Tag Archive for: Tyler Herro

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Celtics

The Miami Heat pull off an incredible comeback on the Boston Celtics behind a major Bam Adebayo night.

Haywood Highsmith triggered it all with his high level two way play.

Some takeaways…

#1: The Heat’s defensive start: Jayson Tatum cooking and role players countering.

My question to begin this game was how they would treat Jayson Tatum. Would it look like the game against Luka Doncic and the Mavs? Well, not really. The Heat were allowing him to operate one-on-one on switches pretty freely, as he went at both Tyler Herro and Max Strus consistently to kick off the game. He kept getting two feet in the lane for buckets, but then the Heat shifted. They began getting into their blitzing bag which I compare to the Doncic plan, but the issue is Jimmy Butler is a big piece of the two on the ball game-plan. Tatum would throw over a wild skip pass or simple pocket pass, as the back-line defenders simply lacked size. It opened up runways leading into over-help. The defensive stuff was a bit all over the place to start against that Tatum constant.

#2: Max Strus starts things off with 3 early triples, but then…

To kick things off, there were good signs in the Max Strus shooting department. He got some good looks early off a ton of slip screens, as they were spamming specific off-ball actions to get him free, leading to those three first quarter triples. All were assisted by Kyle Lowry, showing that it was similar sets. Either way, the others tailed off quickly. Taking away Strus’ start, the rest of the group was shooting 21% from beyond the arc in that first half. Lowry, Herro, and Oladipo were 0 for 11 from deep. A simple recap: yikes. A deeper recap: every shot just kept coming up short, which is odd since the other team was the one playing on the back-end of a back to back. This isn’t a bad stretch of shooting at this point. It’s who they are, and it’s time to adjust in some different areas.

#3: Free throw marathon, but something stuck out in the second quarter for the Heat.

With over seven minutes to go in the second quarter, the Miami Heat were in the bonus. There were a total of 23 fouls and 30 free throw attempts in the first 24 minutes of basketball, clearly showing the theme of this game to start. With that said regarding the Heat’s long period of being in the bonus, one thing should’ve been clear for the offensive structure: attack the rim. If Jimmy Butler was playing, he would’ve been having a field day for the next portion of time, but obviously he was out. From that point, Miami shot 6 straight threes over the next few minutes, all missing. For further context, they missed 14 of their last 16 shot attempts prior to the half. When an opportunity presents itself to potentially get some easy ones, while the outside shooting is going in the opposite direction, you should definitely try and capitalize. That’s what ultimately led to the Celtics branching out to an 8 point lead at half. Small thing, but crucial.

#4: Well, Bam Adebayo found his rhythm.

After an uneven start for Bam Adebayo as well, he found it in the third. He may have been the only one to find it in the third actually. They got him to his spots, which seemed like the only reasonable thing to do. Tyler Herro was extremely off on the offensive end, Kyle Lowry couldn’t hit a triple, and it took Victor Oladipo until the final minutes of the third to find his shot for a moment. As for Bam, they just kept feeding him on that short roll. Just let him catch at that dotted line or the elbow, and live with that result. That result was a positive one for a good bit, as he soared to 21 points through the first 3 quarters, which felt like an uphill climb after the way he came out. Bam Adebayo has been this team’s rock when it comes to consistency, which is a very good sign for him. And well, a worse sign for others.

#5: Late game recap: Haywood Highsmith sparks, Bam Adebayo dominates.

Haywood Highsmith deserves a ton of individual credit tonight. At the end of the third, I said he was their second best player tonight. Then he proved that to another degree with 3 triples in the first 6 minutes of the fourth. He set the tone throughout defensively, possibly being his best all-around game. Then Bam capitalized on the energy with back to back buckets at the rim. Tie game at 87 a piece. Bam hits another short roll jumper to give Miami a 2 point edge, before Herro flows into a rhythm three to extend the lead to 5. He hit the biggest one of the night up to that point. Tatum answers shortly after with an and-1 down the middle of the lane, cutting it back to a two point game. Heat walk back down the floor into a Herro-Bam PnR, Herro lobs it up, and Bam almost catalogs a nice poster barring the foul call. He follows that up a bit later with an insane swat at the rim, showing it all off. Yet, Grant Williams answers for the tie. Biggest play of the game, the Celtics blitz Herro, he finds Bam, and he turns into another big time jumper. 30 burger. Heat blitz Tatum back into a turnover. Game-time.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Pelicans

The Heat faced off against the New Orleans Pelicans once again, and it definitely wasn’t as smooth as the first match-up.

In the mud offense, defensive spike, and a late Lowry scoring run.

But here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Well, that was some ugly first half offense.

There’s a tough watch when it comes to half-court offense in the NBA, and then there’s the first 24 minutes of Heat-Pelicans. If it wasn’t for a hot defensive stretch for the Heat, that I will dive into heavily next, They would’ve been in the mid 30’s through two full quarters. Everything is a grind when it comes to this team’s slow-paced approach. Teams try to eliminate the top players: Butler sees mid-post doubles, Bam sees extra help on the role, Herro sees great defenders with the occasional blitz. Teams want Lowry/Martin types to obtain heavy usage. We can continue to look at the shooting or certain elements, but there are simply too many moments I sit back and say ‘what are they trying to accomplish on that end right now.’ Maybe a good chunk of that is the need for extra talent, but it looking that ugly when healthy can’t be the case by any means.

#2: It all starts with the defense.

Bam Adebayo switches, Orlando Robinson blitzes. Early in this game, the defensive coverages weren’t much flashier than the offense since it was getting pretty bland. Good players like CJ McCollum can see right through that. Then the final 2 minutes of the second quarter hit. Here were the last 5 defensive possessions of the quarter: Kyle Lowry hits the weak-side passing lane for the steal, Jimmy Butler doubles high and gets a hand on the ball for a steal, Victor Oladipo blitzes and rips the ball away and onto the break, Heat force a turnover off good rotations due to a travel, and finally, Butler doubles at the nail for yet another steal (as Lowry nails a non-counting full court shot). This half-court offense is atrocious at the moment, so the defense holds all the wait. If they can force turnovers and get easy baskets over a stretch, that’s their outlet. Plus, it’s an eventual energy boost to the offense on the other end.

#3: A continued look at the Jimmy Butler usage.

Jimmy Butler’s first field goal attempt came with 3 minutes to go in the first quarter, and it was on an open break. As I discussed after that Dallas game, the blueprint to defending Butler and the Heat was being laid out on national TV. And well, it’s clearly a new add to teams’ scouting reports. Off every mid-post catch, the Pelicans were sending that double to Butler. He loves playing with his back to the basket to eventually attack, plus it’s one of their biggest triggers in the half-court. Double, swing, swing. Now it’s a late shot clock heave. But aside from the focus on the actual double teams, his usage has been off as of late. A lot of screening and rolling, to simply make up for the fact his on-ball stuff on the perimeter is being taken away. It’s good to find alternatives, but the ball needs to be in your best player’s hands a good bit, especially when struggling in the half-court like they did to start. That’s exactly what they did more of in the third quarter, but still something to monitor.

#4: Tyler Herro finding his rhythm.

It has been no secret that Tyler Herro has been having some three-point trouble as of late. With that, he’s found his rhythm in these two Pelicans games by finding his spots inside the arc. Floaters, pull-ups, paint touches. That’s where he was generating most of his points to begin this game, while every three-pointer that drops feels like a sigh of relief for him on the floor. But there was something else that happened that was cool to see. Herro being guarded by McCollum, screaming at Butler on a certain possession to play for the switch. Butler turns back toward Herro to listen, gives him the ball, and screens. They get the switch and Herro feeds him, leading into a foul at the rim. This offense needs a lot, but communication is a decent start. Take any advantage you can find.

#5: Late game lay-out…

With under five minutes to go, we got a continuation of the last topic, as Herro knocks down a tough corner three to give Miami some more life on that end. After a Butler pump-fake and forced whistle, the Heat found themselves up 86-84. Adebayo blitzes McCollum on one end to force the turnover, into forcing a switch on him on the other end. Lowry feeds him, and he lays it in. 88-84. With under four minutes to go, I don’t have any answer to how in the world they were flirting with 90 after the disastrous first half offense. But well, those Bam type blitzes is what created buckets in this one. An eventual Lowry step back wing three pushed the lead to 91-86, flashing a moment we haven’t seen in some time. Pelicans answer, but so does Lowry. A pump-fake, up and under move gets him the bank shot in the lane. But then, McCollum comes right back with a catch and shoot three. This exact dialogue continued. Lowry scored 9 straight points, but the Pelicans kept responding. Heat up 98-96, Pelicans had a shot. Heat double, they feed down low to Nance, and it goes through his hands with Oladipo coming up with it. He went 1 of 2 from the line, going up 98-96, as the Heat force a 5 second violation on the potential game tying inbound. Heat counter with their own inbound trouble, using two timeouts and a forced jump-ball, giving the Pelicans another chance. McCollum misses the 3, Heat escape.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Mavs

The Heat’s nationally televised Friday night matchup against the Dallas Mavericks went…just as you would expect.

The offense was jammed, and Luka Doncic was having his way. The two elements that simply can’t occur.

Plus, the way to defend Miami was put right on display. Some takeaways….

#1: Dealing with Luka Doncic…

When it comes to individual scouting, there are not many players tougher than Luka Doncic. Single coverage is never going to be a possibility, as the ultimate goal is to consistently get the ball out of his hands. The Heat started in drop coverage on Doncic, as Caleb Martin was matched up to chase. On guard screens, if he went at the Tyler Herro matchup, somebody like Martin or Jimmy Butler would quickly double Doncic to get the ball out of his hands. The issue with that: the Mavericks were knocking down their open triples. Heat mixed in some zone shortly after, which Doncic looked just as comfortable with. He was just play-making right over that initial line of defense to feed it to that middle zone. The switching was the final stage among the three coverages, as Doncic and Bam each got their fair share of wins, which is as great of a matchup as you can form. Either way, the point is that Doncic can figure things out so quickly and efficiently, as seen in that first half.

#2: Victor Oladipo taking over the half-court offense early on.

As much as I talk about the Heat dealing with Doncic, the real grind for them early on was on the offensive end. Bam Adebayo had a rough start due to the constant collapsing of the Mavericks defense, and Jimmy Butler kept seeing two defenders on the catch. So, that means a lot of focus on the guards. Victor Oladipo took the reigns early on, as he kept getting two feet in the paint following that initial screen. He flowed into two immediate floaters in the lane, followed by a right flowing hook shot off the glass. He was the one guy that looked comfortable inside the arc. He capitalized his first half excellence with a transition catch and shoot three on the left wing, putting Miami in a decent position with the starters returning. As I’ve talked about a ton after games, he’s been a bright spot. Saving the offense multiple times would not have been on my checklist before the All-Star break. Yet he keeps coming through.

#3: A playoff reversal? Butler doubles and Herro inside the arc…

As I stay in that first half theme, other than Oladipo coming through for their half-court offense, Tyler Herro also picked up where he left off. He began finding his spots on his pull-ups right around the elbow, as his floaters continue to be a comfort spot. As I mentioned before with Jimmy Butler, the Mavs were doubling him off the catch often in that mid-range area. That means the extra pass is made, trying to find the open three-point shooter. Similar to the Mavs plan, yet they were actually converting from deep, knocking down 11 first half triples to the Heat’s 2. Butler seeing doubles and Herro finding a rhythm inside? It’s almost a reversal topic from a few playoff series the previous season. Herro’s play tailed off in the third quarter with a real rough stretch on both ends, but that wasn’t anything coverage related. Just interesting to note the different ways teams elect to defend the Heat’s top guys. Lastly let me add, the Mavs have usually given Butler this exact look to throw size at him and block off the rim, so this is nothing new.

#4: The three point shooting dilemma.

The Heat were the league’s number one three point shooting team in the NBA a year ago. Even aside from the high percentage shooting, the entire offensive base was predicated on simply generating looks from deep, ultimately opening up the interior for their top two guys. So far this season, they haven’t been as lucky to have that blueprint, they’ve had to work in reverse. Try to grind out paint point after paint point to eventually get some three-point looks that benefit this squad. Through the first three quarters tonight, the Heat only had 3 made triples, but more importantly, they only got up 14 of them. Erik Spoelstra’s blueprint has consistently been trying to get up 40, but if we can be completely honest, I don’t know if that’s the best thing at the moment. But when looking at a game like tonight: Butler is being doubled on every tough and Bam wasn’t his consistent self, you can’t combine those two elements with more rough outside shooting. The defense is a different conversation, but that’s pretty much the game.

#5: So, let’s talk trade deadline.

I finished the last takeaways piece asking a simple question after a dominant win against an inferior squad: could this build momentum? Well, we got our answer rather quickly. This next span would be the real measuring stick for this squad against better talent, but no matter the result, one thing should be constant: the trade deadline must be active. Instead of hammering home the same trade targets discussed over and over, a night like this gives some perspective to the build needed in their lineup. Watching Martin chase around Doncic to begin this game, it’s clear they’re missing that physical four that can match up with versatile types such as Doncic. But more importantly, they don’t need a strict defender. They seriously need some shooting. The success of a contender cannot be determined by the shooting numbers of their role players. And right now, that’s not looking too promising. A 3 and D front-court partner would be extremely useful right about now, while bringing in an extra role player or two on the wings/back-up big position. The next few weeks will be all about those possibilities.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Pelicans

The Miami Heat were looking to bounce back from their rough performance against the Hawks on Monday, and did just that, coming out scorching from start to finish in New Orleans.

They got a little bit from everybody all the way down the nine man rotation, as Bam Adebayo led the way.

Some takeaways from this high level performance….

#1: The Heat’s opening possessions telling the whole story.

Before this game, I said the game-plan I would go with would begin and end with the Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo PnR. Against a team in drop with two drop killers, that could open up the rest of the offense. Herro got into his floater twice in the first few minutes, as Jonas Valanciunas sat right under the rim. The very next possession following that second floater, the Heat found themselves running a PnR at a different coverage. He was now defending at the level, and when they are forcing adjustments this early, that’s when they have you. Herro reads it, leads a bounce pass in the pocket to Bam who lays it in. Fast forward to the next play, Valanciunas was right back under the rim, so Herro flowed right into a mid-range pull-up that dropped. In the opening minutes, Adebayo had 8 points and Herro had 5 assists. The blueprint against teams like this as I said before the game: that Herro-Bam two-man combo.

#2: The first half: the Heat simply blazing in all areas.

Going down the checklist of things you wanted to see, the first half was marking every area for the Heat. Kyle Lowry comes out with high energy, pushing pace, and getting the team transition buckets. Check. Going back to the previous point, Adebayo and Herro doing their drop in that in-between game to really set the tone. Check. The bench scores 28 points in the first half, with everybody contributing. Check. And well, the team shot 72% on twos in the first 24 minutes, pretty much getting wherever they wanted off initial and secondary attacks. Major check. In all honesty, the easy way to describe it was ‘one of those nights’ since the team just couldn’t miss on many shots in their overall profile. But the process stood out to me. There was diversity, there were paint touches into kick-outs, and they followed the base of their half-court game. That was the more promising part.

#3: Let me take another moment for Gabe Vincent.

Gabe Vincent knocked down 3 triples in the opening quarter, yet that’s no surprise as of late since he keeps breaking his own career high every night. But when zooming in a bit more on him coming back into form following the injury stuff, the one thing he displayed in this game is the real component to keep eyeing. Spot-up shooting. He’s been on an uphill climb when it comes to that spot-up three point percentage this season, but it’s been trending up as of late. Not only is that important for that extra punch from deep, but it makes it easier on the primary on-ball threats. Capitalizing on those kicks from Herro, Butler, Oladipo drives really can convert the offense in a positive manner. The other element of this emergence is it can provide lineup versatility. They can get back to plugging him in different spots if he’s hitting like this, so it’ll be interesting to monitor.

#4: X’s and O’s time: A set that I continue to like for this Heat offense.

The Pelicans began making a bit of a push in the third quarter as the Heat were forcing certain looks that they shouldn’t have. In a period that they needed to be offensively settled, they went to old reliable within their offense. I started out this piece talking about the Herro-Bam PnR in space, yet there’s a layered shift that always seems to generate a good look. Before Herro took a dribble with Bam screening, Butler slips dunker spots to catch his defender by surprise. He receives the ball on the left block, turning into an and-1. The very next possession, they baited the Pelicans a bit more. Herro and Bam actually run this PnR as Herro gets deep into the paint, Butler flips spots late, and he hits him for the easy flip shot. It’s a very subtle thing, but that’s a lot to account for on offense with those three pressure points.

#5: A potential momentum builder?

As I’ve discussed across this entire piece, this was a hot scoring night for the Miami Heat. But this was also the first time they’ve been fully healthy, probably all season. The starting lineup back intact, as the bench four were all locked into their respective roles as well. Sliding everybody down a slot simply does wonders to many of their role players. But now it’s all about seeing if this can be another one of those momentum builders. Consistency has been the word I’ve brought up all year, both on and off the court. On the court, they need consistent themes and identities on both ends of the floor. Off the court, they need to simply string some things together over a large span. They’ve done that this week, mostly against worse talent, but now they are facing Luka Doncic and the Mavs plus Jayson Tatum and the Celtics in 2 of the next 3 games. The true challenge.

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 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 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.