Here were my initial five takeaways while watching Heat-Lakers tonight:
#1: Bam Adebayo with a ‘do it all’ first half.
11 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists is quite the first half stat-line when purely looking at stats, but his impact is what popped tonight (per usual). For starters, he was extremely aggressive moving downhill, while also stretching things out to the 3 early on. His passing stuck out to me which I’ll get into in a minute, but the defense continues to be an all over the place affair. Drop, switching, zone. The Lakers kept running into him, including him racking up some blocks which seems to be the only thing voters look for. Rotating weak-side at the rim or simply blocking AD at his release point, his two-way impact is undeniable.
#: The Heat’s core 3 guys’ passing proving to be the functional door for the offense.
Bam Adebayo gets the ball on the elbow. Josh Richardson pins down for Duncan Robinson and slips, as Duncan shortly after utilizes a delayed cut. Bam hits him in stride. Copy that formula and apply it to Tyler Herro or any guard on this roster, and that’s how Bam was accumulating most of his first half assists. As for Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, an area that has hindered the offense at times this season is only using one side of the court. Ball sticks, defense pinches, and things are tonight. Some things I saw early tonight was Herro and Butler prioritizing the skip. Butler had a rare over-head one to Jaquez weak-side who buried it, and Herro did the same to Robinson late in the clock who side stepped for three. Lack of “point guards” mean those guys are needed in that department.
Duncan Robinson’s confidence carrying over.
Watching Duncan Robinson as of late, it’s clear the guy is extremely comfortable. Timely back-cuts, under the radar passing following over-reaction, and well, the shooting. When I asked Jimmy Butler about those outer areas of Robinson’s game, he says being surprised would only equal “untrained eyes.” He’s a complete basketball player, which was amplified on a first half iso that included a stutter and attack for a layup. But as much as it’s fun to note those developments, the guy is still shooting at a high level. More PnR stuff than early years, and his 3 point percentage is being carried by the pull-up stuff. He’s been key to this team’s offense.
#4: The Heat have found their starting four.
As I mentioned a lot before the season, it made the most sense for Haywood Highsmith to eventually find his way into that starting 4 spot. I figured it would take them until around December to get to it, but a rough start moved the chains quicker than expected. And well, it seems like the perfect fit. They wanted somebody that is 3 and D, and man does it seem like he’s at the high end of that. The shooting is a legit skill for him with the overall consistency we’ve seen, but he doesn’t demand many touches at all while always seeming to be in the right spot. Plus just watching him on defense tonight, I thought he would see more time on LeBron, but his work around screens on the Lakers guard room was huge. That front-court should not shift.
#5: Jaime Jaquez won’t be going anywhere when Caleb Martin returns.
When Jaime Jaquez Jr got drafted, I asked him who he was looking forward to playing against most. “LeBron.” Not only was he playing against him, he guarded him in the majority of his minutes. Got a big steal on one of his early drives, and continues to really hold his own on isolation possessions against star players. Fast forward to the 4th quarter, the Heat were searching for offense before the Jimmy Butler return, Jaquez went on a run of his own. Drives down the lane against the smaller defender, spins inside, and finds the exact angle for the layup. Bam gets the steal on other end, hits Jaquez on the break, sends a shot fake then finishes. Very measured stuff.