News

A Breakdown of Precious Achiuwa’s Two-Way Play

After not getting any playing time on Friday night in the win over the Utah Jazz, Precious Achiuwa made a huge impact on both ends of the floor against the Atlanta Hawks. He’s an intriguing young player, since he battles every step of the way in his limited minutes.

So, let’s take a look into Achiuwa’s two-way play against the Hawks…

– Switching onto small guards effectively

Achiuwa entered late in the first quarter, and made his defensive presence felt. Rajon Rondo is always searching to find the mismatch, but he quickly found out that Achiuwa covering him might not be a mismatch.

On the first play, he switches onto Rondo while Kendrick Nunn slides for the double. Rondo looks to pass it for an easy bucket, but Achiuwa’s active hands deflect the ball, leading to transition offense for Miami. The second possession was a similar thing, except Rondo looked to take him off the dribble this time. He utilizes his well-known ball fake, which got Achiuwa up in the air, but he somehow recovers.

Achiuwa’s energy and heart will be highlighted throughout a lot of these plays, but he also has natural defensive mechanics like quick recovery speed.

– A Precious move

This is a part of Achiuwa’s game that hasn’t been seen much, since most of his points come from put-backs or alley-oop dunks.

He utilizes a gather dribble after receiving the ball from Andre Iguodala, and goes right into a spin for an and-1. For starters, his footwork is highlighted here and proves to be pretty polished at this stage of his career. He also has a very solid left hand around the rim, which is why he has such flexibility around the basket, making it hard for defenders to block his craftiness.

If Miami can get consistent offense from him like this, it makes his Adebayo relief play even more realistic.

– The never-ending battle for offensive rebounds

When evaluating Achiuwa’s above average ability to locate offensive rebounds, it’s more than just his high energy. It has a lot to do with timing, since as seen here, he waits for the ball to fly off the rim and immediately runs to the front of the rim to grab it.

And take a look at how this play ended. It went from an empty possession to a Kendrick Nunn three, which is important for this team specifically since extra possessions are so crucial for them.

Here’s another example of that fight on the offensive boards. For one, he notices he’s battling with a guy that is his size, so he utilizes his right arm across his body to tip it up in the air.

This allows him to get possession of the ball, and take a look at how quickly he went back up with it. Quick decisions are important for young players, even if they’re not always the right decision. It led to another trip to the free throw line, which may come a lot for him due to his aggression down low.

– An ability to readjust

An interesting part about Achiuwa as a lob threat is his ability to read a team’s pick and roll defense.

Kendrick Nunn created a 2 on 1 opportunity, which John Collins slid up leading to the lob. Trae Young dropped down on Achiuwa, which means he could’ve clearly rushed the catch and laid it in. Except, he knows he can land and take it back up on the smaller Young, which is exactly what he did.

Once again, many young players without experience aren’t readjusting on that play. But Achiuwa knows his role so well at this point, that he can read situations by the rim pretty easily.

– Plays much bigger than he is

Achiuwa only being 6’8 does not seem to be the case most nights, since he plays as big of any center he matches up with. He’s powerful, physical, and well, isn’t afraid to throw it down.

On this play, Nunn’s improved play-making must be noted for a second. He draws two defenders when driving baseline, and instead of getting stuck, he throws a great bounce pass to Achiuwa under the basket.

He utilizes yet another gather dribble, which seems to be his safety net, and rises right up for an impressive slam. And once again, did not look like a guy that is only 6’8.

– Running the floor, playing above the rim

Another thing that must be discussed is Miami’s bench unit once fully healthy. Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro being in the back-court will be quite the offensive push, while Achiuwa always seems to thrive with them on the floor. But a name that hasn’t been linked to Achiuwa a lot is Iguodala, and he should.

Iguodala runs a lot of Miami’s offense, while a fantastic play-making ability means more opportunities for Achiuwa. These four guys complete Miami’s 9 man rotation for now, and it’s quite the mix of play styles.

On this play, though, take a look at Achiuwa to start the play. He’s way behind Iguodala, who is bringing the ball up the floor, and immediately turns on the burners to get straight to the basket. It seems as if Collins just gave up on the defensive possession for Atlanta, even when Achiuwa created the 2 on 1.

Of course, it led to an easy alley-oop finish for him, and there are more to come when that bench unit gets into a rhythm together pretty soon.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

The Miami Heat expand their win streak to six after a win against the Atlanta Hawks. The Heat were without Jimmy Butler, which meant a close game down the stretch was going to be a bit different. But Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo all hit needed shots to spark a 10-0 run late in the game. Here are five takeaways from the game….

#1: Gabe Vincent becomes an unexpected spark, occurring on a surprising side of the ball.

Well, Gabe Vincent fell onto this takeaway piece in an interesting way, since it usually means he had a great scoring night. His impact was actually felt on the defensive end, which seems to be the reason for his jump in minutes. Coach Spo trusts the 2-3 zone and full court press when Vincent and Andre Iguodala are at the top of it, which is an interesting duo. The clear point was to disrupt Trae Young on constant blitzes early, then team trapping in the sets that I just discussed. Vincent is a physical defender, which means fouls obviously come along with that, but the spark he brought for Miami in that first half was the reason the lead was as big as it was.

#2: Precious Achiuwa showing why he deserves consistent minutes.

Precious Achiuwa didn’t hear his name called on Friday night against the Utah Jazz, which was a bit of a surprise, even though Coach Spo made it clear he just wanted an extra perimeter defender on the floor. And well, Achiuwa had his name called tonight against the Hawks, and proved why he deserves minutes. You can question Achiuwa’s weak ball-handling skills at this stage, or his below average passing ability, but the one thing that can’t be questioned is his heart and constant battle on both ends of the floor. He was huge on the boards throughout the game, against a very active rebounder in Clint Capela. He’s always been an offensive threat on the roll above the rim, but he showed other abilities in his offensive game. He has a great feel for a defense, which means he can readjust a lob pass, take that one dribble, and go back up for a dunk. And that is not something a lot of young bigs have in their arsenal.

#3: Kendrick Nunn, the consistent piece once again.

Some people may be getting sick of hearing Kendrick Nunn’s name in every one of these takeaway pieces, but he absolutely deserves it and must be noted. He’s becoming the one consistent piece on the team for their offense, meaning the team knows what he will give them every single night. The intriguing part of his offensive game that I’ve noted a lot in the past, is his catch and shoot improvements. That may have something to do with an increased confidence that has been instilled in him, but wide open kick-outs to K-Nunn should worry a defense as much as anybody on the Heat. It’s been discussed that a huge reason for Nunn’s success over this stretch is Jimmy Butler, but tonight proved he’s just in a great rhythm individually. Also, the play-making attribute is beginning to take that big leap. It’s not about the assist numbers as much as it is the comfort level with setting up offense for Miami, and that will keep him on the floor, even if scoring tails off a bit for a stretch.

#4: A John Collins showcase game against Miami.

It seems necessary to stray off from Miami Heat analysis for a moment, to take a look at a guy Miami could be linked to in the near future, John Collins. Some may label this game as a bit of a showcase for Collins, who is a South Florida native, and if that was the case, he took full advantage of it. When evaluating certain power forwards to slot next to Bam Adebayo, Collins seems to fit that description pretty well. He proved that offense can work through him in any spot on the floor, and he’s definitely not just an above the rim threat. He has an ability to take guys off the dribble and get downhill, the mid-range pull-up and turn-arounds were falling, and the three point shot can clearly be utilized. He has some work to do defensively, but that can be tweaked upon arrival. This is the type of game that the organization will remember for some time when they’re looking to make a certain move.

#5: Tyler Herro struggles early in return, but gets into a rhythm in the fourth.

Tyler Herro definitely didn’t have the greatest start to his return, which is normal since it takes some time to get your legs back under you and get into any sort of rhythm. But well, it only took three quarters until he turned that around in the fourth quarter. There’s always a moment with Herro in which he flips a switch to retain offensive confidence, which is when his normal body language returns searching for a bucket. Goran Dragic getting inserted into the starting lineup meant that regular bench unit wasn’t seen once again, but it’ll clearly elevate both of their play by bouncing off one another, with an explosive big man reserve in Achiuwa. Herro may struggle with finding consistent one-on-one separation without an Adebayo screen, but he’s still young and improving in his strongest areas. If he can find a way to get consistent play after the All-Star break, barring no Covid contact tracing or injuries, that growth will be displayed the more he gets into a natural rhythm.

Is Precious Achiuwa’s Role Actually Being “Simplified?”

When Erik Spoelstra was asked a few weeks ago about Precious Achiuwa possibly playing next to Bam Adebayo, he mentioned wanting to “simplify” Achiuwa’s game as much as possible. But is it all that simple?

For starters, the idea over the past few games that he’s getting his minutes cut down is not the whole story. The real reason for that is because Miami beginning to get healthy, means Coach Spoelstra wants Adebayo to be on the floor as much as possible. And every minute he is on the bench, Achiuwa is on the floor.

It seems as if his role though is not as simple as being the Adebayo relief guy. It’s a complicated role for a rookie to play since his minutes come in spurts, without having time to actually get into a rhythm.

This hasn’t seemed to be very problematic, since he adjusted so well for a guy with such little experience. But as seen lately, that extra few minutes of floor time can go a long way in Achiuwa’s short term and long term success.

Taking a look at Achiuwa’s basketball past, in both high school and college, he’s never been in a position to be effective in short spurts, since he’s been a high level starter in his recent past. He has always been in the Adebayo role, where he can just flow with the pace of the game, which is when he truly excels. He’s a high energy guy who can read the pacing of the game perfectly, but it’s a little less useful without fans.

From a coaching perspective, there aren’t many options involving an increased role, other than siding him next to Adebayo. It was seen in a very short spurt before, but as Adebayo continues to expand his range and improve his jumper, that option becomes more and more viable.

The point is that Achiuwa’s current role may be looked at as trying to “simplify,” but for him it may be the complete opposite. There’s a certain trust level with him compared to other guys, since he’s not an out of control young player who doesn’t know his role.

He actually knows his role better than most, but he seems ready to be pushed in the direction of a new role, not to complicate, but for him to thrive.

Miami’s Biggest Upcoming Adjustment Involves Precious Achiuwa

I’ve spent a lot of time diving into Precious Achiuwa’s games this season, since his individual play has been so outstanding in these circumstances.

For one, coming into the NBA after a long layoff, and being thrown right into the rotation on a team that just made the finals says enough about him as a player. The reason he was granted this role is because he was needed as a relief when Bam Adebayo exited the floor.

But he’s much more than that now.

The Miami Heat just lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, and it wouldn’t have been close if Precious Achiuwa didn’t get inserted to end the third quarter and begin the fourth quarter.

As seen there, his offensive presence was what gave Miami the spark they needed, but his involvement on each and every play is the part that truly stands out.

Instead of diving into his individual play yet again, it’s time to discuss the next step, since it seems like it’s coming real soon.

As mentioned previously, he’s no longer the rookie who can come in for their centerpiece Bam Adebayo for small stretches. He’s now the guy they need on the floor to win games. The issue is that Coach Spoelstra does not want to go the route of playing Bam and Precious together, and since there are so many players out, Bam got an even larger increase in minutes. And subsequently, that meant Precious’ minutes got decreased.

Now, I’m not saying it’s as simple as just throwing them both in the game together all the time, since there are still question marks about the offensive stance. But when Miami’s playing in games with 5 bench players that include Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, KZ Okpala, Udonis Haslem, and Precious Achiuwa, it seems to be the time to try things like that for decent stretches.

Miami just getting fully healthy is the number one priority right now, but what will Achiuwa’s role be when that occurs? Will it be a situational spark player? Well, that could be what he is, but it seems like he is trending in the direction of being more than just a spark.

The other intriguing part about him is his growing offensive connection with Tyler Herro. In the second half against the Clippers, the Herro-Achiuwa pick and roll was the only efficient offensive set Miami ran. This is very promising for Miami’s future, if these two are playing at this level together in just a few games.

But it’s no longer about looking at things as “promising” or for the “future.” The Heat are now in need for immediate impact, especially since there is uncertainty about who will even play on a nightly basis.

And the reason I have a feeling that is coming for Precious Achiuwa is because there’s a certain trust level there. This team notices that Precious consistently gives them the same exact thing every night. And as much as Coach Spo discussed “simplifying” the game for Precious, it seems like Precious will be pushed for an early leap only 18 games into his NBA career, which says a lot about him as a player.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Loss to Denver

The Miami Heat drop yet another game tonight, this time to the Denver Nuggets. The Heat were without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Goran Dragic tonight, which gives you a sense of the way this game went. Miami will be playing tomorrow night as well on a back to back, against a depleted Los Angeles Clippers team, so it’ll be necessary to get a  win. Anyway, here are five takeaways…

#1: Well, the issues were apparent tonight, but it starts with shot making.

It’s hard to start in one certain area when diving into Miami’s performance tonight, but the most obvious issue was just plainly shot making. If Miami wanted a chance in this game, while being shorthanded once again, the role players were needed to hit open shots. And well, that didn’t happen. Three point shooting was a huge issue throughout, which is exactly what occurred in the last game against Brooklyn. They shot 19% from three in the first half, which was not that high for a good portion of the half. Thirty-three points in a half is clearly problematic, even without some key players. Some guys inability to step up right now with players out is an eye opener for the long term vision for some player’s roles.

#2: A glimpse of Bam Adebayo and Precious Achiuwa minutes.

The one positive thing from the night is that we got the first glimpse of Bam Adebayo and Precious Achiuwa together. The reason it has been looked upon so much is because it’s the hopeful future of this team, and people want assurance about that plan moving forward. The reason the fit was in question before was because of the offensive spacing that held some question marks. But with Bam Adebayo continuing to expand his range, it makes more and more sense right now. The only reason it was gone to in this game is because of their lackluster play, and Coach Spo wanted a spark. They actually played good defensively for that small stretch, but it’s hard to truly evaluate it in a game where nothing is being generated on either end of the floor.

#3: Duncan Robinson struggles continue.

I don’t think many people are used to Duncan Robinson struggling shooting the ball for three games in a row. And it’s not just about constant doubles or overplaying, since he seems to be getting good looks throughout, he just can’t capitalize. Now, as I’ve discussed before, Jimmy Butler holds major value over the success of Duncan, but I feel it’s much more than lineups. All shooters have slumps, and it begins with the mental toughness to overcome it by continuing to have the confidence to shoot the basketball. He has gotten the ball up quite a lot through this stretch, but nothing is being generated. For a lot of players, getting to the basket or finding other ways to score gets players out of a slump, but sprinting around the perimeter seems to be the only source of offense right now for him.

#4: Andre Iguodala’s on court leadership has been huge, but his surprising offense as well.

Andre Iguodala has been known to do everything for this Miami Heat second unit for some time. Well, except shoot the ball consistently. But that’s actually been a pretty positive element of his game lately, especially tonight. He hit some much needed shots when Miami needed a bucket, which proves his ability to run lineups while Jimmy Butler gets rest in the future. His ability to lock somebody up on defense, while having the quickness to rotate defensively has been huge for this team. With the lack of veteran leadership in the rotation right now, he was very important to take control. Not only is it great to see from him right now, but it’s great to know what Miami has moving closer to the end of the season.

#5: No Jimmy Butler, No Tyler Herro, No Goran Dragic, No excuse. But there’s a necessary realistic element.

The first instinct after watching this game is clearly a bit of panic for many, but things need to be noted without it being labeled as an excuse. For starters, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro were still out tonight, and Goran Dragic got thrown into that group as well. Every single player combination has been seen over the last few weeks with the constant rotation of players interchanging in and out of the lineup. That opinion and takeaway can be used without being called an excuse, since it’s just the reality of their current situation. Everything that could happen to a team this season, has happened, and even if they’re not play to the standard many are used to, it’s hard to generate anything in a basketball game when you don’t know who is on your team every single night. Miami’s schedule begins to ease up starting now, but will Miami’s health situations begin to ease up? Well, that’s the big question, and nobody has that answer since things are changing every single moment.

5 Takeaways from Miami’s Loss to Brooklyn

The Miami Heat played the Brooklyn Nets once again on Monday night in yet another thriller, but came away with the same result. Miami showed the heart that they continue to put on display on a nightly basis, but not having their closer Jimmy Butler causes this similar result. Anyway, here are five takeaways…

#1: Bam Adebayo picks up where he left off.

After Bam Adebayo’s 41 point night on Saturday night, it didn’t seem possible for him to continue that unique shooting display. And well, he came out to begin the game shooting that same exact mid-range jumper. I think it was pretty clear that it wasn’t a fluke performance, since it’s been obvious that it was in his offensive package all along. It just came down to him getting the green light, and he will have that moving forward for good. The reason these games have been so impressive is because he’s currently the number one option with guys missing, so he’s clearly at the top of the scouting report. And for him to overlook that and get to his spots makes this offensive showing even more promising.

#2: Three-Point shooting is not always the way.

Three point shooting has been Miami’s sweet spot lately, especially this past season, but there are times when they aren’t falling, and dribble penetration is necessary. Miami shot 21% from three in the first half, while shooting 67% on 2 point attempts. And yet, unnecessary triples continued to get shot up instead of attacking the basket. Of course with the current personnel, shooting seems to be the only way to victory. But the way to beat a poor defensive Brooklyn Nets team is to attack their weaknesses. Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic are probably the only two who can do that consistently, which is why the non-Goran and Bam minutes were some of the choppiest minutes in the game. The three point shot is essential when it’s dropping for Miami, but two point field goals must be the area they utilize more, which will happen when Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro return.

#3: Precious Achiuwa’s early offensive presence kept Miami going.

As I mentioned previously, when Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo are on the sideline at the same time, it’s hard for Miami to survive those minutes. Well, unless Precious Achiuwa steps up his offensive role. Andre Iguodala continued to breakdown Brooklyn’s defense in an early stretch, leading to 2 consecutive Precious dunks. Achiuwa giving Miami quality minutes gave Bam the ability to take a breather on the sideline, which was much needed in this type of game. The Precious Achiuwa minutes are clearly different than many are used to, and that’s because he isn’t currently sharing the floor with Bam. And with Miami shorthanded, Bam Adebayo’s minutes have taken an even bigger jump. Precious will get his normal role back once Miami gets their normal team back, but for now, adjustments were necessary and he’s done a pretty great job in that spot.

#4: KZ Okpala making his presence defensively seen.

KZ Okpala got the start tonight once again, and his defensive impact was definitely seen by many. For one, from an individual standpoint, being able to step right into a game without much NBA level playing time to guard three of the league’s most prolific scorers is impressive alone. But the part that truly stood out was his minutes next to Bam Adebayo. The confidence in one another to switch off of every single screen that came their way makes opposing players uncomfortable. But we know Bam is capable of wrecking havoc out on the perimeter, but seeing KZ Okpala step right up to the plate without hesitation is very promising for his future. His catch and shoot abilities have not looked too bad as well, but once he rounds out the rest of his offensive role with this Heat team, he will receive his regular and sustainable role.

#5: Andre Iguodala doing the small things to make an impact.

There’s always a certain part of the second half where veterans are needed to calm players down. And well, with no Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala stepped up as that guy once again. He utilized his passing abilities, rebounded the ball well, and most importantly, made necessary defensive plays that led to transition baskets. Andre will never be the guy that the team leans on for a needed bucket, but he will make the plays that give the team an opportunity at a bucket. As known from his past, he is just a winner, and with that comes a high IQ for the game of basketball. Watching him dissect a defense for easy baskets, or reading the game to find the hot hand at the moment is a very impressive skill.

Bam and Duncan DHO Success to Precious and Tyler PnR Success

The Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo dribble hand-off combination has been known to be one of the best in the entire NBA.

The reason it has so much success is because it emphasizes each player’s biggest strength. Duncan Robinson shooting on the move with defenders flying high on him, and Bam Adebayo setting hard screens with the ability to put the ball on the floor when he catches on the roll.

There’s a reason Miami leads the league in field goal percentage when the roller gets the ball at 73% this season, and it’s because of the gravity of this duo.

But is there a new duo looking to do something similar?

The answer is yes. Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa’s unique pick and roll abilities have been one of the real bright spots to start the season.

As discussed with Duncan and Bam, it allows their biggest strengths to be utilized, and the same goes for Tyler and Precious.

Tyler can clearly score at all three levels, which makes for a good start to an efficient pick and roll. As seen above, there’s an opportunity for a pull-up three at all times, but that isn’t what makes this duo special.

Herro’s comfort level once he steps inside the three point line has been on display this far into the season. Once he gets the defender behind him, and gets into a 2 on 1 opportunity, it usually ends up in a score.

But why is that exactly?

For one, Tyler Herro’s tough in that mid-range area is great, which allows him to stop on a dime for a pull-up, go right up with a floater, or lay it up right at the rim.

The other reason is that Precious Achiuwa’s offensive activity around the rim has been remarkable. The ability to catch the lob with no problem, and can adjust when the ball comes his way as well.

I’m not sure if those off-season workouts allowed these two to have an immediate on-court connection, or their unique skill-sets just automatically aligned.

Either way, Miami has something with these two in the pick and roll offensive sets. Erik Spoelstra has been mentioning finding their identity since the start of the season, and I believe the best way to do that is placing players in spots that they’re most likely to thrive.

Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo’s ability to read each other’s game when running dribble hand-offs is one of the small parts that doesn’t get discussed. And since this Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa duo is only a few games in, it will continue to evolve. But seeing it to this extent this early in the season truly is promising.

These two unique offensive sets will create major headaches for opposing defenses, especially if all four share the floor together. But that doesn’t appear to happen anytime soon due to “simplifying” Precious’ game as much as possible.

But these flashes just reassure that this is the long term goal with this team. Not only Bam Adebayo and Precious Achiuwa wrecking havoc on the defensive end, but each having the ability to run individual sets that each continue to thrive in.

Will The Bam Adebayo-Precious Achiuwa Duo Be Seen?

The two guys that many fans have been waiting to get a look at on the floor together is Miami’s centerpiece, Bam Adebayo, and the rookie, Precious Achiuwa.

They have similar games, due to their high energy and versatility on the defensive end, which makes many people wonder about them on the court at the same time.

Erik Spoelstra was asked about it, and said, “Defensively they can wreck a lot of havoc just with their size and quickness and physicality. We’re just trying to simplify as much as possible with Precious.”

And that last part tells you why they haven’t been seen together.

One of Precious Achiuwa’s biggest staples this far into the season is that he plays his exact role no matter who he is facing, and doesn’t get rattled or flustered.

And the coaching staff seems to want to keep it that way. “Simplifying” his game has a lot to do with allowing Precious to do what he does best, without changing anything within his role or play-style.

Although Erik Spoelstra hinted at these two not being seen much together as of right now, he mentioned possibly utilizing it once in a while.

It’s pretty clear that Erik Spoelstra always keeps something in his pocket that he can use when most needed, and this may be his card this season.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t play them together in all 72 games, then throws them out there in the first round of the postseason.

And this year’s unplayable card is much more deadly than a 2-3 zone that he kept in his pocket last year. This is something that seems like the perfect fix when Miami needs a defensive boost, and it’s a low risk due to both players being so under control.

Miami knows they have something with each of these players individually, but the question becomes as a duo. And I believe it has much more to do with timing, than it does about simplifying.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Victory Over Pistons

The Miami Heat faced off against the Detroit Pistons once again, and came away with a much needed win. They struggled again early, but battled back without Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler once again. Anyway, here are five takeaways…

#1: Precious Achiuwa the energizer, Precious Achiuwa the leader.

The player that stood out from the moment he checked in tonight was rookie Precious Achiuwa. It seems as if I discuss him in every one of these takeaway pieces, and that’s because he stands out in a certain area every night. Tonight, he showed his leadership abilities, while only being 11 games into his NBA career. When Miami began to trail big time early in the first quarter, Precious shared the floor with Kendrick Nunn, Gabe Vincent, and Moe Harkless, and Achiuwa seemed to become the voice on the floor. Communicating after plays to get the team energized, and he did just that. In both of Miami’s first half runs, Precious was on the floor, and it wasn’t a coincidence. He’s another one of those high impact players that Miami loves, and he continues to improve in all areas of his game.

#2: Kendrick Nunn gives quality offensive minutes.

Well, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Avery Bradley being out means major openings at the guard position. And even though many aren’t high on Kendrick Nunn at the moment, Coach Erik Spoelstra shows to have the utmost confidence. Kendrick did exactly what was needed from him, which was to score the basketball. He looked to have confidence in his jump-shot, and it’s great to see him showing these flashes. Now, he still may not look like rookie Kendrick Nunn, but it surely was a step up from his production to begin the year. Miami needed offensively sounded players to step up tonight without their primary scorers, and he played his role.

#3: Rebounding continues to look like the biggest Miami issue.

I’ve gone through a bunch of Miami’s issues including turnovers, lack of shot attempts, and others, but none stand out like the lack of rebounding. Obviously Detroit is a big team, but this is an ongoing thing that occurs nightly. The Pistons continued to dominate the offensive boards, which once again translates to more shot attempts. If Miami could’ve cut those offensive rebounds in half, they would’ve controlled the game with ease, but clearly that’s not the case. As many people harp on different additions that can be made to this team, a guy that can be plugged in the front-court looks to be the team’s biggest need. Many times throughout the game, Bam is the sole big on the floor, and when he flies out to the perimeter on a close-out, it leads to an easy put-back. He needs help on the glass, and it doesn’t look to be on the roster, unless Spo decides to pair him up with Precious Achiuwa.

#4: Duncan Robinson shoots Miami through this game.

Duncan Robinson looked like the same old Duncan Robinson, but in a game where Miami trailed for most of it, it’s necessary to highlight it. Miami needed a source of offense with Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro out, and Duncan gave them a huge boost after connecting on the usual dribble hand-off threes. Although his stats don’t scream off the stat sheet tremendously, it had more to do with the timing of his scores. He was the reason for Miami’s two big offensive runs in the first half. The reason he is the biggest threat when Miami begins to get momentum on a run is because he’s much better in a quick flow. When Miami begins to run and build a rhythm, Duncan becomes more and more effective as a scorer.

#5: Bam Adebayo’s scoring aggressiveness seems to come out with a Miami lead.

The big discussion throughout tonight’s game with Bam Adebayo was about him taking initiative. When Miami needed a burst of offense when trailing, he continued to facilitate and get others going. There were many moments throughout where Bam looked to have clear opportunities to try and score, but decided to defer. But once Miami got a decent lead in the second half, his offense began to be seen. Now, that could be a type of confidence that he can play free with the ball in his hands due to the game situation, but it clearly worked. This starts to make Heat fans wonder why this isn’t seen more often. He began to hit the mid-range jumper consistently, but as I’ve mentioned many times, I believe it’s more important to see him put the ball on the floor and attack.

A Breakdown of Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa

Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa have been the bright spots of this Heat team right now, since half the team has been away due to Covid protocols. This was a time where possible leaps may have begun to be made, since Tyler and Precious had a lot more weight on their shoulders due to the increased roles.

But what are the exact areas that they’ve made strides this week?

Tyler Herro:

– Backboard Usage Around the Rim

Tyler Herro has been very efficient around the rim this season, and utilizing the backboard has been one of the main reasons for that. It’s something Goran Dragic uses a lot, and rightfully so, since it’s a veteran move. And by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Goran was the one who got Tyler to do it. Either way, it’s an incredible attribute to have at his age. His touch around the basket continues to be impressive, and that’s a hard thing for defenses to guard consistently.

– Finding Dead Spots

Tyler Herro’s increased role these past two games has allowed him to shine in certain areas. Since he’s had the ball in his hands frequently in the pick and roll, his ability to find dead spots have been apparent. Tyler has mentioned his comfort level when facing a drop coverage, and that is clear right here. He can navigate the mid-range area, which is where he is at his best.

– Natural Change of Speed

Tyler’s change of direction has been a surprising part of his game this far. As seen above, he can make quick adjustments when running at full speed. He turned his hips slightly to the right to freeze the defender, then exploded left for an easy bucket. He’s also shown his quick first step when in isolation. Defenses must have seen a lot of abrupt step-backs in film, which allows Tyler to explode off the dribble frequently this season.

– Decisive Play-Making

Now, this has been one of the most fun parts of Tyler Herro’s game this year. When people discuss Tyler as a play-maker, it’s not out on the perimeter setting up the offense. It’s actually when he is in full motion making instinctive decisions, which is why he’s been great with the lob pass. As seen in the first clip, Tyler comes off of a curl which creates a 2 on 1, which is when he is at his best. And his lob pass ability allowed a pass fake into an open layup. In the second clip, Joel Embiid stepped up which allowed an easy lob for a dunk.

Precious Achiwua:

– Utilizing an Escape Dribble

One of the things Precious Achiuwa didn’t do at the beginning of the season was put the ball on the floor. He found himself getting stuck sometimes since everybody knew he was swinging it or handing it off, while Bam has the ability to take others off the dribble. But after Precious got an increased role, he found himself becoming more comfortable in his skill-set. Here, he notices the crowd forming in the corner, and utilizes an escape dribble to the free throw line. And honestly, that’s more impressive than the jumper, which is also promising moving forward.

– Timing on the Boards

When people describe Precious’ rebounding ability, it usually starts with energy. But actually timing seems to be his biggest strength on the boards. As seen above, he doesn’t have any type of positioning on the taller Joel Embiid, but times it perfectly to go up and grab it, which then turned into a contested score at the basket. Timing has been seen a lot these last two games against Philadelphia, which is why he continues to get easy baskets off of tip ins.

– Patience Under the Rim

Most young bigs who have high energy instinctively go back up with the ball right away once they get it. But Precious has shown an immense amount of patience in the paint. As seen there, he showcases his athleticism to go up and grab the ball, then re-adjusts under the rim. He then gives Joel Embiid a slight pump-fake to get him up into the air, and immediately rises for a layup. That has a lot to do with reading a situation, which Achiuwa has been great with as well.

– Control at Full Speed

Now, this play was one of Precious Achiuwa’s most impressive or flashy plays he has had this far, but the control he portrayed was not the first time. He was running full speed down the floor, per usual, and had to slow down for an impressive euro-step. His control has been seen on the defensive end as well, since he will be running full speed for a block and immediately stop to contest without fouling. Having that amount of control 10 games into his NBA career is a great sign.