Tag Archive for: Tyler Herro

The Heat’s Offensive Checkpoint: Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo PnR

The hot topic surrounding the Miami Heat this week, with Media Day kicking off the week of training camp, has been all about starting lineups. There are three guys locked into their station, while the rest of the roster battles it out for those last two spots.

But it’s not just about being out there for opening tip-off, or having the ability to tell the world your a starter in this league. The most important element when having this discussion is overall fits, and maximizing this roster within that.

To that point, that walks us right into an area that I love to discuss: the basketball side of this.

When Bam Adebayo was asked about the way this roster can truly take the next step, his exact words were “it starts with me and Tyler.”

And that phrase is exactly how I view Miami’s offensive mold to begin the season: starting with Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.

Heading back to last season, we began to see the two of them emerge as not only the two young faces of this organization, but an upticking two-man game on the offensive side of the ball.

A high level offensive scorer when flowing downhill and a dominant rolling big man who’s as athletic as any big in this league. What’s not to love there?

The pick and roll showed to be a dominant pairing slightly passed the halfway mark of the regular season, leading to coach Erik Spoelstra thinking of ways to tinker.

As we all know, late in the season the team had to shake some things up with the rotation. The main one that gets brought up is Max Strus inserting into the starting lineup for Duncan Robinson, but there was an even larger adjustment behind the curatins.

The substitution pattern was altered. Herro would enter for Jimmy Butler much sooner, so that he could share the floor for added minutes next to Adebayo. Trust me, that was intentional.

Fast forward to the post-season, Herro had some challenges on his hands with different coverages. But one thing that popped off the screen, particularly in games 1 and 2 of the second round against Philadelphia, was that the pick and roll between these two guys couldn’t be stopped.

So they did just that: they didn’t stop going to it.

That got them to a 2-0 lead in the series, as we saw it sprinkled in a bit the rest of the series and into the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston.

But the point is this: that was just the precursor. We’re just scratching the surface on this two-man game to say the least. Not only will the frequency of reps be rising with Herro possibly slotting into that starting 2 spot, but their games are rising simultaneously.

So let’s take a dip into the different stages of a Herro-Bam pick and roll, and how it can evolve this year…

Step one of this process is the base blend. Noticing Herro’s favorite defensive coverage of drop, they begin to flow downhill. Jayson Tatum fights over the screen, which is exactly why I label this the base blend.

The last thing you want is for these two guys to get you on a 2-on-1. Bam stays linear with Herro in the pocket, Grant Williams must play middle man, and Herro floats right into his coveted pull-up jumper that simply can’t be altered once he begins to rise up.

The primary goal of this action is for him to find that pull-up, but the secondary goal is to play the mental game of the off-ball defenders. The thing to watch this season is the gravity on the weak-side, since if guys like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, and others can make their defenders second guess, it’ll have Herro and Bam dominating with ease.

As seen in that clip above, Robert Williams is just trying to muck up the action by playing much lower than the nail. He’s a different kind of beast since he has the leisure to dip off far with his elite recovery speeds, but the point remains the same.

As much as they’re manipulating in the action, they’re also playing the long game to manipulate outside of the action.

So now, here will be the next adjustment.

Okay so we learned not to go over on this duo to create the 2-on-1 opportunity, so let’s try going under that screen. Well, Tyler Herro learned pretty quickly this season he has one option when seeing that while the big settles in deep drop: Pull. Up. Immediately.

He began finding himself as that instinctive shooter, but as seen in the clip above, this is the most common iteration of a team that prepares to go under. They’ll just play much higher in drop, eliminating that pull-up shot from him when rounding the screen.

{Bam Adebayo enters}

Now that 4 eyes and 2 bodies are on the wing next to Herro, the pocket pass quickly follows to a momentum filled Bam Adebayo.

When I asked Tyler Herro about this evolving two-man game, he said: “I love getting Bam the ball. He loves setting screens and getting to the basket for a lob or a pocket pass. Not many 5’s can stay in front of Bam, especially when he’s running downhill…Not many guys can stop him.”

That’s something that we know for a fact. Going back to the clip I’m describing above, take a look at the end result. What kind of weak-side help can do anything with that?

I’ll wait.

If his man is the one on the perimeter for the blitz, it’s like an open lane for a running back from there.

So what’s the next coverage to throw at them? We’ve hit on the normal drop when going over a screen. We’ve hit on the high version of drop when going under a screen. So how about we blend those two coverages together.

Herro flows left with a very solid screen from Bam that trips up Korkmaz a bit as he fights over. As we see from here, Joel Embiid is playing at the level of the screen to counteract the pull-up out of the 2-on-1, as I showcased earlier in this piece.

Instead, Herro keeps his dribble alive to force Embiid to drop into his slot on the rolling Bam, leading to an easy left handed lay-up.

The key to all of this is that these two guys have options. It’s just about manipulating those around them enough, while utilizing all the tools at their disposal. Too often we see them settle with simply the pull-up or pocket pass time and time again.

But as shown here, there are multiple options within the action depending on the coverage that they see. And the funniest part of this: I’m not even accounting for the off-ball stuff with the other three guys on the floor.

Options. Options. Options.

To play off the last coverage I displayed, there’s also the ability to play at a much higher speed than the slow-paced half-court set. We all know both of these guys have a tendency to play into the rhythm of the game, which most of the time deals with overall game speed.

For example, a drag screen from Bam on this occasion forces the defense into making quicker decisions with quicker feet. Maxey doesn’t see the screen and decides to fight over, Embiid scrambles to a driving Herro, and he easily slips right by for the crafty finish around the rim.

It’s one thing to bring up pace when discussing more transition opportunities, which both Bam and Herro have the capability of doing, but it just as much points to the authority of speeding up half-court sets.

You may be thinking that this has been very Tyler Herro centric for a piece that’s talking about a two-man game, but all of the plays I’ve displayed have been a 50/50 split in terms of effort.

Bam Adebayo’s screening, rolling gravity, and perfect positioning allows Herro to get many of those good looks out of this set.

But to focus a bit more on his scoring ability out of it, there are pretty much two primary steps for it to be successful.

Number one has a lot to do with the way teams decide to guard Herro as we went through, but more specifically, the blitzes will create non-stop opportunities for Bam as a scorer and play-maker.

In that clip above, he catches in space after Herro drew two, leading to a 1-on-1 at the rim against James Harden. (I like those odds)

The play-making part of the blitzing stuff is all about playing into the numbers. Two fly out on Tyler and Bam catches in space, you now have your athletic play-maker controlling a 4-on-3. (I like those odds too)

But back to the original point, the second step to Bam’s process is the expansion to come. We’ve gotten glimpses of the pocket pass into the elbow jumper, but that frequency rising bends this PnR duo to new heights.

Herro already provides the necessary mid-range gravity, yet if Bam is doing it similarly, even on a lower clip, it changes the outlook of defensive planning on the opposite side.

To finish this off, I’m pretty sure a lot of you may know where I’m going next. If I’m talking Bam, I’m talking inverted pick and roll.

It’s all about finding ways to put the ball in his hands as a scorer, but this is also an outlet to create mismatches. A guy like Herro or Lowry screening for Bam creates chaos if he approaches it correctly.

As seen above, the delayed switch allowed Bam to get to his spot and rise up. We can also add in the fact that Herro’s scoring gravity can create mis-directions as well, which all lean in favor of Bam finding slots to be productive.

Herro recently revealed that he’s currently at 198 pounds and 4.5% body fat, which is the lowest on the team, meaning that he may not be the most useful screener on the roster when evaluating on paper.

But as I just stated, much of the time it’s simply about creating chaos.

And that’s what this two-man game of Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo will look to do this year on the offensive end.

“They’ve gained a lot of confidence in their two-man actions,” Erik Spoelstra said late in the playoffs last year about the Herro-Bam PnR. “They do a lot of different things with those actions and a lot of them are unscripted.”

Well now with another full off-season logged, we’re going to get a look at these two guys with the script in hand. And that script could end up making all the difference in this team’s half-court approach from October of 2022 to potentially June of 2023.


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The Incoming Improvements for Tyler Herro in his 4th Year

Tyler Herro has been the center of attention so far this off-season when it comes to Miami Heat talk. From trade rumors of Kevin Durant to Donovan Mitchell, his names been thrown around a ton.

Some of that is viable when it comes to the search of upgrading a team that was so close to the finish line, but that doesn’t mean the narrative of Herro on the court needs to change.

We can take both the positive and negative into account when discussing gradual improvements: the positive being his 6th man of the year regular season and the negative being his playoff decline.

It’s always crucial for a player to focus on the necessary areas of their game to maximize. But the public opinion as of late seems to vocalize what he isn’t instead of what he is.

So let’s start by addressing what he is as currently constructed.

The place to start is that he’s coming off a highly efficient three point shooting season off the catch. He shot 42% on spot-up triples, which is a great counterpart for a player who is mainly an on-ball usage guy.

Maintaining that number would be important as his shot creation expands, but it should also be noted that his spot-up attempts could increase as well. With Victor Oladipo replacing PJ Tucker in the regular season rotation in theory, that provides more usage to spread around, and more importantly, more rim pressure.

Capitalizing on those off-ball opportunities could lead to that jump in PPG.

The other main aspect of his game that has shown to be elite this past year is the pull up shooting. That’s essentially always been his bread and butter, but he took a major step this year in how he got to those pull-up spots.

The coverage formula is simple: if he sees drop, he sees a bucket at the elbow. But he expanded on that a bit in the regular season.

He gained comfort against switches, while simultaneously upping his willingness to actually accept the screen.

For a long period of time, he would refuse any screen that came his way, but well, he walked away from the off-season with that added gadget.

And now the gadget of this off-season doesn’t involve refusing or accepting the screen in the pick and roll. It’s about doing without that screener all together.

The beginning stages of that development began taking place during this season. It’s not always about a pure iso, but drawing out the big man following a screen and making them pay.

Herro’s go-to in that occurrence is to space as far as possible, and flow into a pull-up right over the top of the bigger defender.

His high release point allows him to continually get a clean look out of it. Looking at the clips above, it’s not that he’s getting open looks through this movement. But he’s getting a comfortable look since he believes in that abrupt pull-up.

The reason I bring this up is that introduction layer is what stalled him out at times in the post-season.

Every time a screen came, two defenders came. They began blitzing him over and over until he made them alter the scheme. The issue was the only counter to it was not calling for the screen in the first place.

So, is there total trust in him as an isolation player?

Well, we will see the answer to that at some point this year, but it’s not going to be a needed element for long periods of time. It’s just as a counter in his back pocket.

Getting back to his formula against big men on the switch, that will be his isolation staple as well. The talks about separation were a big conversation early in his career, but simply rising over the top became his way of getting by that.

There are three things that can take his game to the next level when exiting this off-season, and this is step 1. It’s all about finding that segue from regular season to playoffs, and he’ll benefit with this addition in both time stamps.


When speaking about finding a consistent base from regular season to playoffs, the ability to get to the rim is a good start. Rim attacks naturally decline for guys when entering the post-season, due to everything being much more in the half-court and teams can scheme against it.

Herro found himself in a groove in the regular season as an attacker, since his floater became a sticking point in the in-between game. He was averaging just under 12 drives per game, while generating around 6 attempts a night off those attacks.

Yet when the playoffs hit, both numbers basically sliced in half: he averaged 3.6 attempts a night on 6.8 drives.

We always have the discussion about embracing contact around the rim as that strong attacker, which coincides with added trips to the free throw line, but I’m just not sure that’s the sustainable force.

What I mean by that is it’s all about finding things that create positive outcomes in both the regular season and playoffs. And when looking at the clips above, that’s the middle ground that seems to pop.

He’s never going to fly through the lane like Ja Morant to get the foul call, yet he’s methodical enough to take those slow-footed floaters. The combination there is bump-lean-float.

That formula is why he’s so comfortable on the baseline. That out of bounds line shows there’s nobody going to come back-side, meaning he can bump and lean freely.

He seems to have gained some extra muscle as well, which helps this case even more, but there’s no doubt this subtle, and somewhat minor, movement can take his game to the next level no matter the time of year.

Breaking that specific barrier inside the lane not only gives him more options, but it can free up that mid-range pull-up base that he loves to get back to so often. If he can mirror those contact embraced baseline drives into his regular pick and roll reps, that’ll create the necessary diversity to maximize all three levels.

Now, the final improvement area isn’t as ball-centric as you may think.

To zoom out for a second into a Heat sense, I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I believe Erik Spoelstra leans heavily into their movement offense this year.

They already run a ton of motion, but with all of the guards on the roster, it should be beneficial to make defenses run and chase in the half-court at a higher rate.

What that means for Tyler Herro could be very intriguing. One of the downfalls to the playoff lineup of Jimmy Butler-Victor Oladipo-Tyler Herro was that movement was the primary factor to it working properly. If Butler was in isolation with Dipo and Herro standing around, the play was dead.

Simply, that can’t be the case this year.

I’d say that Herro is pretty good off the move, and also a very underrated screener off the ball, but it’s more about consistency and role within the offense. I wouldn’t exactly say this is something you can fully work on in the off-season, but it’s something to prepare for.

The clip above is a perfect example: a defense preparing for his next move as he looks to be shooting into a DHO, he fakes it, cuts back door, and gets an open lay-in out of it. Easy buckets were popping up often when he ran this type of stuff, but many of us forgot about that.

Why is that?

Well, we didn’t see much of this in the playoffs. Once again, part of that is defenses buckling up in a different manner, but there will still be opportunties to pounce on this upcoming year with more shooting on the floor.

The perception of Herro during the off-season always gets a bit wanky, but my perception of him as the basketball player never wavered. Yes, he’s a good enough headliner piece to get you in the conversation of a Donovan Mitchell type, but that doesn’t mean you only focus on the playoff decline now that he’s staying on the roster.

He has some things to patch up as I noted in this piece, but the only reason we focus on so many of the minor elements is due to the fact he already has so much to offer.

He grew as a creator. He grew as a play-maker. He grew as an all-around scorer. Now it’s time to grow as a player with a substancial amount of on-court attention coming his way.

I believe he will have the neccessary counters ready, and I also believe in what he is at this stage. Don’t let off-season rumors fog your view of a high level basketball player.


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The Ways to Maximize the Butler-Oladipo-Herro Pairing

When talking about the Heat potentially running it back to begin the season minus PJ Tucker, you could also make the case they’re running back the regular season by swapping Victor Oladipo for Tucker.

He was a guy that played a couple games late in the year, but was thrown in the mix during the playoffs to try and make it work on the fly.

But now that Miami re-signed him, this no longer consists of trial and error.

This is the real thing.

Yet when talking about him specifically, it’s more about how things will fit around him with certain lineup combinations. One of those awkward combos gained a ton of steam in their post-season run, but like I said earlier, they were basically trying things out to see how they’d look.

The combo that was gone to religiously was the Oladipo-Jimmy Butler-Tyler Herro grouping. They turned the keys over to a bunch of creators, basically knowing that the defending role players would hold up on the other end.

Looking at raw numbers within the advanced statistics, that three-man combo wasn’t the greatest. It logged a 107 offensive rating and 111 defensive rating over 97 minutes. But the issue with that is numbers like that don’t tell the full story.

Tyler Herro’s advanced stats were very poor late in their playoff run, bringing down a ton of lineup data. But something that always tells the truth: film.

I ended up rewatching all 97 minutes of the time they shared the floor, mainly focusing on the offensive end. And to scope even further, the half-court stuff. We know how and where all of them operate individually, but where do they blend all together?

There were some mixed variations, but I’m going to highlight the primary stuff that jumped off the screen. Starting somewhere that many of you can guess without even watching the film: spot-up shooting.

Just when using simple math, combining three on-ball creators means one has the ball in a pick and roll set, while the other two space out on each corner or wing. That, at times, became an unnecessary homebase for this Heat group, since there was zero consistency within that process.

Drive and kick, drive and kick, drive and kick. Yes, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo can knock down a spot-up corner triple, but it’s most definitely not the role you want them in.

Other than the fact that they’re better after putting the ball on the deck, the purpose of utilizing three creators is to ‘utilize them as three creators.’ The second they enter the three-point spacer role, the original purpose of this lineup has lost it’s value.

Now, this isn’t to say they won’t take advantage of the spot-up triple, but the process is the key element here.

With these three offensive builds, swing-swing-shot just won’t cut it.

Yet, swing-attack-paint touch-kick will cut it…

A common thread in their minutes together was that things always looked great when one of them got two feet in the painted area. When one of the three trusted mid-range threats build some momentum, the defense collapses slightly, which is basically the plot of how this can work.

Constantly move. I’ll get into that a bit more in a second, but when you look at some of the clips above, you’ll notice a difference in defensive disposition compared to normal spot-up shots.

They really found their groove in this department in the Philadelphia series. The Hawks series was a quick experiment late in the round, leading them into finding something offensively in the 76ers series, leading into facing a Boston defense who shut the water off around the rim if your name wasn’t Jimmy Butler.

But when talking regular season for the time being, that 76ers series is the blueprint.

We can talk about the starter competition all we want, but the truth is that doesn’t hold as much value as this does. Finding a way for this grouping to work changes everything. Lineup versatility, death lineup status, lengthier lineups on a team full of guards, etc.

But as we get into how they can make it work exactly, I must go back to the comment I made a second ago. When they share the floor, the key is to take the “motion offense” label and absolutely run with it.

Before I even say a word, watch the two clips above.

I can guarantee most of us are aligned on what we saw. Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo impersonating statues.

Whenever it included Jimmy Butler isolations or pick and rolls, even considering how great he was at carrying this group, it was never a good sign for the offense in a specific run.

Herro is a rhythm player. Oladipo is a rhythm player. This type of standing around only leads to them being behind the 8-ball, and as I said earlier, you must bend the defense to be successful.

I hate comparing things like this to the Warriors, but they’re a great example. They have two of the greatest shooters ever to make it work, but the idea of constant movement to create opportunities off the dribble, not only from beyond the arc but at the rim, is how Miami can replicate things with this grouping.

When going back through this film, this created a ton of big time offensive runs in the playoffs, mostly at home. They started playing to the crowd, got out on the break, and were moving in the half-court.

But the next question becomes: how do they make this movement stuff work?

And well, this was my biggest takeaway after watching possession after possession of these three guys.

The answer isn’t even one of the three.

If we expand this into a 4 man lineup with Bam Adebayo, the offensive rating shot up to a 121 offensive rating over 53 minutes. Yet after watching the way they utilized Bam in these time slots, that number didn’t surprise me at all.

For starters, they played Bam much higher out in these lineups than they usually would. There are a couple reasons for that, but I’ll just give you two: 1) Taking that weak-side big away from the rim with 3 attackers on the floor is the way to go and 2) they basically said ‘hey Bam, play some quarterback for us.’

If you watch that 45 second video above, it’ll give you an idea of that in video form.

Miami completely played Bam above the break, and used guys like Herro and Oladipo as rim blitzers off the wing. It’s simply a way to beat the overplay, but it’s also a main priority of creating some offensive movement in the half-court while bending the defense.

Sometimes you’ll see a simple overhead pass over the top to an open cutter. Other times it’s a weak-side misdirection where two fly at Herro.

The point is that Bam Adebayo could be the clear connector to make this pairing work, specifically late in games. We’ve talked about letting Bam operate in more space. We’ve talked about giving him more of the offensive reigns.

This could end up being a way to blend all of that together.

Trust me: if I learned anything from those 97 minutes across 10 games of basketball, it was that they found certain pockets to make it work with Bam playing distributor. The next step will be combining all of these checkpoints into a strong offensive base.

The groundwork is there. Now it’s all about consistency.

I’m heavily focusing on select players in this piece, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about them working guys like Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, or Caleb Martin into this mix.

This is a season where they’re going to use more three-guard lineups whether you like it or not, and Jimmy Butler at the 4 could most likely be the closing go-to, while I don’t believe it’ll be the starting choice.

Yet since Lowry was out for so many games over this stretch, I didn’t get a good enough idea of the specifics of that lineup. But another lineup addition jumped off the screen to bump this 4 man group into a full 5 man lineup.

Max Strus.

While it may seem odd, adding a shooter to this mix with constant screening, sprinting, and gravity shifted their half-court diet. Not only am I noticing this now, but the coaching staff clearly picked that apart with the amount of times they levitated toward that insertion when it truly mattered.

In 29 minutes, the lineup of Herro-Oladipo-Strus-Butler-Adebayo recorded a 132 offensive rating and 95 defensive rating. Yes, a VERY small sample size, but that wasn’t a coincidental occurrence. They found a blend to make things look clean, and if you look at the two clips above, you’ll notice the floor open up much wider when he’s moving around.

I know there are a lot of layers to this, but there will be a lot of layers to this season. And one of those layers is that if they run it back, making the Herro-Oladipo-Butler operate at a high level will be key.

You won’t get 2022 playoff Butler in this upcoming regular season. So now it’s time to equally split up the load. Or better yet, a Herro emergence or Oladipo comeback dominance may push this in the right direction even quicker.

Either way, it’s going to be unleashed.


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Tyler Herro: The Scoring Tweak to Fully Expand his Offensive Menu

When evaluating the Heat’s current off-season, the name Tyler Herro comes up a lot. Yet when you see that name pop up on the internet, you know it’s probably involved in a mock trade of some kind.

But that’s pretty much what the off-season is for. Fantasy trades, predicting possible outcomes, and trying to pinpoint the direction of a team a couple months in advance. Except, nothing can be predicted in this league, since you can only control what you can control.

With that said, if a star does present themselves, you go for that guy, which Pat Riley pretty much noted in his presser after the season.

But there also must be some perspective and realism: Tyler Herro isn’t just a trade chip. He’s a valuable player to this current Heat build, and has a good chance of being the team’s starting 2 guard by game 1 of the 2022-2023 NBA season.

So, that gets me back in my element of discussing specific developments, instead of the constant jersey swaps that are popping up on the daily. What will be the focus of Herro heading into next season?

The initial answer would include adding some extra muscle to become stronger as an attacker and finisher around the rim. Gaining that also could gradually improve his defensive abilities, since strength just slightly piles onto everything in a positive manner.

Yet that isn’t the main focus heading into next season.

This entire discussion must be based around Jimmy Butler. He’s the superstar of this team that the front office is trying to build around, whether that be internally or externally. And if it ends up being the internal route, a lot of weight will fall onto Herro’s shoulders to fill the gaps that are necessary to counteract Butler.

A primary way of doing just that: isolation, isolation, isolation.


It’s a true statement that the “playoffs tell,” but that doesn’t mean you have to always throw away the things you learned in the regular season. Herro grew in so many major areas of his game this past season on his way to winning the 6th man of the year award, including his shooting from deep, control in the pick and roll, play-making, and much more.

Yet the only slot of his game that didn’t stand out in the category of pure improvement was his isolation game. In his rookie season, he scored 0.69 points per possession with a 3.4% frequency. That jumped up to 0.84 points per possession in his second season on a 5.2% frequency, yet declined back down to 0.78 PPP this past season while simultaneously shooting up to a 9.3% frequency mark.

He was so skilled off the screen that it almost wasn’t noticeable. No matter if it was the high pick and roll, a dribble hand-off attack, or a set that landed him in catch and shoot position, he just continued to shine and prove to be a high level offensive player.

So, if that’s the case, why is the isolation stuff so important?

Well, here’s your answer…

The injury restricted him in the Eastern Conference Finals from being effective, but the constant blitzing and doubling was the cause in the second round against Philly. He became the decoy which opened up Butler on their way to a series win, but when discussing internal improvements next to Butler, a decoy isn’t the current need.

Back to the original point, this is where the isolation need comes into play. We can talk all we want about “beating the blitz,” but the next layer is not allowing the opposing team to blitz you from the jump.

The need for the screen fell right into the 76ers’ plans to stop Herro.

Now, you mix in a good amount of isos into that shot profile, and it could be an entirely different ball game.

His usual go-to when going one-on-one can vary. If it’s a big that’s guarding him on an iso, a pull-up triple of some kind is always the outcome as he shoots over the top. If it’s a regular match-up, there’s a good chance a step-back mid-range is the answer, since he found a lot of success in just shooting over the top of guys when gluing them to the floor. Then the last option is when he knows a weaker defender is the match-up, in which he will get into his crafty finishing bag around the rim.

The issue with that above: being able to pinpoint a player’s upcoming move in a game of one-on-one is problematic.

It felt like at times teams know what’s coming in those spots, and when that transitions into playoff ball, the half-court offense shrinks, the strong-side corner shades over, and left handed skip passes are required.

A lot of this is viewing stuff under a microscope, which is necessary with players of Herro’s caliber, but it just illustrates how a little bit of 1-on-1 polishing could shift his entire scoring menu.

Once again, top tier players could force their way out of their respective teams, meaning Pat Riley begins picking up the phone, but that just doesn’t seem like a very likely scenario in my personal opinion.

Changes will be made around the edges, but it still comes back to patching up the holes in the boat. Butler is the boat, and Herro would be the hopeful patch.

Isolation will never, and shouldn’t, be anything close to his base. But it must be available to him when needed, since that’s the next step. He’s only gotten better the past 3 years in a Heat uniform, and I don’t believe that’s plateauing now.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Celtics in Game One

The Miami Heat kicked off the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, and it didn’t start in ideal fashion.

As I will discuss, things weren’t clicking on both ends of the floor in the first half. Emphasis on first half.

The second half was an entirely different game. Gabe Vincent to Max Strus to Jimmy Butler.

The Heat took off, and well, they didn’t look back. They now are up 1-0 in the series, during a game that they looked like they had no business winning for 24 minutes.


So here are some takeaways…

#1: The problematic trend of the Heat’s interior defense in the first half, tied to off-ball switching,

When watching this first half for the Heat, a lot of what happened was kind of expected. Choppy offense in the half-court, switches bothering Miami, plus more. Yet, the defensive issues weren’t expected one bit. The Celtics were owning the Heat in the paint, shooting 15 of 19 at the rim in the first half, which added up to 42 points, two shy of a postseason record in one half. But that leads into a question: why was that happening? Well for starters, Jayson Tatum was basically blowing by that initial perimeter defender any chance he got. But the true issue was the off-ball switching on the weak-side. Gabe Vincent often found himself in the corner with Danie Theis spaced in the corner after an off-ball screen forced the switch. Now he dives, and it’s an easy bucket down low. That was the formula, and the storyline of the Heat’s first half defense.

#2: So, Tyler Herro is back.

Although the issues were the topic at the half for the Heat, Tyler Herro clearly found his groove. The one major surprise was that once he entered, the Celtics shifted into drop. And well, he couldn’t have asked for a better coverage change. As he says all the time, he loves drop coverage. So he began finding his mid-range pull-up early against guys like Williams and Theis, which quickly blended into some high PnR reps. Now it’s decision time for the defense, since the two outcomes are either a blitz or a triple. Herro looked both energized and comfortable with the ball in his hands right out the gate, but they still needed a bit more. But aside from everything, this type of confidence booster after the last series was all he needed to open himself up moving forward.

#3: PJ Tucker goes down for a few, Caleb Martin steps up. But something stood out about that early.

Walking away from game 7 between the Bucks and Celtics, there was a similar sentiment on Grant Williams after he caught fire. Early in the game, he struggled badly, leading into him passing up good looks. And the thing about that: it hurts your offense even more than taking the shot. The reason I bring that up is because Caleb Martin had moments like that. They’re going to dip off him when he’s off the floor, but if the shot clock is under 10, that shot has to go up. PJ Tucker went down in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury, but he didn’t stay down for long. He re-entered to start the second half, but the point about Martin still stands. We know what he can provide defensively in this series, but that’s something to track.

#4: The third quarter turnaround.

As much as I touched on the early defensive struggles, the Heat began to turn it around to begin the third. For one, Bam Adebayo sparked the entire team with a defensive masterclass. Denial on Brown at half-court, 7 seconds on the shot clock, Brown drives by, and Bam catches up to stuff it at the rim. Then Butler begins to join the defensive party, by getting back to back steals in the passing lanes for transition buckets. But more than anything, they began to find themselves offensively. Fearless Gabe Vincent got going as an on-ball creator, which blended into some scorers getting some relief buckets. What was once known as the turd quarter, became a pretty strong 12 minute stretch in game 1 of the ECF, scoring 39 points to the Celtics’ 14.


#5: Jimmy Butler: elite of the elite.

As this game began, it felt like he was drifting a bit. Miami couldn’t get into their usual actions, and Jimmy Butler was doing just enough to casually get by. But then he gradually started picking it up. As Miami finished the third quarter with a 17 point lead all of a sudden, Jimmy Butler found himself with a 31 point stat-line on 13 shot attempts. Simply, he dominates in some fashion. It isn’t highlight step backs or street ball crossovers, but he gets the job done with timely slots and a calculated foul drawing process. But the scoring wasn’t the story there. As I illustrated before, he turned the defense up midway through the third with back to back steals off pure passing lane dissection. He waits for the big to turn, then sprints. He’s one of the highest IQ defensive players in this game, but he’s also an elite leader as seen on this stage right now. And it took game 1 of the ECF for the national public to realize probably.


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The Miami Heat-Boston Celtics ECF Preview

So, the Eastern Conference Finals are officially set.

A rematch of the bubble ECF between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics will kick off on Tuesday in Miami at FTX Arena. But you aren’t here for location updates, I’m here to get right into the specifics of the series.

Before the game 7 was played between the Bucks and Celtics, I made sure to highlight one thing, since even Tyler Herro hinted at it at practice. The Celtics would favor Jimmy Butler, the Bucks would favor Tyler Herro. And if you’re going by that comment, maximizing your best player is the way to go.

Speaking of Herro’s comment at practice, he just slightly hedged in the direction of saying one coverage would be easier for him to operate in, which would clearly be the Bucks. Yet as good of a defense that the Celtics are, there are ways to change that for him…

Tyler Herro Beating the Switch

Before talking about guys like Butler and Adebayo, it feels like some need a calming start on Herro, due to the fact some are worried about this match-up for some reason. Saying the Bucks defense opens things up more doesn’t mean he’s going to be eliminated against the Celtics.

It just presents different challenges.

One of those challenges is switching a ton instead of finding pockets against drop. And before I even dive into the fact that drop openings will be there against this team as well, how will Herro deal with the switching wings and guards?

After watching those 3 clips above, there’s one primary takeaway: no screen, no blitz. Yes, I know we get caught up in the fact that Herro does need screens to get into his most comfortable play-style, but there will be times where he needs to just go.

Either getting a Payton Pritchard switch, or putting a bigger wing on their heels before stepping back, that has to be step one.

Seeing the amount of blitzes he saw against Philly, it was clearly a learning experience. Other teams watching that might say, ‘Hey, should we do the same?’ But at the same time, Jimmy Butler’s saying, ‘Okay, then I’ll do the same.’

It’s pretty much pick your poison, and the Celtics are such a sound defensive group that the focus won’t be on one guy, but if they do elect to start doubling, this can’t be the answer:

A blitz from this team will be much different than a 76er blitz. This team is lengthy, quick, and connected throughout.

I already know one of the main points that will be harped on starting tomorrow during film session will be Herro getting the ball out early when this is seen. Keep this Celtics group moving, since when you begin to slow down and hold the ball, they’ve already beat you.

But once again, me starting out this piece pointing out what Herro might have to deal with is not saying this isn’t his series. Actually, it’s saying the opposite.

They’re going to need a high level half-court scoring Herro in this series, and he’s had success against them on the big stage referring back to that 37 point bubble performance.

But if you’re worried about the switches onto him, what if his counter isn’t to deal with switches?

The DHO series?

To tie in the previous points, the Celtics still have versatile bigs who will dip back in drop, while also containing at a high level. The Bucks may give up a lot of threes, but the Celtics rely on a lot of perimeter screen chasing against a Heat team that is constantly moving.

And what is the product of many of their movement sets? Well, a dribble hand-off.

Looking at the first clip above, Al Horford is in drop and Jaylen Brown goes over the screen. That’s a win for the Heat.

2 on 1 for Bam and Herro leads to a lob pass, ending in a Bam dunk. The point of this is that using Bam as a screener for Herro will be even more important than usual. There’s another combo that I’m going to discuss next, but the Bam-Herro PnR may be back in action for another round.

Just like in the third and final clip above, it isn’t a hand-off that’s being run, but it’s an empty corner PnR for Herro. Not to sound like a repeat of games 1 and 2 of last series, but providing less abilities to help over on Herro is the main goal.

Now the defender goes over, and it’s a Herro floater.


But this isn’t all about Herro, the hand-off element is about the shooters collectively. Jimmy Butler averaged the most points a night against the Celtics for the Heat this season at 22 PPG, but do you know who was right behind him?

Max Strus.

He scored 21 PPG, including a pretty memorable 3 block 4th quarter the last time these teams faced off. But most importantly, the hand-off dissection will be an important element from him this series, which is actually something he worked on a ton in practice Sunday morning.

This type of stuff is the add-on element, but now, the stars are the main dish at this stage.

Jimmy Butler: slip, slip, slip

Sitting here in a preview talking about Jimmy Butler’s foul drawing, inside scoring, and post-up turnarounds feels rather obvious after watching 11 games of it already.

So, what is the adjustment for him specifically?

Well, look out for him being used as a screener.

It makes it a little bit more tough if the team is without Kyle Lowry, since there aren’t many people better suited for finding Butler on the roll than Lowry, but there will still be advantages.

In the clip above, knowing the Celtics are going to switch, Butler slips, Lowry lobs, and it ends in a bucket down low. That will be there constantly, but I guess the question will be if Gabe Vincent can make that pass consistently.

(And I have a feeling Lowry will be in Vincent’s ear a ton about making that read)

We know what Butler is at this stage. We know what he’s going to provide on the offensive side of the floor. The one thing we don’t know, and what opposing teams don’t know, is where he’s going to generate those points specifically.

Butler will be Butler, but beating switches with a slip will be a focal point.

Bam Adebayo: Watch for Advantages

When some were predicting that the Bucks would take it against the Celtics in game 7, a consistent thing was being thrown around: Brook Lopez and the need for Adebayo’s jumper.

The traumatizing state of last year’s playoffs had people worried about that specific match-up, since it’s undeniable that Bam’s jumper was going to be needed.

Now that the Celtics advance, I’m not sure that’s as primary a focus as we originally thought.

Yes, he indeed has to be aggressive, but in a much different fashion. As I’ve portrayed over and over in this piece, the Celtics are a heavy switching defense. With that said, if Bam begins to get smaller wings or guards on his back, that match-up can’t be neutral.

It simply can’t.

Looking at the clip above, I wouldn’t say that’s the best example with the way he faded away on the post up, but the point still stands. If a Jaylen Brown-type is on his back in that low post, the shot must go up.

His defense is so valuable that it almost cancels out his offense at times, but now that this Heat team finds themselves 4 wins away from another trip to the NBA finals, they’re going to need their second best player to be an offensive threat.

Simply, a threat that’ll capitalize on advantages.

Defensive Match-Ups

Before I talk about game-plan, let me address some individual match-ups that I would expect to see. A lot of this is pointless with Miami’s switching, but this is something I’d look for out the gate:

Marcus Smart -> Gabe Vincent

Jaylen Brown -> Jimmy Butler

Jayson Tatum -> PJ Tucker

Grant Williams -> Max Strus

Al Horford -> Bam Adebayo

Yes I know that Robert Williams coming back will change things, but considering the five we saw from Boston today, this would be my expectation. Placing Tucker on Tatum feels like an obvious conclusion, but like usual, Bam Adebayo is the defensive X-Factor.

Something the Heat did a ton of the last time they played Boston was use him as a weak-side action wrecker instead of the pure switch guy. That meant the corner three would be sacrificed at times, but Brown or Tatum wouldn’t have an easy driving game once boosting by that perimeter defender.

Aside from Erik Spoelstra finger-pointing, I think we see exactly what we saw from them defensively against Philly. You may be wondering, why in the world would they keep the same game-plan?

Well, they wouldn’t. They would just be combining the approaches from games 1 to 6.

Nothing was consistent on that side of the ball for Miami all series. Soft switching in game 1 blended into pure drop coverage by game 6. I think this is a series where you can get away with the switching at times, which Miami will rely on a ton, but they now have a counter in their back pocket.

Keeping Bam closer to the rim in drop showed very positive results in terms of keeping the ball in front of him. He can be very impactful in the switching scheme, but now that it is adjustment time in the playoffs, teams like to find ways to pull him all the way to the deep corner to eliminate him.

But now, they have options.

And speaking of options, there’s one minor schematic focus that’ll be seen. If the ball isn’t being worked through Tatum or Brown in the primary action, Jimmy Butler will free-lance.

Once the Celtics begin to operate in the middle of the floor through their bigs, Butler will be smirking on that back-side since he knows he will probably have 2 points on the other end if he times it right.

This may not seem like a major deal, but I’m sure it’ll be noticed throughout this series.

Some Underrated X-Factors

Lastly, I’d like to highlight two Heat players that can end up being high level, yet underrated, X-Factors in this series.

We know about the need for Butler, Bam, and Herro as talked about earlier. Shooters will be important generally as well. But who will be the guy to get those shooters going?

Well that guy is former All-Star Victor Oladipo.

He silently had a killer series against the 76ers last round even with the teams’ ups and downs, and this is a match-up that could favor him even more. Aside from matching up with guys like Brown or pressuring full court on the defensive end, he could be the piece to bend this Celtics defense.

The first element is rim pressure that we bring up so often. Butler provides a ton of it. So much that defenses like the Celtics will over-commit, leading to a kick to an open guy as the rotations begin for the defense.

Swing-swing-swing, and oh, the defense recovered. Do you know how that is bypassed? A second rim pressure threat. Swing-swing-swing becomes swing-swing-drive, and the outcome looks a whole lot different.

Other than that primary factor, switches could mean more reliance on Oladipo as a shot creator. We’ve gotten flashes of his bag off the dribble, and I think we see more of that in this series. Or at least, it’ll be an offensive focus to increase the frequency of it.

My other X-Factor in this series, though, is actually Caleb Martin. Lowry most likely being out means Vincent will be starting, which also means the Heat either shrink to 8 or look for that 9th guy.

Now that we’re nearing the end, a lot of guys will see slight decreases in their minutes, but Caleb Martin will be a useful tool in this series. With all of the Celtics lengthy wings, throwing Martin out there to pressure them seems like a clear option.

Some may say that Duncan Robinson could be utilized, hinting back to my section on the DHO surge, but I personally don’t see it. At this point, it’s no secret that this series will be a defensive dog fight, and they aren’t going to look to counter that with one-way players like himself.

Aside from the X’s and O’s, this should be a fun series for basketball lovers. Two high level defenses going at it, while coaches on both sides send counter punches in opposite directions.

Looking at the Bucks falling short as Giannis Antetokounmpo sat on the bench breathing heavy as time expired in game 7, something stood out majorly: a one man show of arguably the best player in the world couldn’t take down this Celtics team.

The Heat are going to need everybody.


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The Tyler Herro Counters Coming Against Philly

Physicality, blitzing, elimination. Those have been the primary keys from the 76ers in terms of stopping Tyler Herro after he dominated in games 1 and 2.

It has now turned into a best of 3 series, since it’s the first team to grab two wins. The formula appears to be rather simple: don’t shoot 17% from three over 3 quarters and a half. Plus limiting a 49% 3-ball on the other side will be a good start.

But as much as the two games in Philly have been about hitting open shots, it’s clear that an adjustment is trending for the 6th man of the year winner, Tyler Herro.

Looking through the film of the Heat’s game 4 loss, some things really jumped off the screen when he was leading an action. The 76ers have thrown their punch at him, so what is his counter punch heading back down to Miami?

Well, let’s take a look at just that…

For starters, I must begin with the soft spots of Philly’s defense since Joel Embiid returned. The main one has been that the 2-3 zone has to be an indication to feed Herro the ball.

I will get into the blitzing of the PnR coverages, but the zone provides the most simplicity when Herro has the ball in his hands. Wait for the screen, get to the middle of the floor, and make a play with either your jumper or your gravity.

Embiid isn’t playing too high in the zone, yet Herro reacts anyway by pulling right after Matisse Thybulle is eliminated by the screen. Quick pull, quick bucket.

He had some opportunities in this game just like this that he didn’t capitalize on, but you’ll take these shots over and over make or miss. As Jimmy Butler said after the game, “We’re gonna take the same shots next game, and they’re gonna fall.”

That may be a positive outlook on the situation, but for Herro specifically, that must be the mindset.

The other release valve since Embiid returned has been to play like you did in games 1 and 2, when the opposing lineup looks like it did in games 1 and 2.

By that I mean Herro and Adebayo have proven to elevate their games when Embiid is off the floor. Adebayo begins to attack a bit more, and Herro doesn’t see the same on-ball pressure that Embiid provides.

Looking at this play in particular, some scramble switches allow Herro to flow into a hand-off with a double screen, getting probably his best look of the night. There are openings within both the zone and Paul Reed minutes, and he must take advantage.

But it isn’t about seizing the good times. It’s about overcoming the rough times.

A lot of this will have to be reaction based, since as much as Philly’s game-plan is to speed Herro up, the game-plan from Herro individually has to be: wait for them to make a mistake.

Looking at this play, Embiid hedges left on the screen as if Herro will refuse it, as Tyrese Maxey simultaneously goes over on the high PnR instead of under. Now Herro finally has some running room to operate in some type of an open floor.

Slight hesitation allows Herro to slip by Embiid to get to the rim, utilizing a flashy up and under on the right side while using the rim as protection. When they’re in regular drop, it’s a win for Herro and Miami. He can get to his spots, he isn’t being sped up, and they’re the ones dictating.

But the issue is that’s the Philly adjustment we’re discussing. This specific type of drop hasn’t been seen often against Herro.

Herro walks the ball up the floor and finds himself trapped right inside the half court line and the sideline. Embiid hedging the screen to eliminate a hard push right from Herro, while Maxey leads him right into it.

Bam rolls, Embiid slides back, yet the angle stays the same. They want to funnel Herro into a crowded lane.

He changes direction as he crosses left, and Embiid stays consistent with the ball again. Yes Herro’s getting to the middle of the floor, but so are 3 of the 76ers’ defenders. A kick-out is the outcome, which ends in a contested Oladipo three.


He wasn’t getting an overwhelming amount of PnR ball-handler reps in this one, but the ones he got looked rushed. Like I said, they were speeding him up, which trends into stuff like this…

Screen. blitz, back-side tag, turnover. PJ Tucker in that corner is pretty much the open slot when this is seen, as Harden is forced to drop down on the rolling Adebayo, but Philly will live with Herro having to make that pass all night.

But what do you believe is the main issue with this play?

Butler not backing up to catch the retreat pass? Bam not finding an open gap? Herro picking up his dribble?

Wrong. It’s actually the spacing within the action for Herro, specifically in the strong-side corner. How can Miami throw the counter punch at Philly’s constant blitzing at Herro? Well, you turn that bundled up strong-side action into an empty corner.

Now things are spread, Embiid has more ground to cover, and Herro can potentially find an angle using the baseline to his strengths. The problem with the recent blitzing isn’t the two in the action itself, it’s actually the helper.

Here’s a quick example: Tucker in the weak-side dunker spot, Oladipo in the corner, Lowry on the wing. Herro makes the entry pass to Butler with Embiid defending him, then flows into the hand-off on that wing.

This isn’t much of a blitz like before, but Embiid is still forced to play higher in that drop. Now Herro has more room since there’s no help defender to hedge at him, and a baseline leaner is the product of it.

The same would go for a blitz in this situation. Then it’s just about Herro beating Embiid to the spot baseline and making a play off the attack. There are many counters to the blitzes, but it’s going to start with empty corner pick and rolls over the next few games of the series.

That’s the primary element to watch for.

Yet while that’s the focus of the side pick and rolls, there still must be a way to alter the deep blitzes at half-court when they flow into a high pick and roll.

One of the major shifts that feels kind of important: setting the screen a bit lower. Usually when we talk about Herro, you say setting the screen higher is more effective to stretch out the floor North and South, giving him more room to operate.

But right now, the higher the screen, the more they’re forcing him into East and West movements due to that blitzing we’re discussing.

So, what does setting the screen lower do when Embiid is in the action? Well, if they blitz, it gives you more room for a retreat dribble. The reason turnovers are more willing to happen is due to the passing coming in tight windows. Retreating back a step before making the pass creates chaos on that back-side once the pass is made, since the court just got a lot bigger for the 4-on-3.

In the play above, Herro just picks up his dribble. That allows Embiid to circle back and recover, yet when Herro swings, it’s basically a total reset. The dribble must be kept alive, and stop allowing the 76ers defense to get back to home-base for them.

Lastly, when a team is mixing up coverages this often on a certain player, miscommunications will occur. Right here Embiid drops back as Thybulle thinks he will stay high. Herro finds himself much more open than he could’ve imagined, yet couldn’t capitalize.

Those are the shots that will begin to fall, especially at home.

But if I can just punch this point home one last time, the clear-out by Oladipo to the strong-side corner in the play above is the reason I talk about the empty corner stuff.

Once he plants in that corner, Herro is forced to pick up his dribble since there’s no room to operate off an attack. There are plenty of actions that’ll be run, and I’m just looking under a microscope of one player at the moment, but this will be the key.

Guys will begin hitting shots from deep, and 7 of 35 from deep will most likely be an outlier, but this team is going to need a high level Tyler Herro to win the next 2 of 3 games.

They’ve gotten elite level Jimmy Butler. But it appears that he needs that second scoring punch to overcome the rough shooting from the supporting cast. Herro can be the one to get that done, and frankly, he may need to in order to comfortably close this thing out.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over 76ers in Game Two

The Miami Heat came into game 2 with a similar mindset, and closed it out in a similar fashion.

Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo copy and pasted dominance. Jimmy Butler playing master facilitator. And the Heat defense swarming at all times.

So, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Bam Adebayo in early attack mode is always a welcoming sign.

As much as we sit around and discuss the fact that Bam Adebayo has a favorable matchup against the 76ers, Bam himself is very aware of that internally. Entering these games, he knows that he will have advantages, especially after the PnR dominance with Tyler Herro, and he came out attacking yet again. Herro kept feeding him in that high pocket to give him a runway, and not only did that lead to positive offensive, but it put him in a position to consistently get to the line. Once he gets some early foul calls, you always see that mental shift where he begins to drive more. Plus it should be noted that his defensive willingness was felt. No matter who he switched on, the immediate reaction was to clear. He creates a 4-on-4 match at times, which is a special trait.

#2: Heat going more zone, Philly going less zone.

Heading into this series, one of the main things I highlighted in my preview was the “battle of the zones.” Both had very valuable reasons to utilize it, and the 76ers obviously got the first real crack at it. In the second quarter of game one, it gave Miami real trouble. Nobody was flashing middle, they weren’t able to get into the primary actions, and it allowed certain matchups to not be exploited. But now, the Heat were waiting to adjust. They consequently went to it less to begin this game, but Miami increased the frequency on their end. Pressuring with Oladipo and Martin in the 2-2-1 which blends into the 2-3. Usually the release valve was that Tobias Harris gets into a post up on the low box, which was okay with them as he shot 3 of 11 in the first half. Never should it be gone to for too long, but it’s something to monitor in this series.

#3: Tyler Herro continues to love the matchup and coverages.

Looking at Tyler Herro in the first half of this game, I could pretty much copy and paste most of the stuff I said in game 1. High PnR dominance, making the right reads and passes, and scoring whenever he chooses as he eyes the back line defender. The only difference though tonight, he was eyeing the initial defender a bit more often. Instead of focusing on the next read, he keyed in on the current one. That usually meant a quick pull up off the screen, a snake dribble inside once Jordan began playing higher, etc etc. The point is that we’re aware he can score the basketball at a high level and can exploit this defense, but mixing up reads isn’t easy at his age. But yet, he’s a natural in that space.

#4: Jimmy Butler controlling the game through every lens.

After as dominant of a first round series as humanly possible for Jimmy Butler, he seemed to fully hand the keys to Bam and Herro in game 1 against Philly, for obvious reasons. But in this game, his scoring around the rim was coming much more naturally than it did in game 1. Yet, I’m not focused on the scoring. We know he can get to his spots and dominate most matchup advantages on the floor. But without Kyle Lowry, he stepped up big time in terms of total control. Halfway through the third, he had 10 assists logged and it was all on the natural flow of the offense. And looking away from schematics and into natural fandom, as a Philly fan behind us at the game chanted at the team all game, it flowed into “We still love you Jimmy,” late in the third. He can have that hold on you I guess.


#5: Victor Oladipo combinations steadily improving.

Looking at game 1 under a microscope, the Victor Oladipo combinations were a bit different than we’ve seen. Instead of running his own lineups when Butler was out, he found himself running next to both Butler and Herro pretty often. They were a bit shaky to start since he was being used primarily as an off-ball threat in the corner, but they blended him on the ball a bit more in this game tonight. This offensive flow won’t just click over night, but the thing about it: it doesn’t have to. We can hone in on that all we want, but the truth is that his defense on top players makes any combination work. When you can do to James Harden what he did in this game, it’s clear something is going right.


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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over 76ers in Game One

The Miami Heat kicked off round 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, and although there were minor bumps in the road, they really took care of business.

After struggling in round 1, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo really took control of this game. Together.

But as much as they’re the focus, PJ Tucker put them in this position under the radar.

Anyway, here are my takeaways from this one…

#1: The early, early offensive approach for Miami: Herro-Bam high PnR.

Before I discuss the offense in the first half big picture, I must first address what was working. After Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo had rough first round series, it was clear coming into this one that this match-up could favor them greatly. The drop is there for Herro to attack, and Adebayo has the size advantage over anybody not named DeAndre Jordan. So, Miami quickly evolved into high PnR madness with those two when Jordan or Paul Millsap were sitting in that drop. Herro’s able to create attention through his drop instinct once passing the three-point line, which transitioned into open lanes for Bam as a roller since nobody could stick him. That was when offense was peaking. But then, it declined. Rapidly.

#2: The offensive drought that followed…

Now, to enter the problematic parts of this Heat offense, it went from executed offensive sets that were clearly intentional heading in, into a whole lot of randomness in that second quarter. Miami began blending into forced drives and more forced drives until an open man was found. Yes, that’s the complete recap. They were no longer looking at Adebayo roaming baseline who would find a perfect deep seal. Combine that with shooting 25% from three in the first 24 minutes and you have yourself an issue. Butler had the jumper fall early with back to back mid-ranges when they went under the screen and a standstill three, but that turned into tough fade-away jumpers with wings guarding him. That’s fine against Maxey, but forced against others. It was clear at that point, adjustments were needed coming out of the half.

#3: Should we take a second for extra PJ Tucker appreciation.

In the first round against the Atlanta Hawks, after Butler, PJ Tucker was the most important player in the series. And well, he wasted no time in this one. Immediately picking James Harden up full court, switching and helping down low, while dominating as that weak-side help guy at the nail. When looking for the answers to Philly’s early scoring trouble, it was all PJ Tucker. But the reason I bring up the word appreciation is that while his defense was evident, he played a big role offensively. Yes he was 2 of 6 from the field with 5 points at half, but most of the Heat’s first half runs included him providing second chances and playing the “Bam role” at the 5. Then to start the third, it was even more Tucker. Forcing turnovers, creating for Bam off the slip and dime, hitting tough shots, and most importantly, getting them second chance opportunities. He’s been outstanding.

#4: Bam Adebayo showing up big time.

As I hinted at before when I mentioned the Herro-Bam dynamic, this could potentially be a Bam series before the Embiid return. There are mismatches all over the floor, for both face-ups against slower guys like Jordan or post-ups against smaller guys like Millsap. After being utilized a ton early than disappearing in that second quarter since they weren’t finding him, he began to be found to start the third when they went on their run. The point is not to harp of Bam’s shocking scoring punch in this one. It’s to showcase that he needs to be used like a top player on this team on the offensive side of the ball. I can understand aggression conversations, but there’s a point where he should be consistently have sets run for him. Whether it’s on the ball with guards screening, or backdoor stuff to feed him with mismatches down low, it’s the key to Miami taking that next step on this playoff run.


#5: The real reason the Heat are true contending threats.

When looking at this Heat team in the first round, there were glaring holes. Herro wasn’t himself, Adebayo wasn’t being used, Lowry going down changed things. Moving onto game 1 tonight, Butler wasn’t great, shooters were inconsistent, Oladipo lineups were in the mud frequently while finding themselves. Yet through all of that, the Heat keep finding ways to win. How? Well, I’m glad you ask: this Heat defense is stifling. They can go through a second quarter span where they forget how to run offense, yet still come out even. They have enough bodies to throw at any position 1 through 5, created a helping scheme due to the team being elite with rotations, and found a way to stop top talents. So, back to why this team is a true contender. Combining a defense that is elite of the elite with an offense that can go on wild runs is a good enough to be in that top tier.


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Heat-76ers Second Round Playoffs Preview

The Miami Heat-Philadelphia 76ers second round series shifted majorly over the last day or so, and it’s much bigger than just a change in the injury report. When a guy of Joel Embiid’s caliber is predicted to be out indefinitely with an orbital fracture, it forces a total change in the schematics both offensively and defensively.

Yes, it’s possible that he could end up returning at some point. But coming back in game 3 as Miami would have a hopeful 2-0 lead, means that Philly would have to win 4 of their next 5. Clearly not an easy path.

It isn’t a free injury report on the Heat’s side though either, since it still isn’t really expected that Kyle Lowry plays to kick off the series. Yet as we’ve seen, they’ve got guys ready to step up.

On the defensive side of the ball, like I said, there’s a total change in plans. Instead of worrying about the stress Embiid puts on the defense inside, it’s a full turnaround back to perimeter play.

And well, the Heat have had pretty good luck with that plan as of late.

Is it as simple as saying keeping execution similar to the Trae Young game-plan? Eh, I wouldn’t go that far. In simple terms they will blitz out in similar fashion, force the ball out of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey’s hands, and force the surrounding cast to beat them.

This will be an offensive based outlook piece, but I must start this off with some of the expected match-ups defensively.

It’s possible that the 76ers go small with guys like Paul Reed and Paul Millsap, but it feels inevitable that they blend right into DeAndre Jordan. Bam Adebayo will get that match-up on paper, but with the switching scheme, he won’t see much time on him.

PJ Tucker will start out on James Harden, not just because he can generally slow down his ex-teammate, but since that Tucker-Adebayo PnR switch can be abused even more. Now Adebayo is on Harden while Tucker waits to double down low as Jordan plants in the dunker spot, which is a win-win for the Heat.

But the other three 1-on-1 match-ups could get tricky. It’s pretty easy to say Maxey-Vincent, Green-Strus, and Butler-Harris, but I see other possibilities. Yes, that may be the initial look, but keep an eye out for Miami pressuring Tobias Harris into being a primary force with a “mismatch.”

Just like they did with Gallinari and Collins, putting a Lowry, Vincent, or Strus on him can work when the guy isn’t a true inside powerhouse. The goal is to force the opposing offense to worry about feeding him constantly, which plays into their scheme.

This would now allow Jimmy Butler to size down to Tyrese Maxey, which is ultimately the goal. Just like he did down the stretch in the final match-up, he will be searching for Herro’s and Strus’ off the switches.

But can I tell you the difference in a planned playoff series?

Jordan in place of Embiid means those switches won’t be as easily operated. There will be dip off opportunities to pressure him, which circles back to wanting that Tucker switch down to the box.

So, aside from all of those Erik Spoelstra adjustments to the adjustments that are coming, let’s take a bit of a look into some of the offensive stuff that will be a primary focus. Much of this is the three primary players on this Heat squad, but let’s start off with the soft spot in the defense…

Corner Shooters Getting a Call

We talked a lot about spot-up shooting in the last series against the Hawks, since the goal was to put pressure on the defense as much as possible, since once they were forced into rotations, Atlanta was basically in a horrible spot because now it’s swing-swing-drive-kick.

For this series it isn’t the same factors. It isn’t about moving East and West to force rotations. It’s about moving North and South to force the pull-down.

Looking at the first clip above, this is the base look. Four guys spaced out on the perimeter with one screener coming out.

Vincent and Dedmon run the pick and roll, Maxey slides down, and now it’s a kick to Strus for the open corner three. By design, this Philly defense will consistently help down heavily for tags, which calls for constant on-ball threats who can create for others. (Hello Victor Oladipo)

It’s one thing for the primary shooting threats to take advantage of their open opportunities, but how about when Philly’s adjustments become making a certain guy work?

And well, when a team has threats all over the floor to open up, PJ Tucker is going to be the guy they choose to sag off of. Looking at the second clip above, we can see the beauty in slowly backing down to that bottom box.

Part of this play had to do with the scramble switches happening all over, leaving Maxey on Adebayo, since a quick slip and feed down low led to an easy bucket. But forgetting the outcome of this play, just look at Tucker in that weak-side corner.

That extra kick will constantly be sitting there in this series. I’m going to talk about the main guys contributions now, but it’s not crazy to say that a big Tucker/Strus game could be enough to keep Miami’s offense afloat.

Jimmy Butler’s Jumper Being a Shift?

Jimmy Butler has been shooting the ball extremely well from deep down the stretch of the season, and he knocked down 7 threes on 44% shooting in the opening series.

The other part of his game that looked elite over that 5 game span was his driving game. He shot 30 of 41 less than 10 feet from the rim, just through complete dominance and control off the attack.

Yet if we were picking out the very minor section of negatives in his shot profile so far, the mid-range pull-up wasn’t at its best in that period of time. So far in the playoffs, he’s taken 23 middy pull-ups, while only knocking down 7 of them.

That’s 30%.

I’m not mentioning this to say that’s a major worry, but it’s to say that’s the shot that’ll be sitting there for him to take all series long.

Let me start with the obvious: getting away from the “pull-up” aspect of it for a second, there’s nothing Butler loves more than a post-up with a small on his back. Not because he enjoys overpowering them with size, but due to the fact he can shoot over the top of them with ease.

Maxey will be the guy he’s eyeing all series. In that first clip, it’s bump-bump-turn-rise up. Pretty simple formula for him, but I guess that’s the hope for opening up the deeper momentum pull-up game.

He wasn’t asked to attack smalls as much in the opening series as I personally expected. He definitely went to it, but the spam wasn’t needed since the overall offense was flowing for the Heat all series long.

Going back to that second clip above, you’ll notice something immediately: yes you may see a tough Bam bucket in traffic, but the screen navigation from the action has been pretty consistent.

They’re going to go under.

If Jimmy Butler can knock down that specific shot early in the series, it’ll honestly be a hard thing to both adjust and recover to, since it basically blows up the whole defensive plan.

Once you’re being asked to fight over screens against Butler, that’s when he has you. He can keep you on his back, go 2-on-1, and convert or get fouled on almost every trip. It’s one of his strengths.

And as Erik Spoelstra said after practice Friday when I asked him about the Philly match-up, “It’s about who can get to who. Who can get to whose strengths.”

Tyler Herro is on Philly’s Mind. Yet it Still Falls into their Hands.

Tyler Herro didn’t have the greatest first round offensive series, but guess what: it wasn’t supposed to be a Herro series. As noted before that opening round, it was a time for Butler to turn it up with the defense falling into his strengths, and a match-up for shooters to prosper.

Both happened.

Yet now it’s pretty clear that this match-up will allow one thing with or without Embiid: Tyler Herro to shine.

No matter if it’s Embiid or Jordan standing under that rim, Herro will be eyeing that elbow to get open shot after open shot. But actually, the 76ers won’t allow that either.

When zooming out a bit from numbers, I personally felt that some of Herro’s most promising moments came against Philly this season.

Why is that? Well, Philly had adjustments for him. It was that they wanted to chase him as much as possible to make him uncomfortable. Yet Herro had in-game adjustments for those adjustments, and never seemed in any form of discomfort.

Looking at the clips above, it’s two huge examples of smart, instinctive basketball plays off the ball. First one looks like he’s going to flow into a hand-off from Butler out of the post split, but he dips on that idea quickly. Swift cut, catch and settle, and now it’s an easy one hand floater in the middle of the floor. Yeah, right where he wants to be.

Fast forwarding to the last match-up, we saw something similar. These aren’t coincidental occurrences. It’s watching enough film to know how the defense will treat you. Or better yet, recognizing that the defense knows you fit into their defensive weaknesses, so it’s the initial adjustment.

In that second clip, Herro sets the baseline screen for Butler so Tucker can make the entry pass. Herro appears to be clearing out, but then out of nowhere, he changes direction and finds space under the rim as Butler finds him.

I’ll say it again: this will be a Herro series. On the surface we can acknowledge the drop, but when diving in deeper, it’s about the responses available. (Plus speaking of responses, though Herro was abused late in that game defensively, they now have the all defense late-game adjustment in their pocket if needed.)

Looking at the winnable match-ups for Bam Adebayo……….Oh, All of Them

When entering the offensive tablet of Bam Adebayo’s scoring approach in a particular series, it usually starts in the same department of actions that should be run.

Finding ways for guards to screen for him as he is the headliner of a certain set, allowing him to find favorable switches off the attack.

For instance, that would be the mindset heading into a first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, yet in this Philly match-up, it isn’t about finding the mismatches. They’re already sitting there ready to be taken.

Like I said earlier, Jordan would probably be the big that slots in for Embiid, but other than him, it’s a whole bunch of smaller options at the 5. Reed is next up, Millsap behind him, maybe some Georges Niang thrown in there as well?

The point is that Adebayo doesn’t have the all around size advantage like this on many occasions. So this is the time to take advantage.

Looking at the two clips above, he showed in the latest match-up without Embiid that he wasn’t afraid to go at these match-ups. Embracing the bump off the face-up against Niang for the bucket, then bodying Millsap until a wide open lane opened up for him.

Those two clips are fun examples, but I think the obvious tweak would be not to turn into that face-up too early. Don’t bail out the opposing defender by letting them recover. Using some of that shoulder size to get a deep seal and operate in that low post will be ideal for this series.

Not having Lowry early on makes this a tad tougher since he’s the guy that can constantly feed him in those spots, but now the next person to set him up on the roster will have to be the coaching staff.

Instead of placing him higher in the offense to run actions or drive down the right slot, this may be an early sign to let him screen, roll, and baseline roam before finding position on either block. Last series was one that I labeled as a perimeter one, yet this has the chance at being quite the opposite. Well, at least until the Embiid injury status shifts.

Battle of the Zones?

Finally, I wanted to close this thing out with one of my additional thoughts. We know Miami has the option to go to their 2-3 zone, which is even more likely when Vincent and Martin share the floor together, but it feels like there will be some extra openings for that to be used.

For one, Miami potentially going small early in the series without Embiid could blend into this idea as well.

We saw it really flatten out Philly’s guards early in the season, which by the way, it must be noted that “Philly’s guards” did not include James Harden all season long which could make prep a bit more layered.

When I say flattened out, the non-Harden minutes could lead to stagnant movement North and South. There’s no big down low to begin their action with, meaning it’s a whole lot of reliance on Harris mid-range play and Maxey highlight maneuvers.

For example here, if you look at the second clip first, the stagnant perimeter standing is on display. This isn’t a zone possession for Miami, but it gives you an idea of how this can counteract some of the 76ers’ lineups.

Now it allows guys like Martin and Vincent to operate as free safeties when the ball swings to the corner or deep wing, which is exactly the move Miami’s defense wants you to make.

The reason this could be the “battle of the zones” is due to the 76ers playing a good amount of it in past Miami-Philly match-ups this year. In the first clip above, the defense was pretty much out of place from the start, but it’s a good showing of why Miami likes this look.

They can just play the back-line. One of the main themes of Martin’s good games the past 3 times he faced the 76ers was because of his baseline roaming. All that is needed, as seen above, is one entry pass in-between that low man and the big in the middle.

Once that pass is made, a guy like Tucker or Butler can facilitate from there as the defense is forced to turn their backs on the play. Butler throws the bounce pass in the middle, Adebayo lays it in with ease. And that’s with* Embiid sitting in the middle.


This should be a pretty intriguing series with or without Embiid, and I’m not saying through pure competitiveness, but just simply the adjustment battle that will take place after the Heat just leveled off Young in the series prior.

“There is no 9 man rotation right now. This is a playoff rotation,” Erik Spoelstra said back in Atlanta about a week ago. The reason that’s true is while they do like to rotate 9, it’s probably going to be different from game one to game two. And even crazier, it’ll probably be different from the second quarter to the third quarter.

But if I had to give my expected nine to open up game one, I’d say the starters would look like: Vincent-Strus-Butler-Tucker-Adebayo, while the bench is Herro-Oladipo-Robinson-Martin. Yet if they want to counter some of Philly’s small lineups with a big, or just want extra rebounding, Dewayne Dedmon will be waiting to provide competent minutes.

My quick recap though: if that drop big is sitting there, spam the dribble hand-offs with shooters like Strus and Robinson. When they go small, run sets for Adebayo to feast in the low post. And well, go to Tyler Herro a lot. He will have plenty of advantages in the gaps of this defense, and I’m sure that he will be the shining piece in this round.


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