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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Big Win Over Brooklyn

The Miami Heat took down the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night in the definition of an all around night. Lowry thriving, Butler shining, and role players making the difference.

So, here are five takeaways from this big win…

#1: Hit ahead passes were not only the first quarter theme, but a new Miami offensive theme.

Some offensive things fluctuated throughout this one, due to stretches being picture perfect, textbook offense, while other spurts were once again in the mud. But to look back at that clicking style of play, it aligns with that transition offense that we all knew Kyle Lowry would provide upon arrival. Yes, he pushes the ball down the floor. Yes, he can slow them down when it’s needed. But most of all, that hit ahead pass has been pretty contagious across the roster. With it only being the fourth game of the season, it feels like we’re still in that stage where they’re trying to grasp the timing of it fully, but it still works. Guys like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have fully embraced that as well, which is a major part of it this early in the season. But it’ll be necessary to mix it in out the gate, instead of showing all of their cards immediately as the season progresses.

#2: Jimmy Butler comes out with all eyes on the rim.

Jimmy Butler always seems to come out with a clear-cut plan when the game begins. Sometimes in a game without Lowry in Indiana, it’ll be pure play-making with the ball in his hands. But in a game in Brooklyn after a 36 point night against Orlando, it was all about scoring. He was getting to the rim consistently, and even without getting that whistle, he was still converting regularly early on. And well, that’s the Butler they’re going to need over this next stretch of games against tough opponents. Butler was so crucial in the rebounding and defensive aspect of this game, providing second chances and extra possessions for himself over and over on the box. Coach Spo is exactly right when he says Butler is not a flopper, but that physical downhill play isn’t disappearing. Fullback Jimmy is still very much in effect.

#3: This version of Dewayne Dedmon provides much more flexibility.

There’s been one bench guy that has stood out in many of these games, either in a positive or negative light, but tonight that guy was Dewayne Dedmon. In many ways, offensive opportunities were just falling right into his lap under the rim, but actually converting on those possessions is a completely different story, which he has continually done at an extremely high level. This team also hasn’t been the greatest rebounding team in recent years, especially when relying on an undersized rookie Precious Achiuwa as your back-up center to provide that specific skill. Dedmon has done just that, and the offensive activity is the main element. Six first half rebounds with four of them being offensive. Miami needs those extra opportunities like that if they’re shooting this poorly from three, and having a reserve propel you in that way is important. But it wasn’t just him, which I’ll touch on down the line.

#4: Miami’s third quarter run: off-season acquisitions.

Coming out of halftime, it almost looked like Brooklyn could run away with it after an immediate triple from Kevin Durant. But what turned it around for Miami in that span? Well simply, the new guys. Kyle Lowry was a big reason for it to start, after a quick run that consisted of himself and himself only. Transition pull-up three, running the floor for a lay-in, and a nice dish for a Robinson three was how it went down in a stretch, really sparking Miami to kick off the second half. But the guy who was even more impressive tonight, specifically in that third quarter, was PJ Tucker. Making Durant as uncomfortable as humanly possible, competing on the boards in a way Miami hasn’t had in years, and just getting his hands dirty by diving for loose balls and things of that nature. If you get a big time game from one or two role players over this tough stretch of games, they will be in great shape coming out of it.

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#5: A rebounding flip from this Heat team changes things.

Looking back at the off-season, the Heat lacked a couple of things when evaluating the team on paper. They needed a pure point guard, which they got in Lowry. But they also needed added rebounding, which it was unclear if they acquired. They brought back Dedmon, but the only other front-court additions were strong 4’s who provide more of that horizontal presence than vertical presence. But let me just say, length doesn’t always equal good rebounding. Miami killed the Nets in that category tonight, and it was the definition of a team effort. Butler was outstanding in that area, Adebayo did his job, Tucker/Dedmon provided those extra opportunities, and Tyler Herro continues to bring that strong attack off misses. Keeping Spo’s personnel while adding a Pat Riley staple is the definition of a successful off-season.

 

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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Orlando

The Heat took down the Orlando Magic on Monday night to improve to 2-1 on the season. Jimmy Butler led the way with an outstanding bounce back, while others sprinkled in some other things behind him.

So, let’s take a dive into some takeaways from this game…

#1: All eyes on Tyler Herro.

Tyler Herro has had a pretty incredible start to the season, kicking it off with a 27 point night then following it up with a 30 point night. A main takeaway from those games: he had a ton of attention on him…after he got rolling. It was a different story tonight, as once Tyler Herro’s name was announced across the arena, there was a united understanding on the defensive side of the ball for Orlando: hound him. Hedging pick and rolls, guards full out blitzing, and much more. What did that mean for him in the first half? Find Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and that’s exactly what he did, leading to a combined 34 point half for those two. And that will be expanded upon more as the opposing scouting report continues to hone in on it.

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#2: Jimmy Butler comes out with a purpose after his poor performance.

If you watched Jimmy Butler against Indiana, you’d know he wasn’t himself. Efficiency was terrible, and as he said after the game, he allowed that to dictate his defense. In this game, he turned that around completely. 24 points on 11 for 13 shooting through 17 and a half first half minutes is a clear indicator. The interesting part is that only 2 of the 24 points came from the free throw line, but you don’t need fullback Jimmy when he’s knocking down those easy bunnies and mid-range jumpers. Were those points just being generated through Kyle Lowry’s presence? Part of them were, but the 4 first half steals can pretty much tell you he was generating stuff for himself as well.

#3: Miami’s offense is back…I wonder why.

From tip-off, the Heat were not only getting out on the break at a higher rate, but half-court sets were flowing. What led to the turnaround? His name is Kyle Lowry. It wasn’t Butler and Adebayo reverting back to late year’s play-style anymore. It was them receiving the ball right in their spots, just focusing in on that off-ball movement that each of them are so good at. In terms of the transition offense, it’s pretty obvious why it’s called “Kyle chaos” among the team: nobody can truly keep up with it. Guys like Adebayo and Herro are embracing that style of play to fully sprint down the floor, but it’s another thing to be in the right spot at the right time with the right peripheral vision. That stuff will come over time, but having that Lowry base will pay off majorly as the season continues.

#4: Markieff Morris embracing the offensive role necessary.

Something I’ve been talking about with Markieff Morris since he arrived has been the offensive spotting that he finds himself in. A main reason he’s been toward the bottom of many rosters recently is due to that inefficient deep ball that continues to pop up year after year. How can they maximize him then? Well, making him a roll/mid-range threat is the obvious way. It’s only the third game of the regular season, and we’re seeing it repeatedly. Toward the end of the third quarter, his stat-line read: 10 points, 5 for 5 shooting, zero 3 point attempts. Shortly after, he clanked a triple off the side of the rim, and followed that up with a big shot from the corner, but the point still stands. He has a chance to really thrive in this role, and three point attempts aren’t the way to do that. A potential shift in his front-court mate may enhance him even more though.

#5: A point of emphasis for Max Strus: get up shots.

Max Strus’ role is clear with this team, provide spacing and shoot the ball. As he said after practice when I talked to him, his role is to get Tyler Herro the ball, but could he be taking that too literally? He had 1 shot attempt up until the beginning of the fourth, before letting a wide open three go in the corner. But that play kind of projected his entire mindset. He had the open corner three initially, but swung to a covered Herro. Herro then gave it right back to him as he knocked down that shot. But focusing on his shot attempts will be crucial for him. They need him to score in this role, even if Herro and one of Butler, Adebayo, and Lowry are on the floor. He’s been doing a lot of other things well such as taking charges frequently, but those attempt numbers will need to rise. And not just the late-game heaves after the game is decided that he loves.

 

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What Happened to Miami’s Offense Down the Stretch Against Indiana?

Going from an opening night performance where Miami scored 72 points through 2 quarters to the second game where Miami scored 91 points through 4 quarters and an overtime is pretty interesting.

The missing piece from the puzzle: Kyle Lowry.

It’s not just that Miami missed his pure skill, but they just need that extra piece at the top of the roster to avoid lineups that are pretty uneven bench groups to say the least. As many have noted, this game looked like one from last season.

The other element to missing Lowry was that the offense was so out of control and in the mud throughout this game. They missed that offensive initiator to place them into their sets and allow them to just go, and it’s even harder when Jimmy Butler has a night shooting 7 for 22 from the field.

So, on this atrocious shooting night, it’s important to look into the stuff that was being run late in this game. Let’s take a quick walk through Miami’s last 2 minutes of regulation and the entire overtime on the offensive side of the ball…

The one positive note from Miami late in this game was the scoring from Tyler Herro, even if he did do it on 28 shots. Attempts should not be harped on with him in a game like this, since considering the offensive pieces around him last night, he should’ve been shooting for 30+.

Aside from that, it was clear the ball needed to be in his hands late in this game no matter what. Down 2 with 2 and a half minutes left, he avoids the screen and moves back left for a tough shot above the break. And well, he buries it.

Fast forward to 55 seconds left, Miami’s score remains the same, but they go back to that Herro creation at the top of the key. He steps back on Brogdon moving to his left and hits by far the toughest shot of the night.

If this wasn’t a signal that the ball had to go through him, I don’t know what was.

But yet, Indiana’s defense seemed to want the ball in anybody else’s hands as well.

Tie game with 30 seconds left, Butler is trying to get Herro on the move like they’ve done up to that point with constant screening. But with Brogdon covering Butler, he can easily show and recover on the screen, leading to a Miami reset.

Butler gets the ball at the top of the key as Bam Adebayo comes for the screen, and this is exactly what you want. Take a look at the spacing on the floor: Robinson and Herro both have their defenders glued to them on the perimeter, giving the Heat’s best two players the ultimate runway.

But everything just seemed a step too slow in that department. And better yet, predictable.

There was a crease for Butler to hit Adebayo on the roll, but he misses him with all attention on him on the ball. He then speeds up to attack, and every defender basically crashes in at once.

Why is that? Well, all 9 players on the floor knew what was coming next, and it led to them meeting him at the rim.

Without the team’s primary initiator, of course processing things offensively will be a bit delayed, but it’s unlike Butler to miss the type of reads that he always makes. He tried to make a play, but came up short on this possession.

Now, we make our way into the beginning of overtime, and it actually kicked off with one of the few good looking possessions for Miami in this game.

Butler orchestrating for guys to be in the right spots, as Adebayo sets a pin-down for Herro as a decoy essentially for them to get into the initial action. Adebayo gets the ball, Herro sets the back-screen for Butler, and Adebayo lobs it up to Butler for the bucket.

Now that looked like good offense that we saw against Milwaukee in the season opener.

The Heat are now down 2, and they try to run something similar to what was shown in the last clip with Adebayo receiving the ball in the high post. The ball gets bounced around, and it leads to a top of the key pick and roll with Herro and Adebayo.

Not only does Herro see two defenders fly at him, but there was no worry in the scheme defensively to quickly recover. The plan was clear: make Herro uncomfortable.

That’s exactly what they did, as Herro makes the right read to hit the open corner, but it flies way over Tucker’s head out of bounds.

When looking back at this play, there should be a slight shift if this coverage is ever thrown at him again, which many Heat players said after the game will be seen again. Adebayo should relocate to the free throw line extended on the roll as a release valve, while PJ Tucker should drop to the dunker spot.

If a defense is going to commit that heavily, you have to ultimately force them into flawless rotations once Adebayo catches that in the mid-range. Obviously it’s just the second game, so stuff like this will be tweaked when seen again, but that right there isn’t Herro’s fault.

The supporting cast can’t be immobile when this type of thing is seen.

This was a very crucial play for Miami when looking back at it, but it told us all we needed to know about this game. It’s Herro and Butler playing catch on the perimeter, while Adebayo’s early aggression fades completely.

In many ways, the role of Adebayo in overtime was the one he embraced when playing for Team USA in Tokyo.

Taking up space in the dunker spot, and pure screening and relocating. He wasn’t a roll threat, he was just a screen threat.

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Now, that’s not all on Adebayo, since the wing players have to do a better job of hitting him in those open windows, but there has to be that self awareness of who he is in these moments.

You’re already without a top player, in Kyle Lowry, so it should be him taking a step forward instead of a step back in terms of role.

The play ends in Butler trying to draw a foul on his three-point attempt, which clanks off the rim and into the Pacers’ possession. When the team is down 4 with 3 minutes left and that’s the shot you’re getting, you just aren’t winning those games. Especially considering the night Butler had up until that point.

But hey, somebody other than Herro had to try and make something out of nothing.

The hopes of Miami making a late push are pretty nonexistent at this point. Out of the timeout, down 9, Erik Spoelstra draws something up for one of the best shooters on the planet: Duncan Robinson.

Why is this important to note? Well, we needed to see more of this when offense wasn’t clicking late.

Miami went from a team that only relied on Robinson on the offensive end through hand-offs last year, to almost forgetting he’s on the floor at certain points last night.

Robinson has usually been the guy getting the double teams thrown at him in these spots, but his teammate, Tyler Herro, was seeing that instead. And that right there is an indicator to get Robinson some looks no matter if he missed some easy ones early on or not.

Robinson gets a wide open three on the inbound off the Adebayo screen, which is not something we’ve seen often on inbound plays recently since he’s the usual piece being focused on. But waiting to unleash him in this way 3 and a half minutes into overtime didn’t give them much time to recover.

Speaking of “waiting to unleash,” here’s Adebayo pushing the ball up the floor with 1 minute to go in OT, and ultimately missing two forced shots at the rim.

Once again, does it matter that he fell short on those lay-ins late? Maybe to a certain degree, but they just need him to get the ball up. And yet, this was the first time in overtime that he took it upon himself to initiate offense.

This isn’t just a conversation harping on the aggression of Adebayo, since I actually feel he has become much more purposeful in that department, but it must stay consistent.

It can’t be forceful right out the gate, it has to be in the normal flow as well.

It can’t be Kyle Lowry telling him to go, it has to be him realizing he can blow-by his guy as well.

In no way should people overreact to this game, since many of these trends won’t be the case when Lowry gets back on the floor, but this team has to be prepared for one of Butler or Lowry to be out for a game here and there.

Since that can be the difference between finishing the season with home court advantage or not.

 

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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Overtime Loss in Indiana

The Miami Heat fell short in OT to the Indiana Pacers, in a game that was the basketball definition of “in the mid.” Jimmy Butler just couldn’t put the ball in the basket, and without Kyle Lowry, it became the Tyler Herro show late.

On a very rough offensive night, here are some takeaways walking away from this game…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s aggression stays consistent early on, but unfortunately fades late in terms of offensive set-ups.

The Heat are 8 minutes into a pretty uneven start to this game. Bam Adebayo with 6 shot attempts, rest of Miami with 7 total shot attempts. This wasn’t just an abnormal aggressive start from Adebayo. This is just him now. Pulling up with zero hesitance on that inner wing, attacking the basket right at Myles Turner and Damantas Sabonis like he always does against this team for some odd reason, and getting to the line due to that driving urge. The point is this: if it can get to a point where it’s expected instead of hopeful, then that’s a fantastic starting point. Nobody will question an inefficient night at this stage of his career, the same way many will question an unwillingness to shoot. The issue with that is he faded late. When offense grew more and more stagnant in overtime, it was forced jumpers from Butler and double teams flying to Herro. In a game like this, Adebayo must be set-up late the way he was set-up early.

#2: Kyle Lowry out, Gabe Vincent in. What does that mean for the rotation status?

Kyle Lowry was a game time decision for this game and ended up sitting out, which I don’t think was a bad choice considering it’s only game two. As I expected, Gabe Vincent stepped into the starting lineup, since well, that’s the Erik Spoelstra way. But after a slow start from Vincent, it may lead to some questioning the insertion, but let me just say that move is even more necessary in a game like this. Things clearly fell apart in the non-Butler and Adebayo minutes like they did last season, and starting Tyler Herro means you’re making the minute distribution even worse. Vincent looked very predictable in his minutes, since his defender seemed to always know exactly what he was doing before he even did it. But a major point of emphasis in a game without Lowry is to put Herro in the right spots, which they did…

#3: The growth of Tyler Herro is real…and it’s not just one thing.

When walking away from the first half, the primary takeaways were all negative: lacking full-on engagement, Butler’s shots weren’t falling, Dewayne Dedmon looked a step slow with that ankle injury, etc. But a positive element somehow outshined those other things: Tyler Herro. A 16 point performance in the first half through 16 minutes doesn’t do his evaluation justice. Movement shots on the baseline, carving up the mid-range with ease, and utilizing that added muscle by embracing contact on the attack. That stuff is brand new. We can sit here and breakdown the “growth” from Herro to begin this season, but it truly isn’t one thing. He’s just comfortable, and combining that with an immense amount of confidence to lead the team in shots in the first half by 5 attempts is pretty interesting. And then capping it off with clutch shot after clutch shot late in the fourth is a completely different story. The emergence is here.

#4: Miami’s third quarter fight finds an offensive set that is quite intriguing.

Jimmy Butler had a rough game shooting the basketball, but he did find other ways to chip away with this team. One way of doing that was defensively, and the other was trying new things on the offensive end. Early in the third, Butler found himself on another isolation on the inner wing, which hasn’t worked all night. Duncan Robinson makes his way around the wing instead, Butler hands it off to him, and two Indiana defenders fly at him. Robinson dumps it down to Butler on the short roll: easy score. A few possessions later, the same thing is seen again. Robinson draws attention on the hand-off, Butler gets it in the middle of the floor and lays it in. But is it just that simple? Well it is, until Robinson adds that dribbling element like he did late in the third. The third Butler DHO for Robinson was seen, but they were ready for the roll this time. Robinson gets to his right, finds space inside, and banks it in. This offensive wrinkle sparked them tonight, and could be a base moving forward.

#5: This team is going to play in the mud a ton.

When I say that this Heat team will find themselves playing in the mud frequently this season, that isn’t a knock on their offense. It’s putting this defensive structure on a pedestal. Miami had trouble scoring as well, but holding this Pacers team to 8 points in the third quarter after the way they came out shooting wasn’t accidental. Even without Lowry and using plenty of Robinson-Herro lineups, this team stayed true to their identity. Not because of pure athleticism or defensive abilities, but through perfect positioning on that end. The number of charges drawn in this one should tell you enough about how this game went, but even on rotations, this team found themselves in the right spot time and time again. Many may look at a stat sheet from the second half and say Indiana had an off shooting stretch, but it was actually the pressure Miami put on them on that end when the offensive stuff wasn’t clicking. But after the team offense truly never “clicked,” the defense finally broke down late, leading to an overtime loss.

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Breaking Down the Shifting Role of Butler, Adebayo, and Herro

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In many ways, Kyle Lowry doesn’t have a true weakness at this stage of his career.

He can still hold his own at the point of attack, sets others up in a way that Miami hasn’t had in forever, and can win a game by 42 points with only 1 field goal made.

In that all-around role, it has shown an incredible expansion for the players around him. The 27 points from Tyler Herro, 21 points from Jimmy Butler, and 20 points from Bam Adebayo isn’t the only reason I say that after beating a Bucks team without key players, but instead it’s the way they’re generating these looks and scoring 137 points in a game.

This is a super talented defensive team, but the descriptions don’t end there: this team can put up points…

Bam Adebayo:

Kyle Lowry Forcing Him into More and More Shot Attempts

How is Bam Adebayo’s aggression coming together so fluidly to begin the year. Is it the natural evolution of a young player like Erik Spoelstra noted? Is Adebayo going through those motions with a purpose? Or is it just simply Kyle Lowry?

Adebayo seems to think it’s the latter.

“It’s really because of Kyle in all honesty.”

It’s one thing to just put it out there in that sense, but it’s another thing for it to be absolutely correct when watching the game film. Yes, we see Adebayo “just going” even when Lowry is on the sideline, but there’s a specific edge and confidence that Lowry is feeding into.

Just take a look at the first clip: Adebayo has Giannis Antetokounmpo in space with an empty corner, but decides to pass back out to Lowry instead.

What does Lowry do? He immediately reinserts that ball into Adebayo in the post, and clears out to the opposite side of the floor. This isn’t last year when the guard would stand at the top of the key as a safety blanket for Adebayo’s eventual kick-out. This is Lowry saying ‘you’re shooting this ball no matter what.’

Consequently, Adebayo jabs and fires away for a bucket, which he did many times in this game. Even when speaking with media post-game, he noted that’s been a point of emphasis with him during the off-season. He’s comfortable with that jab jumper, and it’s not just a space provider. It’s a rhythm shot for him.

Lastly, there’s something else to pick up on with these two Adebayo shot attempts. His point of operation.

Adebayo calls it “picking his spots more,” but I call it “not needing to be the elbow release valve every play.” Now, he’s able to work from that inner wing or baseline where he has the space to do many different things.

It’s not just about Lowry making Adebayo take those shots in clear-outs. It’s the responsibilities Lowry has stripped from Adebayo to just be himself.

Some Fast-Break Magic

The Heat finished this game with a transition frequency of 20.2%. Last season, they were 14.9% across the 72 game season.

It’s only one game, but you can tell this is a long term thing. Guys like Lowry and Herro love that style of play, but Adebayo has finally embraced it, which is a scary thing.

Nobody can truly keep up with a coast to coast Adebayo on a nightly basis, and one guy that could probably slow him down better than anybody is the guy he matched up with last night: Antetokounmpo.

Euro-steps, downhill collisions. We’re seeing it all from Adebayo on the break, and it’s not because anybody on the floor is forcing him into that. He’s just finally freed up.

This team is built to run, and they’re embodying that already. But if Adebayo is the pace initiator throughout the season like he did in this season opener, it’ll be quite the offensive agenda for defenses to try and scheme against.

Jimmy Butler:

Defensive Freelancing is Upon Us

I brought this up a ton throughout the game last night, since well, it’s something I’ve noted since the Lowry acquisition was finalized.

We knew what Lowry would do for Adebayo in terms of unlocking things offensively. We knew giving Herro a pure point guard for the first time in his career would do wonders. But it just felt like the defensive shift from Butler was more important than anything else.

Butler is obviously one of the game’s best defenders, but I wouldn’t say he does it in a way that many of the other players in his category do it. Like Adebayo for example, we see his greatness on the ball by swarming smaller guards and things of that nature.

But Butler, on the hand, does it in the shadows.

He’s an off-ball master in that sense. It’s something I’ve broken down many times leading up to this point, since the additions of PJ Tucker and Lowry meant more reps for Butler outside of the offensive actions.

Timely doubles is his specialty, and he’s going to be a looming free safety all season, sending that all-out blitz more times than not.

Looking at the clips above, you can see this all happening in the first few minutes of the game. Gambling on some cross-court doubles once Antetokounmpo turned was something I expected, but the interesting part about it was he wasn’t holding back.

Not a ton of show-and-go to say the least, it was just pure willingness to swarm these guys who weren’t his assignment. And well, that is Jimmy Butler.

That will be Jimmy Butler all season.

A Simple Game of One-On-One

Walking into the Miami Heat practice facility after they finish practicing, there’s a consistent theme.

On one side of the court, there is Jimmy Butler going one-on-one with different coaches, trainers, and players for about 30 minutes every day. Udonis Haslem was the one a few days ago getting in those defensive reps, as they went at each other in a one-on-one setting where Butler fits in best.

And going through those motions isn’t just for some extra sweat and cardio. There’s a purpose, and that was seen in this game against Milwaukee.

Lowry does take a lot of pressure off Adebayo, but he also puts Butler in better spots to score as he noted after the game. In other words, Butler finds himself playing one-on-one in the half-court a bunch, doing it as loose as he does against UD after practice.

But Butler’s game hasn’t changed at all, so why is this important to note?

Well, Butler’s game may not have changed, but the team around him has. Looking at the clips above, nobody can fully commit to the double that they always seemed to do last season with zero reluctance. No knock to guys like Kendrick Nunn, but they had certain limitations on that kick-out that Lowry just doesn’t obtain.

If they double team Butler in that fashion, you’re not only at risk of giving up a Lowry three, but you’re also giving him a 4 on 3 on the backside, which is one of his best offensive skills in terms of decision making.

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Allowing Butler to play one-on-one all day is a treat, and it gives this Heat offense a fun wrinkle that they weren’t able to fully commit to in the past. (And yes he missed in that clip, which is new after watching him go 1 on 1 last night)

Tyler Herro:

Confidence is Higher, Release Point is Higher

We’re officially at the point where a 27 point performance from Tyler Herro off the bench to kick off the season doesn’t even surprise anybody. It’s just normal now.

So many limitations that were once placed on him as a scorer with the constant necessity for a screen are no longer in place. It’s not that he added a bunch of unstoppable combos to get to his spots. It’s just a simple formula.

Confidence is higher and his release point is higher.

In many ways, those two things can go hand in hand. When a player is having an off game and confidence is lowered, you always begin to notice shots being short due to them becoming flat-footed.

But when that confidence is as high as Herro’s is at the moment, that shot is higher than any defender’s wingspan.

He’s rising over the top of defenders all over the floor, and he isn’t being fazed by contests. It’s a skill that has pretty much gone under the radar for Duncan Robinson over the years, since essentially blocking out a defenders close-out can change a scorer’s outlook.

And Herro’s outlook has completely changed.

Some may think these points are being overstated, but they absolutely aren’t: placing Herro in this simplified bench role is the reason for him emerging. Play-making and rebounding have been sprinkled in through the natural flow of the game, but he’s not being asked to do any of that.

Mostly since Butler or Lowry are lined up next to him at all times.

“I love playing with Kyle,” Herro said about Lowry. “My first two years in the league I didn’t really have a point guard who could get everyone organized, and that’s no knock on my former teammates.”

And that last part is the truth. Guys like Goran Dragic were great for the original growth of Herro, and what they brought on a regular basis, but that just wasn’t his role. Dragic was in a scoring role as a scoring guard, but now Miami has that pure point they’ve been missing.

Or should I say, that Herro’s been missing.

Inside Game Coming Along for One Reason

A three-level scorer is emerging. The mid-range game from Herro has been pretty close to unstoppable through the preseason and first regular season game, his outside shooting has been highly efficient, and the inside game in question has been tweaked now as well.

The floater has been an interesting gadget for him, since it means he isn’t one dimensional inside the paint. Instead of spamming underhand scoop layups on every pick and roll drive, he has an outlet that can be relied on.

And well, that floater has been a constant sticking point after these Heat practices.

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It isn’t just about the floater either. The added muscle that he put on has entered the equation as well, and I think we’re seeing just where he added that weight.

Going back to my earlier point of firing over the top of defenses with a high release point, the added strength in his legs is the main reason for that. But it seems like that behind the scenes work has gave him the confidence to embrace contact more and more.

Looking at the first clip above, Herro wasn’t doing that last year. Going right at that dropping big, bumping him with his shoulder, then fading away with the bank. That right there is a new Tyler Herro.

And in the big picture, nothing is better than a ‘more’ confident Herro at this stage. And who is feeding him that confidence? His teammates around him, as he’s illustrated over 20 times since camp ended.

And that is a major shift for him. It’s a major shift for this team. And that domino effect all started when Lowry landed in Miami.

 

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Five Takeaways from the Heat’s Final Preseason Game

The Miami Heat finished off a great preseason run with a win against the Boston Celtics. Miami was working with their entire squad for this one, generating some chemistry with their new and improved nine man rotation.

So, here are five takeaways from this game before completely heading into the regular season…

#1: A look into the new Heat rotation: the substitution process.

Last season, the substitution process for the Heat was a bit interesting. It was a lot of staggering Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, with the absolute need for one of them to be on the floor to survive. Adding Kyle Lowry has fixed that element, and that was seen for the first time tonight. After the starting stint to begin the game, Adebayo and Lowry went to the bench, as Butler stayed in with the bench guys. Those pairings clicked all together, starting with the continued connection between Butler and Dewayne Dedmon in those side pick and rolls. Lowry then came back in as Butler went to the sideline for more positive minutes with the bench unit. And in many ways, that stretch is the Tyler Herro enhancer, since it’s pretty clear Lowry elevates his game tremendously.

#2: Some Tyler Herro-Jimmy Butler flashbacks.

Jimmy Butler drives to the middle of the floor, does a 180, and finds Tyler Herro at the top of the key for a three in stride. Bucket. Am I describing late-game madness in Herro’s rookie season against the Chicago Bulls or tonight’s game against Boston? Actually the answer is both. That duo is playing together for their third straight season, but that type of connection hasn’t been seen since that initial year. Herro shooting with confidence over the top of defenders while Butler is creating with hard attacks into the teeth of the defense. If this combo is clicking, I think of this offense in a totally different way. With Herro playing at this incredible level when the ball is in his hands, it’s only making Butler’s life easier. And there will be a lot more smiles throughout the season than there were this last season.

#3: Bam Adebayo trying to find himself early on.

To be completely honest, this was far from Bam Adebayo’s best game early on. He struggled majorly on both ends of the floor from the very beginning: late rotations or cut-offs leading to easy lay-ins, over-dribbling in the post, etc. But when I said struggle, did you notice aggression wasn’t something I mentioned? He was taking shots, even though they weren’t great shots by any means. The point is that if the only issue in his “down” half is in terms of effort or things in the flow of the game, then it can easily be tweaked. He was second on the team in field goal attempts at the half behind Herro, showing flashes of getting the ball up at the rim. He did just that in the second half when Butler and Lowry were on the bench, and that’s exactly what is needed. Dominate the paint while Herro and company play the perimeter.

#4: More Duncan Robinson.

It feels like we may have come full circle in terms of the discussion surrounding Duncan Robinson. Last season we were clamoring to abandon the dribble hand-off in many ways, ultimately to allow the stars to just attack. Tonight, the stars were attacking, but even with some shot attempts and efficient shooting from Robinson, it felt like we may need more in the offensive flow. The starting group clearly needs more time to gel. The half-court offense wasn’t the greatest when those five shared the floor, but a main takeaway was a jumbled up interior. The counter to that is flying Robinson off back-screens and pin-downs for the intent of letting him fire, instead of as a constant decoy. Once again, this is only preseason, so we will see more of this stuff, but it definitely caught my eye in this one.

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#5: Kyle Lowry’s role is simple.

We all know Kyle Lowry is highly capable of putting the ball in the basket. Whether he needs to a ton is a completely different story. In this case with the Heat, I don’t believe his PPG will be super high. He will have big games when others are struggling on that end, but his goal is to force high attempts for Herro, Adebayo, Butler, etc. And well, he did that tonight. It wasn’t in the assist column, but he just causes controlled chaos on the break and half-court in a good way. As I said before, many have been predicting Lowry’s skill to propel Adebayo’s offensive game, but that is aligning with Herro just as well. That backcourt has looked incredible in their minutes so far, and we will see that combo plenty more. It’s just giving Erik Spoelstra more and more options, handing him the keys to that creative ability that he loves so much.

 

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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Home Preseason Match Against Charlotte

The Miami Heat basically rolled out the entire season rotation on Monday night, except for a main factor: Jimmy Butler. Continued reps for the very important duo of Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo, a rough shooting night for Tyler Herro following his three game master class, and some lineup fun from Erik Spoelstra.

Anyway, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Caleb Martin gets the start…and I think we see this often.

With Jimmy Butler out, Caleb Martin slotted into the starting lineup against his former team, seeing a familiar match-up in Cody Martin. Looking at the history of Erik Spoelstra, two-way guys are essentially starting lineup replacers. Why is that? Well, he’s never been interested in messing up the chemistry of the rotation, leading to him pulling a guy up from the bottom of the roster. Just ask Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. Martin has looked like he can handle that responsibility as well, not just through his shot creating actions on the offensive side of the ball, but his gritty defensive presence instead. Just looking at this game for example, Martin was immediately inserted into the Jimmy Butler role, crossing the half-court line with the ball in his hands. I believe we see more of that.

#2: The size Bam Adebayo has put on is a difference maker on many possessions.

Bam Adebayo has shown major differences in the way he’s going about things in the preseason. Operating from the mid-range wing instead of the elbow, giving him more room to operate with the ball in his hands, ultimately opening up his driving game. The other big difference maker with Adebayo is his noticeable added size. How does that change things? It’s not something you’re going to see on a stat-sheet, or something that’ll jump off the TV screen, but he’s finishing possessions in ways I don’t think he would’ve last season. Grabbing rebounds in traffic, hooking defenders in the post (which I don’t think is legal,) and taking it to the rim stronger for more free throw attempts. There’s no doubt it’ll shift many parts of his game in a positive direction.

#3: The minute distribution of Tyler Herro was preparation for the regular season.

When you see Martin inserted into the starting lineup, it was an indictment on the recent play of Tyler Herro. That should go without saying since Herro has led the league in scoring through three games, but as much as it’s preseason for players, it’s coaching reps as well. Developing some type of rhythm in the rotation is necessary, and that’s what was seen for the role of Herro. Entering at the six minute mark of the first quarter, and exiting at about the two minute mark of the second quarter. The point is that Herro is going to get plenty of playing time, and it’ll be with a bunch of different combos. Today was unique since he won’t be in many lineups with 4 other bench guys, but being the lead man is important as well. And truly, Butler will plug many weaknesses that may be seen.

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#4: Once again, Markieff Morris needs to be a mid-range spot-up guy instead of the three-point spot-up guy.

Markieff Morris is an interesting piece for this Heat team. He has played his defensive role perfectly with the extra size on the interior, but the offensive stuff is still in question. Outside shooting hasn’t been his closest friend so far, but does it have to be? I mean, it would be very helpful for the team’s offensive success, but combining high volume and low efficiency isn’t a great mixture. Moving to different spots on the floor, like the middle of the court, has shown to be a much more comfortable spot for him. It places him into a simple role: corner kick-out, lob pass to the big in the dunker spot, or a mid-range jumper. Making that his home-base on the offensive end will do wonders, but I guess it is just the preseason.

#5: Kyle Lowry at the forefront of all of Miami’s most effective offensive sets.

This may be a pretty obvious statement to just throw out there, but it’s pretty much transferred over perfectly in every way you look at Miami’s offense tonight. Kyle Lowry may be that fast-break presence who can truly push the pace to get the ball up the floor, but his half-court control is what this team has missed. Running plenty of that two-man game with Bam Adebayo is a great starting point. And it’s not just about that coveted lob pass that Adebayo will see a ton this season, but instead Lowry’s ability to hunt his teammates’ mismatches. That’s an incredible skill to have, especially considering Adebayo has been a guy who has needed that extra push. And yet, it’s only the preseason. Back-to-back wing triples from Lowry may stand out from tonight, but it’s everything else that really matters.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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Tyler Herro: The Art of the Mid-Range

“For my first two years, a lot of people said that’s an inefficient shot,” said Tyler Herro on Friday night following a mid-range jumper master class.

“After watching the Finals, you saw Booker and Chris Paul, you saw how they worked the mid-range and got to their spots, but they were really efficient in those areas. That was an emphasis we had all Summer, working on that and being able to be efficient, not just take those shots, but make them.”

Herro has always been a bit different from the rest. When there was no doubt he would be attending the University of Wisconsin after graduating high school, he ended up shifting to play at Kentucky for a better opportunity.

When people doubted him on the floor, he continued to play his role and be a huge piece of a team that made the NBA Finals in his rookie year.

And now, when many love to look at the stats for shots around the rim and three-point bombs, he’s finding that middle ground.

As Herro said after the game, that Phoenix Suns team with Booker and Paul may have changed some people’s opinion following their play-style in the post-season. Against drop coverage, it’s a killer attribute to have that pull-up at the elbow that Herro utilized his first and second year in the league.

But to truly be effective from that area, you must have that creative blend that Phoenix duo had last season. And well, Herro’s already showcasing flashes of that development.

So, what is exactly the difference? Here are some examples…

Spacing Understanding

When watching the flurry of mid-range shots from Herro against San Antonio, it’s clear what his approach is: finding dead spots, finding dead spots, and finding even more dead spots.

Like I mentioned earlier, when running the normal pick and roll against drop, there are spaces on the floor that are being handed to you. But many defenses can live with the “inefficient” long two on a consistent basis through 48 minutes. Well, at least when they’re clanking off the rim.

Herro is at his best when those spots on the floor are being given to him, mostly due to that mental block disappearing. What I mean by that is it almost feels like a wide open jumper in an open gym when he slides inside the arc. His defender is most likely way behind, while he has the dropping big essentially in his palm.

Snake dribbles, calm positioning, and a simple rise-up with nobody in sight. That is the formula.

The interesting wrinkle to this is that we’ve seen some positive flashes when the defense is switching as well. In the first clip above, he flows to his left following the switch and uses his momentum to get a shot off with his typical right to left step-back: bucket.

This is a new Herro. Combining downhill pull-up savviness against drop with comfortable maneuvers against switches is picture perfect for his game. And it’s pretty clear that two on-court focuses this off-season were mid-range efficiency and added layers in those areas.

The Go-To Without a Screen

A common topic with Herro’s offensive game has been the amount of separation he can create. We’ve seen his way of manipulating screens from possession to possession, but with the clock ticking down late in the shot clock, can he create a bucket for himself in isolation consistently?

That will always be about the added combos that he can use before rising up for a shot, but it seems like Herro is almost finding middle ground in a sense.

Take a look at the first two clips above. It’s not that he’s creating a bunch of separation on these plays, but he’s getting good shots off in a different way: rising up over defenders while they’re still planted on the ground.

His new way of doing it is keeping defenders on their toes a bit more, waiting for his next move. Not knowing when that pull-up is coming goes a long way, especially when your release point is as high as Herro’s on those type of shots.

And now, take a look at the last clip. Herro is looking so much more comfortable when he gets the favorable switch against opposing bigs. At first glance, that possession didn’t look much different than past years. Three simple cross-overs before bursting back right for that fall-away jumper.

But well, take a look at that clip again.

Yes, the dribble combos are simple, but there’s a common denominator between all three of these plays without a screen: his hesitations. He’s using these hesitation dribbles to get to the spots he wants on the floor, and that can be a major difference maker.

Of course it’s only the preseason, but this can also be looked at like defenders won’t be able to help as freely if Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, and company are all on the floor with him.

Probing Dribbles and Fade-away Jumpers

After discussing Herro’s ability to find dead-spots, use hesitation dribbles, and fade-away from defenders with confidence, this is pretty much a combination of all of that.

We’ve talked about the deep twos and elbow pull-ups, but finding ways to be an “attacker” without actually being at the rim every play is huge. One way he has gone about that is with the floater. It allows him to break down the defense a bit deeper, while also minimizing the odds of the shot being blocked.

And most importantly, it’s something he’s comfortable with. Tyler Herro just has to be Tyler Herro. If he’s most comfortable with the one handed push shot, then shoot one handed push shots.

But something else has entered the equation.

Herro’s actually finding ways to collapse the defense, then pop out a bit to get that fade-away shot off that I’m discussing. In the first clip, he denies the screen to attack the basket, quickly leading to the big man sliding up and the corner defender sliding over.

The usual option here would be a corner kick-out, but the defense can usually recover pretty quickly on those type of reads. This new Herro wrinkle is to loop back through for a shot that quite frankly can’t be blocked without committing a foul.

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The second clip is similar, but also different. It’s another possession of him using his momentum to get to his spot, before spinning back around for that close push-shot.

His touch has always been very good around the rim for those scoop layups that he loves, but it’s not something he can go to too much since defenses will begin to react quicker. This stuff, once again, dissolves that predictable element.

“Tyler is the one guy that has been extremely impressive. He’s been playing his butt off. He’s the one guy who truly impressed me,” said Kyle Lowry following Thursday’s game against Houston.

He’s quickly earning the respect from everyone around him, since he’s walking that thin line of hard work in the off-season and immediate production from that development. But as Herro said recently, “I haven’t done anything yet.”

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over San Antonio

The Miami Heat’s rotation may have looked a bit odd if you turned on your TV on Friday night. Many guys sit out for the typical back-to-back, but preseason back-to-backs basically leave coaches looking in the crowd for a starting five. That left Miami with 8 available players, beginning with Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson running the show to start.

But five takeaways are still necessary, even after a game like this…

#1: Tyler Herro showing out once again, displaying expanded mid-range comfort.

Tyler Herro was clearly going to have the ball in his hands more than usual tonight with the long list of guys resting, and it feels we learn more and more about his updated offensive skill-set every preseason game. We’ve seen him get to the line more, shoot at a better rate off the catch, and now, an improved mid-range attribute. That elbow pull-up has always been there for him out of the high pick and roll, but the drifting feel once he steps inside the arc is something new. Step-backs, wild fade-aways, and many more lead-up combos seem to be the go-to in that area, and the key element is that he’s doing it both controllably and comfortably. This preseason scoring run is no fluke, since it’s just the product of a true off-season.

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#2: Increased minutes for Omer Yurtseven means much more controlled playing time.

When predicting forward on this team through the off-season, I felt Miami could end up using Omer Yurtseven a bit sooner than expected, following a fantastic showing in Summer League. But the transition hasn’t been as flawless as I may have thought. The scoring side of him hasn’t really been there since he’s still trying to fit in and play a specific role, but we saw a slight shift within that tonight. Who would’ve thought more minutes at this level would do the trick? Well, possibly all Heat observers. His offensive game begins with slick post work and pure outside spacing, but one of those has stuck out more. It feels like the reliance on the pop-out is the way to go, since his high release point is a match-up struggle for any opposing big.

#3: Max Strus continuing to keep his theme: consistency.

When you’re describing a spot-up shooter in this league, consistency is the best adjective there is. But when I’m using this term in this sense, I don’t just mean outside efficiency. Instead, it’s more about the consistency within the role of Max Strus. That’s been the case since day one, when it became a joke on the team that he somehow always makes his first shot no matter the circumstance. Now, it just feels like he’s putting his fingerprints on every game, practice, and scrimmage in the same exact way. You take a look at the stat sheet during a commercial break and his effectiveness almost comes as a surprise. Yes, it’s known that he’s playing well and putting the ball in the basket, but it’s still a bit unexpected for some reason. What does that mean? It means that the Heat have a straight shooter inside their rotation who shouldn’t have any limitations placed on him. Strus just consistently does the right thing with supreme confidence.

#4: A big picture takeaway: could Jimmy Butler at the 4 be coming?

Markieff Morris got some first half minutes tonight after being listed as questionable, and although he’s a veteran, there’s still some necessary things to showcase in terms of effectiveness and role. I’ve talked about using him as a roller/inside threat more than a spot-up outside shooter, and not one three was attempted in his minutes. Just 6 shots inside the arc, shooting 2 for 6 from the field. As we know, he isn’t the most efficient player, KZ Okpala is basically unplayable at this stage, and Omer Yurtseven still needs a bit more time. The point is that the front-court depth has a couple question marks at the moment, all relying on the health of PJ Tucker. An undeniable positive lineup wrinkle would be Jimmy Butler minutes at the 4, but it won’t be something looked toward a lot. But if it could be used from the 12 to 6 minute mark in the 4th from night to night depending on the match-up, then there’s definitely something there.

#5: In tonight’s exhibit 10 match, Micah Potter was the clear stand-out.

The Miami Heat were able to continue Summer League evaluations into training camp development, and in many ways, that’s what the preseason is for too. They all were given a path to extended minutes tonight, except for Dru Smith who was held out of the game as well. DJ Stewart and Javonte Smart are two young guards with offensive potential, but Yurtseven’s back-up for the night, Micah Potter, ended up being the one jumping off the screen. Between getting plenty of shots up down low and shooting that mid-range/three-ball with confidence, the coaching staff got a taste of his offensive game. He hasn’t been the greatest rebounder up to this point, but tonight was a different story. Aside from the numbers, his positioning principles actually stood out, and when evaluating the exhibit 10’s on the Heat, the small stuff matters. A lot.

 

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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Preseason Win Vs Rockets

The Miami Heat basically had a copy and pasted version of Monday night, coming out the gates with a fast-pace, good defensive principles, and plenty of scoring. The Jimmy Butler-Kyle Lowry dynamic was seen for the first time, but it was actually the Tyler Herro-Duncan Robinson show.

So, here are five takeaways from the second preseason game…

1: The voice of PJ Tucker: a missing piece on the past Heat roster.

Before looking into the X’s and O’s of this game altogether, something sticks out even more. One thing pops out inside a Miami Heat practice, and it’s that Jimmy Butler isn’t the loudest player on the court at all times. PJ Tucker never stops talking, and not in a bad way. From discussing things with teammates to yelling at referees in an in-house practice scrimmage, he’s constantly invested. We saw that a bit tonight when Rockets coach Stephen Silas caught the ball as it traveled out of bounds, leading to Tucker reacting as if it was a blown call in game 7 of the Finals. And well, Miami’s missed that one thing more than anything.

#2: Oh yeah, this Heat team needed a true point guard.

We can’t talk enough about the acquisition of Kyle Lowry to this roster. Point of attack defense, off-ball abilities, and pure scoring on the ball. But while Miami can use all of that, nothing seems as crucial as that play-making skill that he brings every night. No more Bam Adebayo head swiveling as a passer every play. No more overusing Jimmy Butler through 82 regular season games. They have a quarterback now. Starting the game with a Lowry pass to a trailing Adebayo then following it up with a lob to Butler sums up the acquisition. He plugs Miami’s weaknesses, and it’s only the second game of the preseason.

#3: Duncan Robinson had a fantastic 14 point first half, and it wasn’t close to his full potential.

The off-season improvements from Duncan Robinson have been interesting to keep track of. Seeing him drive the ball to the basket in isolation for a bucket shows that he’s slowly building the secondary options in his bag, yet the primary skill’s consistency still holds the most importance. In the first half, he scored 14 points, knocking down 3 triples, but something else is essential to note: that wasn’t close to his best offensive showing. That box score almost came as a bit of a surprise, since he’s held to such a high standard at this point. But the overarching takeaway is one thing and one thing only: Robinson fits this current roster perfectly, and the longer the season, the more he will shine.

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#4: Bam Adebayo seems like he isn’t getting bored on the offensive end again.

One comment from Bam Adebayo on media day summed up last season. He mentioned trying to mix up his offensive game without getting bored in scoring from specific spots. Those areas last season consisted of that elbow jumper and play-making kick-outs/DHO reps. And if you watched the first half of this game, it’s not just about the 15 points in the scoring column as the team leader at the half, but instead the diversity in his shot attempts. Fast-break scoops from Lowry, lob passes on the roll, and surprisingly, some good looks in the low post. While many were worried about him stretching his range out to the three-point line, I’d like to see him utilize his game under the basket a bit more. And that seems to be the case at this stage.

#5: Biggest change from year to year: energy and smiles.

Once again, we’ve talked a lot about the on-court aspect of this new Heat team. But when watching these games on TV, something truly jumps off the screen: the smiles on everybody’s face when playing. I haven’t seen them enjoying basketball this much since the bubble, which makes a ton of sense, since we’re essentially seeing a team play in 3 different seasons in the past 365 days. Combining a true off-season and a change of scenery on the roster seemed to do the trick, and rightfully so. Tyler Herro is a huge proponent of that, since his overall attitude to put in the work is hugely translating to his on-court play with another big performance. And when Herro is playing with all smiles, he is at his best. Just go re-watch his rookie season.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882