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Breaking it Down: Nekias Duncan on Heat-Hawks II

How is this happening?

How are the Miami Heat off to a 4-1 start with Jimmy Butler missing three games and playing passively on offense for most of the other two?

How are Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro doing this…. as rookies?

How is someone on a two-way contract, such as Chris Silva, contributing so much?

After the Heat’s latest win, this one 106-97 against the Hawks in Atlanta, Nekias Duncan (@NekiasNBA) does what he does: a comprehensive video breakdown on Twitter.

Duncan contributes to Five Reasons Sports Network from time to time, so look for more of his work here.

Still, this thread is worth your time, just like this Heat team:

 

 

 

Heat Win Behind Stellar Night from Bucket Bros

The Miami Heat rolled into Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks with a 2-1 record. Coming off a rollercoaster weekend that had fans salivating at the thought of adding a top 15 player to a roster that had shown loads of grit and resolve, but lacked the reliability of a tried and true closer.

Enter Jimmy Butler. Back with the team after the birth of his daughter, Rylee (pronounced Riley . . . how’s that for culture?) Jimmy entered a locker room full of young players, confident in their roles and a couple of vets adjusting to theirs.

Butler’s impact was felt almost immediately as he showcased his offensive arsenal early. A measured drive to the rim, a catch and shoot 3, an and-one off balance runner in the lane . . . Butler was in his bag early scoring 12 points in the first quarter.

The second quarter, however, belonged to Tyler Herro. Apparently Herro was tired of all the Kendrick Nunn love and decided to enter into the Rookie of the Year conversation himself. Herro scored 19 in the 2nd, rediscovering the shooting stroke that dazzled fans in the preseason.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young came into the game torching opposing defenses, but his night was short-lived after he was stripped in the lane by Justise Winslow and stepped down awkwardly with his right foot, twisting his ankle.

But even before the Hawks lost their superstar point guard, the Heat’s defense looked stout, outside of consistently losing track of big man John Collins. After Young’s exit, though, the Hawks offense turned anemic without a consistent shot creator on the floor all night. The Heat took full advantage, keeping the Hawks in the low 40’s in FG percentage.

The defensive triumvirate of Butler, Winslow and Bam Adebayo will be something to watch closely all year. With Coach Erik Spoelstra leaving either Butler or Winslow on the floor until late in the game to guard the perimeter. The Hawks promptly scored with ease and Butler was back in the game the next play. With Winslow leading the team in minutes on the young season, he undoubtedly welcomed the opportunity to share the defensive load.

Goran Dragic chipped in another great performance off the bench with 21 pts.  The pressure that Dragic puts on opposing second units is impressive. He has stated that Sixth Man of the Year is his personal goal and so far it seems well within reach.

After carrying an 18 point lead into the 4th quarter, things got tight late behind a full court press from the Hawks and half court traps.  The Heat were able to hang on (112-97) with the night ultimately belonging to the debut of Butler with 21 pts and a record setting effort from Herro.

Herro scored the most ever points off the bench by a Heat rookie with 29, the record was previously held by Michael Beasley with 28.

Adebayo finished with 17 pts and 10 rebs, securing his third double-double in 4 games. Nunn finished with 17 pts as well, continuing his hot scoring streak.

The Heat play next on Thursday night against these same Hawks with Young’s return to the lineup uncertain.

 

Get Used to Kendrick Nunn

You’ll have to get used to Kendrick Nunn.

Maybe we’ve been hyping the wrong rookie.

Well, not entirely. Tyler Herro is 19. He will have much better nights than he did in Wednesday’s season opening 120-101 win for the Miami Heat against the Memphis Grizzlies, when he was often squeezed off his spots and tried to do much creating to compensate.

But it was his summer league backcourt mate, the one who has appeared polished in every game he’s played for Miami — Las Vegas to preseason to now the regular season — who shined the most.

Kendrick Nunn is 24 already. And the guard — snatched from Golden State on the last day of last season — matched his age with his scoring in his Miami Heat debut, a debut that came as a surprise starter. Not a substitute starter. That was Herro, in for Jimmy Butler, who missed the game with a personal issue (nothing to worry about). Nunn was supposed to start all along.

Think about that.

Nunn, who wasn’t drafted, who wasn’t valued enough by a thin Warriors team to be kept safe from poachers, who was an afterthought heading into the offseason, was given the starting job between Butler and Justise Winslow for the season opener at home. Ahead of Herro. Ahead of Dion Waiters, before Waiters’ complaining and IG stalking got him suspended.

Eric Reid, who has called 31 seasons of Heat basketball, tried to tell you on the Five on the Floor we posted just prior to the opener:

As Reid noted, this promotion wasn’t just about that 40-point game, mostly against Houston’s starters, in the Heat’s preseason finale. It was about the steady approach Nunn has shown for months now. His hesitation dribble is elite. He does not rush. He switches comfortably between both guard spots. He competes on defense. And he’s not afraid to pull up and launch when he sees some space.

The Heat have a long history of unearthing point guards. Anthony Carter, now on the staff, and Mike James had long NBA careers after no team really wanted either. But Nunn is a combo of the two. He shoots much better than Carter. And he’s more versatile and polished than James.

Also, the attitude.

Listen here:

 

 

Charles Barkley loves Dwyane, Herro & Heat?

What’s happening in the sports media world tonight?

Dwyane Wade told us on Twitter that he got some good news Monday. But no one could have anticipated this.

Joining forces with Charles Barkley on TNT?

Is everyone forgetting the way that Barkley has treated Dwyane Wade over the years, to the point that even Wade’s buddy (LeBron James) and wife (Gabrielle Union) had to step in and talk back?

I mean, just click on this history of the Barkley/Wade feud.

And that feud has gone beyond Wade. Barkley has never ceased taking shots at the Miami Heat. He didn’t think James should have signed with them. Then he said James should go back to Cleveland. Then he said the Cavaliers title meant more than the Heat title.

And on and on and on.

Now, suddenly, Barkley and Wade are teammates.

And of course, Shaquille O’Neal — whose relationship with Wade has been hot and cold since O’Neal forced his way out of Miami in 2008 — is Wade’s teammate again now too.

But now, what’s gotten into Barkley? He’s not just making jokes at Shaq’s expense in favor of Wade — saying that Wade carried Shaq to the 2006 title, but he’s praising Wade’s heir apparent as the Heat’s featured 2-guard.

But here’s the thing: Barkley didn’t just start liking Herro. The Basketball Hall of Famer is also part of Turner’s NCAA Tournament coverage, on which he is forced to fake it most of the time. He was, however, high on Herro prior to Miami drafting the Kentucky freshman. Very high.

Look:

Herro calls it drip.

But whatever.

Barkley liking the Heat now is such a stunner that it will take some getting used to. With Wade classing up Turner, and Paul Pierce still polluting ESPN’s studio shows with his terrible (sorry Charles) takes, we know where we will turn first for NBA analysis this season.

 

Herro and the Miami Heat Heels

Tyler Herro’s meteoric rise has captivated the Heat fans and the national media. His elite shotmaking ability, a valuable skillset put on display throughout summer league and NBA preseason has the rest of the league taking notice.

However, on October 17th vs the Orlando Magic it was his toughness and his WWE heel-like trash talk that went viral on social media platforms.

 

 

It’s a toughness his teammates love and embrace.

Jimmy Butler once again expressed how much he “loves that kid” and Justise Winslow was the first teammate to console Herro, who didn’t need much consoling, after the scuffle. Winslow did it with huge grin on his face, akin to an older brother watching his little brother win his first fight. And Winslow he wasn’t the only one. There was a a noticeable slight grins on the faces of nearly all of Herro’s teammates and coaches.

This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who’s familiar with the Miami Heat culture. They like tough and serious players. It’s why after drafting the silly Michael Beasley in 2008 they’ve drafted players who are nothing like Beasley such as Winslow, Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo and now Herro and KZ Okpala.

Butler is known for his tough love, and verbally challenging his teammates. The difference with Herro and why they’ve bonded so much in a short time is because Herro “talks back.”

Herro’s trash talking is nothing new, this is the same Tyler Herro who was walking into high school gyms getting booed by opposing fans, silencing them with his play on the court, all the while smirking at opponents. Often, they tried to rattle him first, but he didn’t back down.

And it’s not just Herro. Butler in an interview with Heat broadcaster Eric Reid said “Justise Winslow doesn’t back down from anyone.” If you recall, Winslow who’s usually stoic was the opposite of that in the playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. A technical foul for stepping on Joel Embiid’s mask, getting into scuffles, and screaming expletives at Ben Simmons thought the series.

There probably hasn’t been a team with this number of players who exhibit the Miami Heat DNA since the fights between the Heat and New York Knicks in the late 1990s. Udonis Halem has never been bashful, Dion Waiters can talk up a storm, Olynyk has been in skirmishes, and James Johnson almost used everything he learned from his MMA background on Serge Ibaka last year before cooler heads prevailed.

The “Big Three” of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade were hated but they wanted to be loved. The heel role didn’t suit them or their personalities. To the contrary, this heat team is tailor maid to be villains. Jimmy Butler said he wants this Heat team to be “hated”, with their physicality and their bluntness trash-talking, they’re well on their way.

Looks like the Miami Heat have a lineup

We sort of called this one.

No, it wasn’t expected quite this early, but Tyler Herro joined two other newcomers — Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard — in Miami’s starting lineup Monday against Atlanta.

And you shouldn’t expect it to change, after Herro scored 23 in 25 minutes in another rout, this one 120-87.

The lineup gives Miami the spacing it requires around Butler and Justise Winslow. It also allows Erik Spoelstra to reunite Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters (old 7-11 from the 2016-17 run) as what would now be the best backcourt pairing in the league, provided that Waiters gets back on the floor in the right frame of mind. Waiters is back after having gone away for “personal reasons,” coincidentally after he said he didn’t want to come off the bench. (He wasn’t active Monday).

When Kelly Olynyk returns from a knee injury, he can slide in as the versatile backup big, with Derrick Jones Jr. rotating between forward spots, and James Johnson (once in condition), Kendrick Nunn (who looked great again Monday) and Duncan Robinson (who continues to struggle with his shot) getting spot duty.

Spoelstra was noncommittal about whether he would keep the lineup together, but it would be unusual for the Heat to elevate Herro so quickly, watch him play so brilliantly and then slide him back to third team.

Not happening.

Not with support like this from Butler.

So get used to it — fans, media and, of course, Dion.

Check out Greg Sylvander’s column on Tyler Herro, the big bucket of hope.

Butler and the Bucket: the Love Affair continues

We first saw this Butler affair flourish in Chicago.

That’s where Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro started posting Instagram love letters to each other, shooting and sneering together in workouts.

Now, though, their affection is in full bloom.

Jimmy Butler clearly likes guys who get it. Who not only can play, but play really really hard. It’s already apparent to him that the rookie does that.

And Tuesday, in the Miami Heat’s preseason opening win against the San Antonio Spurs, Heat fans saw that up close. Herro scored 18 in his preseason debut, every which way. But he also dished, blocked, scrambled and sprinted.

And Butler loved it.

Well, he didn’t love everything.

He doesn’t love Herro’s hair.

Here’s a clip from after the game.

You’ll probably figure out when the rookie walked by him, and then walked out.

Get your Jimmy Canastas t-shirt here!

Herro Shines in Miami Heat Win Over Spurs

The night started as Jimmy Butler’s show, but it ended as Tyler Herro’s coming out party.

Herro shined in his debut, scoring a team high 18 pts while leading the team in its 89 to 107 victory over the Spurs.  Herro was a game high +29 and showed every facet of his game.

“It’s great for young guys to come in and have that confidence to be aggressive and to feel comfortable,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’m sure he had a lot of nerves coming into tonight, not knowing what to expect.”

Spoelstra’s juge experimental starting lineup of Justise Winslow, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Bam Adebayo got off to a rough start.  The defense looked porous and the offense anemic, but after a few trips up and down the floor they seemed to settle in.  Butler, especially, looked like he preferred to defer and didn’t score his first points until the second quarter – missing his first three shots mostly under duress or late in the shot clock.

Business really picked up when the bench unit entered the game late in the first quarter, led by Goran Dragic and the much-heralded Herro.  Herro’s full offensive arsenal was on display in the first half. Step back three pointers, dribble drive push shots in the lane and turnaround midrange jumpers.  By the end of the first half, Herro had the American Airlines Arena crowd breathlessly anticipating every possession.

Adebayo and Leonard proved more than capable in the rebounding department, temporarily putting to rest a large concern this offseason with the departure of Hassan Whiteside.  “We have to (rebound), not just necessarily Meyers. We have to be a group rebounding team. We talk about being one of the better defensive teams in the league, but we have to finish possessions,” said Spoelstra. The two combined for 19 rebounds while playing only 23 and 24 minutes. Adebayo also chipped in with 14 pts.

Winslow proved capable of handling the offense at times in an uneven performance, including a disappointing 0-4 from three point range after making the shot a priority this summer.  After shooting almost 38% last season, this may prove to be much ado about nothing, but it’s a play that he needs to make if he wants to continue to lead the starting unit.  Winslow finished with 11 pts, 3 assists and 4 turnovers.

Chris Silva was another bright spot for a Heat team in search of size off the bench. “He made us watch him. He’s had those moments in training camp too,” said Spoelstra.  “He had a great block tonight, but he probably had 5 blocks better than that in training camp.”

Silva finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds in only 14 minutes.

The Heat have their Hero and Herro together

The Hero and Herro.

Well, this was refreshing.

As the Dolphins tank away everything but their toilets at the Davie practice facility, we’re getting closer to the no-tank team in town getting rolling again.

The Miami Heat open training camp on October 1st.

The Dolphins will likely have lost four games by then.

So it was a welcome sight to see new alpha Jimmy Butler back in the United States after his extended European vacation — and even better to see him working with the Heat’s new kid hope, Tyler Herro.

Warm and fuzzy yet?

And no, that’s not Dion in the middle, as some suggested.

What is the best part of this photo, other than the Heat’s present and future together?

The attitude.

I have high hopes for the Heat season, and we have the Hero and Herro.

A Heat team with an uncluttered roster and a chip on its collective shoulder?

Sign us up.

Especially in light of what’s happening with South Florida’s other pro teams.

Need something to wear?..

Go to our merchandise section and check out our no tanking tee.

 

The Miami Heat seems to be the only Miami professional team that is not tanking (the Panthers are from Broward, so do they count?), and we will definitively be very close to the team, as usual, but this time, going very often to the arena, to provide you with interviews, live analysis before and after games and a lot of Alf complaining. Please check out Five on the Floor and Cinco Razones Deportes Network (for Spanish listeners). We will have a blast!

Miami Heat fans need a Herro… and a Xanax

Prefacing this by saying we love you all.

(We need you, anyway.)

But Miami Heat fans can be a little neurotic at times.

Maybe it was the insanity of the Big 3 years, which raised expectations to an unreasonable level. But lately, it seems like Heat fans are always on edge, and always extreme.

The latest example is the Tyler Herro situation.

When Pat Riley and the Heat made the Herro pick a couple of weeks ago, the majority of Heat fans freaked out. The entire crew of Miami Heat Beat threatened to quit. The poll I posted on @5ReasonsSports ran 70-30 or more against the selection. You all were comparing Herro to Jimmer Fredette and creating new “washed” memes for Riley.

You weren’t very nice.

And now, after a few impressive summer league games — and yes, they’ve been impressive — now I’m being bombarded with questions about why the Heat haven’t signed Herro yet.

Enough that I felt compelled, from out here in Las Vegas, to address it.

Of course, this is why most of you are doing it.

If Herro remains unsigned, he can be traded without waiting out the 30-day window.

Now, I understand the differing opinions about Westbrook. For me, everything should be on the table for Westbrook other than Bam Adebayo, who was out here watching from the Heat bench yesterday — and then wasn’t allowed back in the building right away by security because he wasn’t wearing a name badge (I’m serious; he’s 7-feet tall; and he was polite, of course). I like Justise Winslow a lot, and I’m intrigued by Herro, but Adebayo is the unique piece on the Heat roster, a big who fits the modern game perfectly and is also a perfect Heat culture fit.

But even if you’re against the Westbrook deal under most circumstances (and I get the reasons for that too), let’s have some perspective. I watched Herro struggle to shoot early against a Chinese team that wouldn’t get much run at the local JCC. I’m enamored by his shooting form (high and quick), and I’ve been impressed by his aggressiveness, especially in transition. He appears to be more than a shooter.

Heat officials have told me that Herro is further along than they expected. They’re telling me, not the league, so I don’t think they’re just trying to pump his value. They like him.

But come on.

This is summer league we’re talking about.

And this is an All-Star we’re talking about, in Westbrook.

Let’s let it play out.

And stop freaking out.