not have a green light. He has been using a pump-fake and side step fadeaways much more comfortably than he did before the NBA restart. Duncan is beginning to realize how huge his offensive role is on this team, which is why Miami runs on Duncan.

#5: Kendrick Nunn may be slowly playing his way out of the starting lineup.

Kendrick Nunn has been such an intriguing young player this season since he was a natural scorer. But well, this hasn’t been the case as of late. In a game that was supposed to be his breakout game, without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, it still didn’t occur. He scored 14 points on 29% shooting, and still has not shown improvements on the defensive side of the ball. And with Tyler Herro’s continued scoring and defensive improvements, he may be getting closer and closer to that starting point guard spot. If Kendrick doesn’t fix this quick, Spoelstra will have to make the decision going forward, which may occur even faster than you may expect.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Against the Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat were coming off of a tough loss against the Toronto Raptors, but rallied against Boston to get the win, 112-106. Jimmy Butler did not play today due to ankle soreness, but the team rose up to the occasion. Here’s my 5 takeaways from this game…

#1: Tyler Herro appears to be back to himself.

Tyler Herro has struggled a bit shooting the ball during his time in the bubble. This all shifted today when Tyler finally found his rhythm. I’ve said many times that Tyler’s game revolves around his shooting early in the game, due to confidence. Once Tyler sees the ball go through the net, he’s very hard to stop. Another big improvement that was seen in Tyler’s game today was his defense. He continues to showcase his active hands, quick feet, and natural instincts on the defensive end. Definitely not too bad for a guy that’s only 20 years old.

#2: Derrick Jones Jr elevates Miami’s defense.

Derrick Jones Jr has been one of the most effective defenders on this Heat team, and the absence of Jimmy Butler improved his minutes. Derrick is definitely a card that Erik Spoelstra will use if they were to face off against Boston in the playoffs. His main assignment was to guard the Celtic’s star Jayson Tatum, and he did this pretty well. He forced Tatum into shooting 2/5 in the first half, which is not an easy task. If Derrick had the help of Jimmy Butler on defense to guard Kemba Walker, this would disrupt Boston even more.

#3: Bam Adebayo needs to trust his offensive game more.

Bam Adebayo seemed to be as present as Jimmy Butler was early in the first quarter. But that slowly changed after Bam realized the importance of his offensive game. He began to use his strength, which is his athleticism around the rim. This lead to Bam’s 21 points, along with 18 free throw attempts. This was his career high in free throw attempts. This may be because this bubble format has increased the amount of foul calls, which is why Bam will need to attack the basket just as his teammate, Jimmy Butler, does. After showcasing his offensive dominance, Bam will need to continue to trust his scoring abilities as much as Heat fans do.

#4: Without Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic is essential.

Due to the absence of Jimmy Butler, it hurts their amount of play-making leaders on the roster. This is why Goran Dragic was going to be looked to in this match-up, even on a back-to-back which definitely doesn’t benefit him. Goran’s success scoring the ball today was all strategy. He was facing a tough defensive match-up off of the bench, in Marcus Smart, but he prioritized and took advantage of switches, which lead to many Goran Dragic iso’s on Boston’s bigs. Goran was a little shaken up on the final play of the game with an apparent ankle injury, and went to the locker room. With the hopes of a healthy Goran Dragic, the duo of him and Jimmy Butler will be a scary site for teams in fourth quarters come playoff time.

#5: The Boston match-up may not be as scary as it seems.

The Miami Heat have pretty much dominated every top team in the East this season, except the Boston Celtics. This is why this win feels so much better for the Heat than any other game of this regular season restart. And of course, they were without their star Jimmy Butler. The reason that Miami has struggled with Boston is because of match-ups. But well, the match-ups didn’t seem to be a problem today. This may be because of the lineup change of Jae Crowder for Meyers Leonard, which adds much more versatility and matches up with Boston’s wings. Kelly Olynyk also entered the starting lineup, who has been very impressive in the bubble. After this win, Miami definitely feels a lot better about themselves tonight than they did yesterday.

Tuesday Primer: Can the Heat free Robinson, get playmaking?

The Miami Heat are currently 1-1 in the NBA bubble after a blowout win against Denver and a close loss to Toronto. The Heat play the Boston Celtics tonight on the second night of a back to back. 

 

As the stakes are getting higher, teams are beginning to deploy special defensive schemes against the Heat. We saw this specifically by the Toronto Raptors against Duncan Robinson by running two players at him consistently and forcing him to pass the ball, in the rare occasions he got it at all. If the Heat were going to win that game, Raptors coach Nick Nurse made sure it wasn’t because Robinson torched them from the three.

 

This is just the beginning of the special attention Robinson will face moving forward. Robinson struggled to impact the game in other ways and was seemingly unproductive in 22 minutes of play time scoring 3 points on 1-5 shooting and grabbing 2 rebounds with a +/- of -1.  And he wasn’t in at the end.

When the playoffs begin, Robinson should expect even more attention from defenses to prevent him from getting good looks. Teams are scouting him and in a seven game series teams will adapt to Miami’s offense. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will undoubtedly unveil some new sets for Robinson to help him get better looks and to counter opposing defenses. 

 

But when opposing defenses are able to neutralize Robinson, it emphasizes the Heat’s lack of a true point guard and someone who can consistently create off the dribble other than Jimmy Butler. Rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro along with veteran Goran Dragic are the primary candidates to fill that need. Herro already gets fourth quarter minutes due to his ability to score, as well as make plays for others and handle the ball. Herro lives to play in the spotlight, so closing the end of games is what Herro wants. 

 

Nunn struggled against the Raptors too. He shot 0/7 from the field including 0/5 from the three, grabbed 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 points, a turnover in 16 minutes of action. Similarly to Robinson, Nunn often struggles to positively impact the game when he is not scoring. However, Nunn has more ball-handling skill and should be able to drive and create plays for others. His playmaking skills are still developing and he is not a true point guard, so it’s hard to expect solid playoff caliber point guard play from a rookie scorer. 

 

If Nunn continues to disappoint on the offensive end, we might see a change in the starting lineup — to Herro or Dragic. Herro came to the bubble showing an improved handle and ability to score off the bounce, especially when his shots were not falling. He continues to develop into a three level scorer which will be important in the playoffs. A change to the starting guard position might be the spark the starting unit needs in playoff games. However, this switch might disrupt the overall chemistry of the rotation. Unless Nunn, Herro, or both can show playmaking (and defensive) potential this year we should expect Miami’s front office to chase a strong 2 way guard this off season.

Miami will have a good test tonight against Boston, who has beat them twice already this season. 

The Boston Celtics are also 1-1 in the NBA restart and have played in two, down to the wire, high scoring games. Boston’s wings have been fantastic, but now with Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala, Spoelstra has more options to guard them. In their first matchup this season, wing Jaylen Brown went off for 31 points and in their second matchup Hayward and Brown combined for 54 points. And of course, the Celtics have Kemba Walker who, even on a minutes limit due to a sore knee, will be a serious test for Miami’s guards.

5 Post-Game Comments from Spoelstra, Adebayo, Dragic

After the Miami Heat had a tough loss to the Toronto Raptors, they talked with some media about the game. There seems to be one common mistake that they all think came up. Here’s what was said…

Post-Game Comment #1:

Spoelstra begins talking about the number one thing on people’s minds. Duncan Robinson. Spoelstra said that Duncan will need to figure out how to work through this. This definitely is true, but it’s difficult when the offense runs through your three point shot. This will cause Spo to adjust the offense into a different direction when this occurs. Another thing Spoelstra mentioned is that he thinks this will ultimately help Duncan in the long run. As mentioned before, this defensive scheme is going to come up a lot in a playoff series, once teams realize his importance. Hopefully he can develop his game on ball, which will ultimately help his game off the catch and shoot.

Post-Game Comment #2:

Goran Dragic talks about where the game went wrong and how to fix it. He said, “We were down 17, and we came back.” This comeback was all lead by Goran himself, since he seemed to be one of the only ones that could get his offensive game going. He also mentions that although they came back, they need to be careful how they got down by 17. This seemed to just be because of Miami’s inefficient shooting today. They looked pretty crisp on defense throughout, but went through long stretches without scoring the ball, which was evidently where the game got lost.

Post-Game Comment #3:

Goran Dragic also touched on Duncan Robinson’s inability to get his offensive game going. He said, “For us, it’s about us figuring how to get Duncan more open shots and get the ball in the paint.” This seems to lead back to the same conclusion as before. Adjustments. If they want to get him open looks, they’re going to need to take advantage of the other parts of the offense, which is something they didn’t do today. Goran also says he felt that they got open shots in the first half, but just couldn’t make them. He said that ended up affecting their defense in the first half, which expanded the lead to 17. These are definitely easy things to fix, but will need to lock back in for a tough game against Boston tomorrow.

Post-Game Comment #4:

Bam Adebayo gave some pretty straight up answers today in his media availability. He said, “We gotta execute, that’s the bottom line.” The problem with the execution today was in the first half. They looked to clean it up in the second half, but still wasn’t what they’re happy with. Bam definitely needs to be more active on offense in games like this, since he’s a major part of this team. He definitely was huge for Miami with his perimeter defense on smaller guards, but needs to be more confident in his mid-range. Bam also wasn’t too happy when he saw Duncan only took 4 shots. He kept emphasizing that this needs to be fixed and will look to get Duncan more shots.

Post-Game Comment #5:

Goran Dragic also got to talking about the most crucial play in the game. The final one. He says, “We want to be in this situation,” when discussing the dive pick and roll with Jimmy Butler. This is obviously a play that they’ve went over a bunch in practice, but ultimately wasn’t the best decision against this team. With the Raptors scrappiness and active hands, there’s no need to force a pass like that. You ultimately want a guy like Jimmy Butler or Tyler Herro with the ball, since they can create for themselves. It was also an interesting move not to have Duncan in the game on the play, even if he was to just be a decoy. These situations will definitely be critiqued over the next few weeks, since Spoelstra will need to get late game possessions corrected for the playoffs.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Loss Against the Toronto Raptors

The Miami Heat came up short against the Toronto Raptors, 107-103. Toronto seemed to have a good game plan for Miami early, while Miami battled back in the second half. Here’s my five takeaways from this game…

#1: Butler can score when he wants, but it’s his choice.

Jimmy Butler has been looked at as everything except a scorer this season, since his play-making abilities have been so elite. But today, he came out the gate with a scoring purpose. He showed that when this team isn’t knocking down their threes, he can step up. The problem is that sometimes he doesn’t choose to step up. He seems to get a little passive at times when he can easily attack the basket and score. Especially at the end of the game, Jimmy should be looking to score, instead of giving the ball up every possession. Jimmy will need to take more of a scoring load when the playoffs come around, especially late in games.

#2: Heat’s defense continues to show improvements.

Miami’s perimeter defense has continually been a problem this season. But, it was pretty clear they improved this in their first game back against Denver, when Denver shot 8/35 from deep. Today, it showed positive signs as well, even though Toronto scored the ball pretty efficiently. This may have a little something to do with the versatility in the lineup, now that Jae Crowder entered the starting lineup for Meyers Leonard. As Bam said, it’s a lot easier when you can switch everything. Miami also seemed to play a lot of help defense throughout. This forced Toronto into having 21 turnovers, which was one of the major keys to Miami’s second half run.

#3: Duncan Robinson gets targeted on offense.

Duncan Robinson has been Miami’s biggest offensive weapon all season. But, the Toronto Raptors seemed to read the scouting report, since they absolutely blanketed Duncan throughout this game. This did lead to more paint points for others, especially Jimmy Butler. This technique will definitely not be a one time thing. Teams will do this more and more, especially when they know your offense in a playoff series. I definitely don’t think Duncan should’ve just been taken out of their regular offense, which seems to be what happened in the second half. The Heat are going to need to figure out how to adjust their offense when this happens, since they’re losing a major scoring piece.

#4: Goran Dragic seems to be Heat’s biggest X-factor.

Goran Dragic entered the game in the first quarter and took control of the team. The play was slightly sloppy early, but he got the offense going. He also was Miami’s most important piece in their second half run. Goran Dragic will be a very key piece for this team since he has such a complete offensive package coming off of the bench. He seemed to struggle with the play-making side of his game today, but this is why Tyler Herro has taken some of the play-making responsibility off of the bench. Goran will also begin to be utilized more in games when Kendrick Nunn doesn’t have his shooting stroke going, like today. He will definitely be looked to down the stretch of games, since he’s one of the Heat’s most trusted players.

#5: Heat’s toughness is team’s best attribute.

The Toronto Raptors seemed to pull out of reach early in the third quarter, with Miami’s inability to shoot the ball. And well, this all changed midway through the third. This was lead by the bench unit with Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. This lineup, surprisingly, began to adjust on defense, and eventually lead to Miami hitting some shots. This is because the guys on this roster are both physically and mentally tough. Coach Spo seemed to not only lean towards the hot hands down the stretch, but also the scrappy and physical players. This toughness is why the Heat are such an interesting team this year. If Miami hits their shots like usual, it’s hard not to categorize this team as one of the contenders.

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