Tag Archive for: Tyler Herro

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Pistons

And it gets worse.

The Heat fall to the Pistons at home, following up their worst loss of the season…with this.

I dive into game specifics here, good and bad, but this game means so much more than X’s and O’s.

But anyways, some takeaways:

#1: Tyler Herro’s perfect first half.

21 points, 7 for 7 from the field, 2 for 2 from three, 5 for 5 from the line. That was the stat-line for Tyler Herro at the half, on a night where he felt like the one and only engine in the half-court. He was getting into his bag a good bit, finding some baseline turnarounds, quick crossovers (that made Bogdanovic fall), and hitting the pull-up consistently. But more importantly, he was doing all of this at a very controlled pace. Slowly trotting through the lane into the floater may be a product of this Pistons’ defense, but it also showcases his growth. His scoring is finding that rhythm once again, after he eased back with early play-making over that specific stretch.

#2: Kyle Lowry words are necessary: about a very certain skill.

While we’ve been glued to watching the zone defense for a good bit, switching is still naturally their base. I know many of you guys scream at your screen when seeing a Heat guard on the back of an opposing big, since that was a trend for a while. But if that Heat guard is Kyle Lowry, hold your anger. I simply haven’t seen anything like Kyle Lowry’s post feel, no matter if he’s fronting or just guarding straight up. He knows the timing of when to spin into fronting position, but he’s also strong enough to hold off that offensive player before the help comes. He ended up with 5 steals at the half, and it was basically surrounded by this exact iteration. A serious skill.

#3: The bench still being routed in the scoring column.

If you looked at the box score at the half tonight, you would see a lot of minuses on the Heat’s bench and a bunch of pluses on the Pistons’ bench. To put into simpler terms, the Heat had 1 made field goal at the half from their reserves. Yes it may be a different look in the bench unit with Nikola Jovic filling for Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo coming back, and Duncan Robinson getting minutes, but the point remains the same. As much as I talk about Herro being the engine, they need to get back to that reliance on “depth,” especially with Butler and Lowry’s expected time off. When things go back to normal, that’ll be a lot on Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to truly grab a hold of. And well, Victor Oladipo now too…

#4: Victor Oladipo’s debut.

Victor Oladipo is back…again. It feels like we’ve had the “debut” quick a few times over his three season tenure, but that’s because we have. As he entered tonight, we quickly saw something Erik Spoelstra wanted to get an immediate eye on: the ball pressure. They vastly fell right into the 2-2-1 press, which backed into the 2-3 zone, per usual. To be honest, I would’ve liked to see more of a switching look when he was out there, just because I’m interested in how the one-on-one stuff looks exactly, but I guess we will save that for another time. He definitely wasn’t pressing too much offensively early, since it was a lot of direct drives and spot-up standing, but we saw an uptick in the 4th with those two exact elements. Pretty typical opening game, since some rust was expected.

#5: Rock bottom?

After proclaiming a horrible loss in Memphis by far the worst loss of the season for the Heat, they follow that up with this performance on the second night of a back to back against the Detroit Pistons. Zone, man, whatever. This transcends X’s and O’s at the moment. They just don’t have the energy on nights like this that is necessary. Last year when undermanned, this team played with max urgency when the team wasn’t even in a position to panic. Now the defense is leaking everywhere without containment, and the offense just doesn’t have anything to give if it’s not a Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo led set. This team clearly has issues right now. And there’s not one singular thing to point your finger at.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss in Memphis

The Miami Heat faced a very different looking Grizzlies team in Memphis, and treated it like so.

After an early offensive punch, they never gained that rhythm back. Other than Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin, they weren’t getting much more on the roster.

So, here are some takeaways from this loss…

#1: Caleb Martin’s early hot streak.

That Heat first half went in a few different directions. An early 7-0 run for the Grizzlies transitioned into a 28-10 run for the Heat, then back to a Grizzlies hot streak the rest of the half. While I’m going to discuss the Grizzlies runs in a minute, I do have to mentioned Caleb Martin’s addition to that run. Miami began running a ton of drive and kicks, as Martin just took advantage of Memphis sagging off. He hit four triples early in the game, continually stepping into his jumper with complete rhythm. Plus it’s evident that he’s elite at reading the positioning of his individual defender. If that defenders’ body is turned, he’s attacking the front foot. If they bite on the jab, he’s immediately pulling. His reads just keep impressing.

#2: The Heat’s need for paint touches and paint points.

36 to 8. That was the deficit in paint points for the Miami Heat at the half, against a Grizzlies team who should be doing the exact opposite without their core guys. As Miami made their early run, paint touches were the trend. In games like this, Jimmy Butler always loves just sitting back and playing play-maker. So they spammed him as a post-split and screener hub, continually drawing defenders in under the basket into easy kicks. Fast forward to a bit later, we saw that all end. As the Heat went on an incredible three point run, they fell in love with it. That led to hand-off spams, constant flares without a ton of cutting, which just all equals one thing: not the Heat’s ultimate style. For this Heat team to thrive against any team, they need to dominate the paint on the ball.

#3: Back-up big man watch…

Looking at the bottom of the Heat’s rotation, we’ve been talking options. Duncan Robinson or Haywood Highsmith? Can Nikola Jovic get back in that mix? But the key is that word “options,” no matter the level they’re playing at. The issue is that they don’t have options at the center position. If it’s not Bam Adebayo, it’s Dewayne Dedmon. If it’s not Dedmon, it’s…Udonis Haslem? It’s just a quick fall-off in that room, especially when Dedmon struggles like he did in this one. There’s the eye popping aspect of missing easy ones around the rim, but the energy shift when teams begin going at him in actions just hurts Miami’s defense. The Grizzlies weren’t just running PnR at him, they were running isolations at him in their quicker lineups. He will have his moments about every 3 games where he goes on a run, but the consistency issue just keeps popping out. Who will be Bam’s back-up in April? That’s a very interesting question to monitor.

#4: The Heat’s Cam Payne game-plan vs Tyus Jones…different result.

Something I talked about extensively after the Suns game earlier in the year was Miami’s altered defensive game-plan. They’d close off the rim as much as possible, forcing that far floater from guys like Cam Payne possession after possession. Players in the Heat locker room voiced that to me as well, since it’s an inefficient look. They’ve done it a bunch of times this season, but there’s always that tip your cap moment. That’s what Tyus Jones was doing in this one, as he just kept knocking down that runner from a variety of different spots. It’s just a credit to him, since that’s still the wanted look from Miami’s perspective.

#5: Simply, Miami didn’t get enough from 3 core pieces.

What went wrong in this game, you may ask? Well, where should I start. At halftime, I tweeted that there were 3 elements of this game that went wrong early, and two of them needed to turn around for Miami to win. And well, that just didn’t happen. The first element was Jimmy Butler’s aggression, which happened for a few minutes to open the second half, since clearly it was the halftime focus entering the third. Yet it just wasn’t sustained or consistent enough. The second element was Bam Adebayo’s efficiency. Memphis kept sending two at Adebayo in that mid-post, which is a much different look for him, but there never was a developing counter throughout this one. And the last element is the bench. I talked about Dewayne Dedmon already, but what he know who he is already. Haywood Highsmith actually gave fantastic minutes on the defensive end. So a lot of focus is on Gabe Vincent and Max Strus. Both had great starts to the season, but have tailed off a bit recently. When you aren’t getting enough from your two best players, while simultaneously getting nothing from your only bench scorers, it puts you in a tough spot against anybody.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Celtics

The Miami Heat faced the Boston Celtics once again on Friday night, except this was a bit more exciting.

Boston pulled away, Heat answered, which led to it going down to the final seconds, with Jaylen Brown sending it to OT on an insane shot late in the 4th.

The Heat pulled it out in OT though, behind the starters high level play through and through.

So, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Tyler Herro entering shot creation mode early.

With the full starting lineup back together, there were some questions on who would be made priority, and who would step back. But well, we saw them all find their moments at different times. Tyler Herro scored 18 points in that first half, but it was more about how he was getting those shots. Quick pulls off handoffs or pick and rolls beyond the arc, isolation step backs in the mid-range, and a broad showing of footwork. While the passing has been on display recently, he found his scoring rhythm. To finish the second quarter, though, he twisted his ankle when landing, running right into the locker room before the half, leaving many projecting how they could mirror that same creation in the second half. But he ended up being just fine. From a basketball perspective, that type of shot making is a great change of pace for Miami’s shot profile, as showcased in that fourth quarter.

#2: The need for Bam Adebayo defensively.

Early in the second quarter, Bam Adebayo got his third foul, which was pretty much a theme for the game. After the Heat’s switching found some rhythm with Jimmy Butler back, they had to revert right back to the zone when Dewayne Dedmon entered after that foul trouble mentioned. Right on queue, the Celtics when on a three-point shooting run. Shortly after that, Dedmon then picked up his third foul, which led to Spoelstra looking to his bench quickly. Nikola Jovic time? Nope, Udonis Haslem got the call again. So the Celtics kept putting him in the action as he sat in drop pretty much at the level. We know Bam Adebayo’s impact on the defensive end, but it’s just hard to contain teams like this when he’s on the sideline watching for long periods of time.

#3: Jimmy Butler back means rim pressure is back.

As I said before, the starting lineup being back was a big focus, and I won’t sit here and act like it all roamed smoothly. They were taking turns many possessions to begin the game, while Jimmy Butler wasn’t a huge part of that involvement. He had to dust off some rust, but that didn’t take too long. In the second quarter, the offense found itself behind Herro’s shooting, and well Butler’s downhill attack. While the whistle wasn’t too favorable, he still absorbed contact and finished through traffic consistently, tapping into that bully ball play-style that he loves. He had 15 points at half on 7 of 10 shooting, which just shows he was earning his buckets. The takeaway here: this Heat group needs his rim pressure to get them out of cold streaks, which was showed early in this one.

#4: The Heat’s scoring stoppages appear again.

In the third quarter, the Heat had 1 made field goal from the 9:30 mark to a little over 3 minutes to go. Against this type of Celtics team, that just can’t happen. That one made basket was a Jimmy Butler drive and dish to Caleb Martin for a big dunk, yet every other possession just kept coming up empty. On the schematic front on why it was happening, it seemed like Bam’s foul trouble hurt the offense actually. He was so worried on his screens about picking up another offensive foul, which threw off the flow at times. That was a minor part of the issues, since the main chunk is just missing shots that actually weren’t terrible looks. The big picture takeaway: consistency, consistency, consistency. Since good teams usually won’t let you bounce back from a cold stretch that long. Somehow after that six minute span of non-existent offense, the Heat only trailed six heading into the fourth. Which I’ll discuss next…

#5: The fourth quarter…then OT.

While I just portrayed all of Miami’s issues in the third, they had a massive turnaround into the 4th. About 3 minutes in while trailing by 6 still, Tyler Herro hits a transition pull-up three. Boston comes down the court, as Bam Adebayo does his best Jimmy Butler impression by doubling backside getting the steal, tying it up on the other end with an and-1. A few plays later, Herro fights for his shot off the hand-off and knocks down another three, before Miami generates another steal and fastbreak dunk in the process. 5 point game all of a sudden. Boston answered back with some offense of their own behind Jaylen Brown, causing some back and forth over the next few minutes. The Heat’s switching took Tatum out of his game, while Highsmith made some incredible plays on the defensive end, as he played most of the fourth. Lowry’s career staple with that turnaround jumper made a couple appearances late to give Miami a necessary jolt as well. Fast forward to a tie game with 2 minutes left, the Heat run a Herro-Bam PnR, leading to a feed and Bam dunk down low. Grant Williams answers back a few plays later with a three to take the lead by 1, followed by a Bam attack off the roll for a trip to the line. Up 1, Tatum draws the Herro switch again. Off the attack, an incredible double by Highsmith forces the miss, as Butler hits a baseline fade after flipping dunker spots late in the clock. Tatum drives and dunks to cut the lead to 1 back on the other side, putting pressure on Miami to close it out, as Miami calls timeout to draw something up. Butler tries to get to the rim, it’s cut off, and shoots a tough fade on the wrap around. Bucket. Up 3, that’s game right? Wrong. An insane fading 3 from way out from Brown ties the game and sends it to OT. Wild. More back and forth continued, but a Bam Adebayo face-up and attack stood out most under a minute to go, getting to the line to take lead by 2. But Butler closes it out with a tough jumper. Heat win a tough one.

Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro: Sharpening the Important Tools

We know what Bam Adebayo is as a defender. We know what Tyler Herro is as a scorer. Although one of those guys is a bit more consistent with his skill, we are still aware that both possess a pretty elite attribute more often than not.

But are those the most important areas of their game as the Heat push forward with the hope of these guys leading the way? Probably not.

Herro had 20 assists over the last 2 games. Adebayo had 70 points over the last 2 games.

If that doesn’t tell you what I am hinting at, I don’t know what to tell you.

The Herro-Bam pick and roll has been a Heat staple for some time. But late in the regular season last year, there was full realization that it was the team’s best action in the half-court.

It sliced up the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs for games 1 and 2, and it’s been slicing up teams on this Butler-less roster since Herro returned from injury.

Looking at the clips above, this is pretty much the base PnR look for these two. Forcing a 2-on-1 in the middle of the floor, while eyeing the help from either side of the floor and reacting.

While the Herro pull-up/floater is the true threat to pull it all together, the Adebayo alley-oop or mid-range pull off the pocket pass are the two most likely outcomes.

This PnR combo is actually averaging 1.35 points per possession this season, which is on high volume since it’s the most used PnR combo on the team.

But we know all of this about their base action already. The reason I bring it up is because we’re seeing the subtle wrinkles they’re throwing in the mix.

To open up the Heat-Wizards game, Adebayo set a pin-down for Herro to operate off of, as Kyle Lowry hits Herro on a curl. This forces another version of a 2-on-1 for Herro and Bam, except they’re both running full speed downhill with a shrunken floor.

Win for the Heat offense since there is no help.

A lob to Bam gets things started.

Fast forward to this game against the Hawks, the Heat waited for the beginning of the third quarter to get into this bag of tricks. Herro flies into the curl 2 separate plays with the same exact result.

That dropping big’s job is to contain in middle ground, yet there’s no middle ground when it comes to a pull-up threat and a lob threat.

This is just one very simple adjustment for these two, and there are many more complex ones to come I assume, most likely closer to the playoffs.

But the reason I bring all of this up right now: Adebayo the scorer and Herro the play-maker can shift this Heat offense completely.

I’ll start on the more obvious Adebayo front by saying he needs to be a primary option on the offensive end for this team consistently. Actually, he needs to be *the* option.

How do the Heat figure out this starting lineup dilemma when fully healthy?

While that conversation has many different answers, the simplest one is Adebayo. When he is gone to early in games, he’s hard to stop past that point. He’s a rhythm player who needs sets run for him to create positive offense for the rest of the group.

Butler has interior gravity and can work the drive and kick game immensely, but he doesn’t shift an entire defense like Adebayo potentially could. The most teams will do to Butler is send the occasional double team, but the entire defense will pinch when it’s Adebayo attacking your drop big in the middle of the floor.

It’s a very obvious statement, but Adebayo the scorer is the most important development for this Heat team.

But do you want to hear a close second?

Tyler (Herro) the Creator. More specifically, the play-maker.

Since I brought up that 76ers series earlier in this piece, let’s go back to it. They found a way to make Herro uncomfortable by putting two on the ball, but what is the counter to that other than not calling for the screen in the first place?

Quick decisions and perfect passes.

If you look at the clips I provided previously, Herro’s way of hitting the roller in these last two games has been eye opening. And if he can hit that pocket pass enough, teams aren’t just going to be *okay* with letting Adebayo run 4-on-3’s on that backside.

These two young guys have this underlying skill within them, it’s just about channeling it and being willing to more often. Butler and Lowry would love for these two guys to take the reigns, and it’s in the team’s best interest to maximize those two guys for the post-season the best they could. (Obviously by getting to a comfortable spot in the standings first.)

We’ve been talking about them sharpening these tools for a while now, but we’ve approached the time period where these tools are ready to be used. Consistently.

Not just as fun offensive wrinkles, but to be the entire Miami Heat offensive base.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Hawks

The Miami Heat kicked off an important road trip in Atlanta, and put together some pretty good basketball without Jimmy Butler.

That was headlined by Bam Adebayo yet again, while Caleb Martin shined right behind him.

So here are some takeaways from this win…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s scoring growing, while the side quests remain the same.

After a 38 point night against the Washington Wizards for Bam Adebayo, he came out firing yet again. His consistent goal is to hunt for his spot in the middle of the floor, as he can rise over the top for the jumper. They were also running sets for him out of the mid-post, while embodying the grab and go system so he can operate in transition. The scoring game is growing. But as I said in the headline, the other stuff isn’t declining. The amount of stuff on his plate is insane to watch: covering up everything at the bottom of the zone when the point of attack gets blown by, finding a body to box-out to clean up the boards, and running down the floor to be the one and only action hub as his constant screening is necessary. Yet with all of that said, he didn’t seem to be slowed down in any area. The Bam Adebayo surge is a good thing to see.

#2: Max Strus back, Max Strus comes out as only source of perimeter punch.

While Adebayo was the main punch in an all-around sense, Max Strus was the initial provider on the perimeter. As the offense tries to find themselves without Jimmy Butler, the one thing that’s clear is they need to shoot the ball well from the outside, which just hasn’t been the case. The connecting factor, though, to outside shooting is paint touches, which Miami made a priority early. Strus hit two threes to begin the game off a Kyle Lowry drive and Caleb Martin attack. Aside from the pick and roll spam or occasional Adebayo hub in mid-post, this is the only other scoring supplier. After Strus missed some time, the Heat are very fortunate that he came back firing away in this sense, since if there’s one thing about Strus, it’s that he can get shots up no matter the coverage, time stamp, etc. When it comes to positives in that first half, we stop after these two guys.

#3: A lineup for Miami sums certain things up…

Dru Smith-Strus-Haywood Highsmith-Jamal Cain-Dewayne Dedmon. That was a lineup for an extended period early in this game, which pretty much gives us some perspective on where the Heat stand on bodies. I often write about the individual struggles or positives from these guys, but when watching them all out there together, there’s not much to overly analyze. There’s just not much expectation for good stuff to be taken from it. Dedmon actually gave some good minutes for a stretch and these guys got stops, but as you would expect, they have limitations. The Hawks expanded a lead before the starters came back in, but I just can’t sit here and put the focus on a bunch of undrafted guys who were playing in Sioux Falls anywhere from a few months ago to a few weeks ago. At the half, they needed more from their starting back-court to push them forward, so the bench mob’s job can be battling to stay neutral.

#4: Tyler Herro altering the focus in the 3rd.

With Adebayo’s hot start in the first half, they needed to find a way to 1) keep him involved in the second half and 2) have it come without him having to create it all himself. And well, the answer to that riddle is Tyler Herro. As I’ve talked into the ground for some time, the Herro-Bam PnR is the best action on this Heat team. The Heat used a variation of that in the 3rd quarter, and didn’t go away from it. Lowry creating at the top of the offense, Adebayo setting a pindown for Herro, which flows into a curl for Herro and Bam to operate in a 2-on-1. Dribble, lob, dunk. The next time down, we see the same exact set-up. The result: dribble, lob, dunk. Fast forward a few plays later, they run it for a third time, and the Hawks didn’t adjust. The only change was his lob ended up being a goal-tend instead of a converted alley-oop. The beginning of the 3rd quarter was the same action being spammed over and over and over, before the ball movement took the offensive steering wheel the rest of the way. Herro finished with the first triple double of his career.

#5: Caleb Martin’s 4th quarter counter.

The Hawks wanted Caleb Martin to settle for the catch and shoot three in the half-court all night, but no matter the possession, he just would not fall into the trap. Pause, look, attack. His paint touches were crucial, and off-ball cuts provided very nice boosts through the first three quarters. And then the start of the 4th quarter hit. He continues to be a dominant transition player for this team, since he’s patient enough to wait for his fast-break defender to settle on him. Once he can go 1-on-1, he makes that euro step and he’s basically got you right where he wants. He’s an athlete, just like Bam Adebayo, so they’re treating them like athletes. The other element of Martin’s play that has stood out is his creation, not only for himself but for others. The handle is tighter, the shiftiness is there, and don’t get me started on the way he attacks his defenders front foot. Martin’s ascension this season has been one of the true bright spots.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Washington

The Miami Heat faced the Washington Wizards once again on Friday night, and it was the Bam Adebayo night.

A dominant offensive performance from start to finish, as he led Miami into a much needed two game win streak.

So, some takeaways from this one…

#1: Bam Adebayo’s early offensive dominance.

Bam Adebayo’s first half was pretty eventful on the offensive end: 22 points on 9 of 10 shooting is a pretty insane stat-line. But it was more about the shot profile since it wasn’t repetitive at all. It started out with a heavy dosage of Herro-Bam PnR, which was expected in this match-up against drop. Some early buckets off the roll boosted energy and confidence for him, leading into some early shot-clock work on some face-up jumpers and attacks. One possession stood out though to kick off this game, since I love when they run sets for Bam: Herro handling, Jovic pin-down on the left box for Bam to operate off a curl, leading to a bucket in the mid-range. More. They continued to let him work on the move which is the key, but that type of efficiency is just so impressive. The most important thing for this team’s success is to prioritize getting Bam going early in games.

#2: The Wizards defensive game-plan in the bench minutes.

In these two-game sets, it’s kind of like a mini playoff series. Minor adjustments are utilized back and forth, meaning counter punches are being thrown on the fly. Once again, not playoff sized counters, but simply and minor ones. For instance, the Wizards had an approach that made a whole lot of sense against Miami’s lineups with a front-court of Highsmith-Cain-Dedmon. Or we can even simplify it down to the two-man combo of Highsmith and Cain. Since they’re being utilized as the spacers, the Wizards were shading over hard at Lowry and Herro as primary ball-handlers. Once they would draw a mismatch like Porzingis, Wes Unseld would wave his hands to send the double. Herro or Lowry have to swing, Highsmith or Cain ends up getting it in the corner, and the lack of a quick pull means they can rotate/recover quickly. That’s just the result of those type of lineups, but an intriguing wrinkle to note.

#3: More eyes on Caleb Martin playing the wing.

Watching Caleb Martin’s movement in this game again, it’s clear that he’s comfortable as an attacker at the moment. Part of that is the match-ups he’s seeing from Washington, as he voiced to me on Wednesday, but there’s also the element of playing a lot at the three, while Highsmith and Cain play the “Martin” role for now. I will say that this team needs his on-ball slashing a lot more right now than when the full starting lineup is out there, since a lot of guys are demanding the ball, but that’s exactly what puts this into some perspective. If he can slide over to the bench with more usage and better match-ups while not having to size up, that’s the goal in my opinion. The unwillingness to stick with Jovic tells me that change won’t be made until we see a trade, but the point still stands that *this* is the role for Martin.

#4: A counter punch by Miami in terms of adjustments.

As I went over these two-game sets being mini playoff series, Erik Spoelstra wasn’t going to let Unseld and crew have all the fun with adjustments. As the Heat needed some added juice in the third quarter, Spo mixed up the coverages a bit away from the 2-3 zone. As I talked about on Wednesday, the Martin-Highsmith-Cain-Bam minutes are a waste of zone time. That’s a team that can switch around a bit, which is exactly what Spo went to in that span. This created a bit of a run, as Highsmith did a good job switching, Bam shut the water off on the perimeter, and some stops led to transition buckets for Martin and company. I’m totally for the reliance on zone with the roster that’s being utilized at the moment, but I also feel like there are pockets of time where it can use a break, as seen in that span.

#5: Another look into the late-game approach.

As the Heat had an uphill climb while trailing throughout the 4th quarter, the Heat’s approach didn’t waver. Bam Adebayo was still the primary option, as he would receive it in that mid-post almost every possession to set up offense. A bucket mid-way through the quarter put him up to 32, while the following play a goal-tend at the rim increased it to 34. Heat trail 98-96. After a stop, Lowry bursts by the point of attack, draws help from both corners, kicks to Bam in the right corner, who immediately flows into a hand-off with Herro who hits a fading three in the deep corner. But the Wizards answer right back with a bucket and a trip to the free throw line, giving the lead back to Washington 102-99. Out of a timeout, Herro gets stuck off the dribble again, swinging the ball to Lowry on the left wing. Shot clock ticking, he sizes up, and fires over Kuzma, converting on the and-1 triple to give Miami another sign of life. Fast forward to under a minute, after taking a one point lead, the Heat just kept forcing stops on the other end. 30 seconds left, Lowry-Bam PnR in space is the action. He feeds it to Bam rolling to the basket, who hits an insane left handed scoop. 38 points on the night. Ball-game.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Pacers

The Miami Heat headed up to Indiana for a single road game detour on Friday night, before they have a plethora of home games ahead.

It was far from a pretty basketball showing in this one. Trust me.

Anyway, the Heat fell short, so here are my immediate takeaways…

#1: First half offense: oh, let’s talk 3 point shooting.

The Heat shot 5 of 24 from deep in the first half tonight. Buddy Hield on the opposing side knocked down 4 threes alone in that span. Yeah, I’d say that tells a lot of the story of a game. Miami was generating pretty good looks throughout that period, but it just wasn’t dropping for most of the Heat’s role guys. They were looking their best through strong drives for fouls or post splits for Bam Adebayo to hit cutters, as he did on back to back plays to Gabe Vincent in the second quarter. Yet it’s clear that the blueprint when playing without Jimmy Butler, would be to hit perimeter shots with heavier offensive lineups. To add onto this, Indiana’s defense is one that allows pretty high percentage looks from deep, which is why this was a bit surprising.

#2: The bench looking thin…

No Jimmy Butler. No Victor Oladipo still. No Omer Yurtseven still. Nikola Jovic didn’t make the trip. So the bench was going to look pretty similar to the last game against the Kings. But after explaining that last section of shooting, this grouping had a big part in that. Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, and Dewayne Dedmon formed the 8 man rotation early, and all three of them didn’t look like their best selves early. Robinson was missing open looks, Dedmon had a rough time with the Pacers’ quick guards in drop, and while Vincent struggled a bit early, still gave them enough on both ends in that back-up PG spot. Shortly after, the Heat’s “9th man” on the night Haywood Highsmith entered. At this point, many of us are looking for those minutes to go to Jamal Cain, but we’re just not there yet. Soon…

#3: The Bam Adebayo foul trouble conversation.

As I mentioned before, this team has no Yurtseven and a shaky Dedmon to make up the backline for Bam Adebayo. That leaves the team needing one thing: for Bam to stay on the floor as much as possible. Yet we’ve seen an uptick in fouls to begin this season, which could be for a few different reasons. The main one is that he’s being more aggressive as a rim attacker and roller, which is racking him up some offensive fouls. And I can live with that trade off. On the other end, he’s getting some fouls in the paint on contests, since he’s playing the “cover-up” game at all times, which he’s pretty accustomed to. The process of toning this down is awkward, since you don’t want to backtrack his aggressiveness on either end. But it gets to a point where they need to be mindful, since the trade-off of two points or keeping Bam on the floor, is an easy answer.

#4: Max Strus’ growth continues to shine.

When looking at this team to begin the year, there’s no doubt that Max Strus has been the one guy that’s growth has shined the most. For starters, he has saved this team’s offense time and time again when coming off the bench. His consistent shooting gives this team a different look and flow, but that’s just the beginning of his improvements. The defense has been serviceable, but more importantly, his overall movement and cutting to be a threat inside the arc has shifted his shot profile. We saw that again tonight on his third quarter run, where he scored 7 straight. A three off a DHO, followed by a steal and bucket in transition, then capped off by a perfectly timed cut when he noticed Haliburton ball-watching. Been clear that his bag has broadened.

#5: Bam Adebayo uplifting Miami offensively in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.

As the Heat look like they have stalled out in their second half run, Bam Adebayo took the keys on a night without Jimmy Butler. He got into the middle of the floor for a good looking pull-up middy halfway through the 4th, giving Miami some offensive hope. Shortly after, on an ugly possession with the shot clock trickling down, he faked a handoff, sprinted at the rim, and got the and-1 to really catapult this group. It’s one thing to call plays for him late, but it’s another when he’s asserting himself at this time of a game. The only issue with all of that: nobody could find a flow from that point on. The ball was sticking, shots weren’t dropping consistently, and well, they still had a chance at the very end. Some back and forth with controversial calls led to the last minute feeling like an eternity. Eventually, down 2 with 10 seconds left, Herro attempted a fadeaway three for the win, that came up short…

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Raptors

The Miami Heat fall to the Toronto Raptors this time around, after some back and forth late.

Heat now 1-3.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: A look into an interchangeable defensive system for Miami.

As the Miami Heat trailed 48-43 at half, it always gives you a moment of reflection as to what the primary issue is. Both ends of the floor had problems in prior games, but the defensive end seemed to be cleaned up generally early in this one. From a positive perspective, I thought we finally got the defensive mix that you would be looking for with this Heat group. The first few possessions included some Bam Adebayo in drop, which I’ve been asking for. It then altered back to the soft switching, while shading help over for double teams more often than not. Following those sequences, Miami leaned into the 2-2-1 press and 2-3 zone when Gabe Vincent and Haywood Highsmith were at the top of it. The point is that Miami’s defense was problematic when it was one dimensional. Being creative and unpredictable is all you can ask for.

#2: The Dewayne Dedmon element.

While we imagined Bam Adebayo would be gunning for the DPOY award this year, I didn’t think Dewayne Dedmon would be given any credit for that. But when you open up the on/off numbers, or simply the plus/minus, the Dedmon stuff jumps off the page. But even more-so, it jumps off the game-tape when watching. He can’t truly move at this stage, which creates problems for this team on both ends. He doesn’t have the back-pedaling quickness to fully contain in drop, while his offensive role is just to simply “float” after a screen. Not much intention, not many positive outcomes. Simply, the minutes have looked bad to begin this season, and the status of Omer Yurtseven on the injury report becomes more and more intriguing.

#3: The Heat aren’t being quiet about the offensive combo that works best.

Something I’ve been discussing all off-season for Miami, when projecting the starting lineup on the season, was the Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo pick and roll connection. And well, it’s lived up to the hype early in the season. Herro has recorded 1.47 points per possession on 61% shooting as the PnR ball handler, which only ranks behind Luka Doncic and Jaylen Brown. Adebayo has recorded 1.25 PPP on 68% shooting as the PnR roll man, only ranking behind John Collins. But the bigger headliner is that they aren’t afraid to lean into it. Heavily. The entire offense seems to be operating around that two-man action, and we’re seeing minor layers added to it and it’s only game 4. One of the more fun X’s and O’s story-lines to follow for this team.

#4: A very great Jimmy Butler approach.

As the Heat made a solid third quarter push, it required us to zoom out a bit. Bam Adebayo with some highlight-type strong attacks. Tyler Herro continues to be the shining piece. Yet Jimmy Butler was just quietly coasting to having a pretty great game. Trips to the line, a couple triples, mismatch hunting, solid facilitating, and great efficiency. We know what the role of Butler in the regular season looks like compared to the playoffs, but this is a great example of him not having to do *too* much while still putting up numbers. Combining my last takeaway with this one, a specific Herro-Bam PnR stood out late in the first half. Butler set-up at dunker spot for interior gravity, while he roams from box to box. Herro hit Butler who knocked down the floater. The shot profile mix is a healthy one.

#5: Late-game execution.

Jimmy Butler walks to the scorer’s table of a close game with 5 minutes left in the 4th. A bit of a back and forth pursued with some forced offense from Miami. A perfectly executed Spain PnR turned South late as Bam took off too early and it clanked off the rim. Raptors started to get some easy buckets down low, seemingly putting Miami in an awkward position with Butler entering with 3 mins left in the quarter. Fast forwarding a minute of a 6 point game, the Heat force a miss and run into transition. Tyler Herro, in Herro fashion, pulls up for three on the break to cut the lead to 3. All of a sudden the ball ends up back in their hands with a little over a minute to go, and we get another Spain PnR siting. Perfect result with VanVleet switching onto Bam, yet Herro shoots a tough shot that just misses. On the other end, Vincent did his best to contain, but Siakam got to his sweet spot for the mid-range bucket. 5 point game. Good play-call out of the timeout for Butler to drive on a curl screen for the easy lay-in. Yet as good of defense they played on Toronto following that play, Gary Trent just hits an insanely tough shot in the deep corner. Ends in a loss for Miami.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Celtics

So we got an Eastern Conference Finals rematch on Friday night, immediately following a tough opening night performance for the Miami Heat.

Consistency felt like one of the main issues in this one, since even though the offense or defense was there at times, they just couldn’t sustain it long enough.

Even after making a late push, it wasn’t enough to steal a win against this gritty and skilled Celtics team. So here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: Tyler Herro: flattened offense to rim attempts to a fully open shot diet.

For scorers like Tyler Herro, the start of games hold high importance. It may sound wild, but he’s a rhythm player who needs to find his way a bit before truly popping. But that wasn’t the case early in this game. The Celtics were really flattening out the expected pick and rolls to come with Bam Adebayo, leaving Herro in a weird spot offensively. Then a few minutes into the second quarter, he found his way. Herro began getting to the rim a bunch, which is the true cursor to fully opening up his entire shot menu. That led into the free throw line floater opening up. Then the three-point shooting. Then the play-making. It’s a domino effect for Herro, but the ability to get out of the mud a bit at the start of games is a good sign.

#2: Bam Adebayo comes out aggressive…again. Just with different result.

After Bam Adebayo struggled on opening night against the Chicago Bulls, the topic about his scoring ability wasn’t the usual headliner: aggression. He was definitely getting shots up, they just weren’t dropping, which tends to happen. But the process was there. That stayed strong early in this game against Boston, as he wasn’t afraid to dive into the shots that Boston was giving him, which pretty much began and finished with the mid-range pull-up. Those jumpers led him to a 12 point first half stat line on 6 of 7 shooting. My point the other night was that inefficient nights for him will be fine throughout the season, as long as there’s a similar process along the way. Even though tonight had a bit of a different process with some early foul trouble.

#3: Where’s the movement?

In terms of the downside of Miami’s X’s and O’s, I must say I was expecting Miami to lean much more into their motion offense this year. They have multiple movement shooters on the floor together at times, a decent amount of on-ball creators, and a couple athletes. That roster construction screams nonstop movement, especially when linking that player grouping to the Miami Heat. But we’ve seen a lot of stagnant two-man actions early in this season, while the weak-side spacers are simply spotting up. Of course that can be the case depending on the action you’re running, but this team won’t be a successful scoring team off a bunch of isolations. I think they will find their identity here soon, but something to keep an eye on.

#4: The importance of the Kyle Lowry pull-up 3.

After talking about some of the minor negatives of the offense so far, it’s also important to talk some positives. And after a bad opening night for Kyle Lowry, he bounced back with some crucial buckets throughout. More specifically, it’s pretty clear that his pull-up triple changes the game for this team’s half-court offense. When he doesn’t take it, the defense goes under to flatten it, and it usually just ends up in a congested pass to the roller or resetting swing pass. Yet when he’s taking it, it puts more pressure on not only the on-ball defender, but the off-ball helpers. That’s the way to bend a good Celtics defense, and it’s with one single shot. It’ll be intriguing to monitor the efficiency and volume of it, but that’ what’ll make Lowry’s presence extremely helpful.

#5: A much needed defensive pick-up.

As I talked about the other night, Miami’s defensive rotations just weren’t there. This time around, it wasn’t as much the rotations. Instead it had many of us glued to their defensive layout. The Celtics are a heavy shot creation team, especially considering their molded around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. With that said, they enjoying picking their isolation matchup at any given moment. They were able to do that pretty easily at times with Miami’s switching, while yes it may have it’s perks with the randomized helps and doubles, just needs some type of mix-up against a team like Boston. The thing I’ve been advocating for is a mix of drop once in a while with Bam Adebayo on the floor. Maybe that says something about the point of attack defense in that first unit, but some defensive creativity and unpredictability is needed for this group with 80 games to go.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Bulls

The Miami Heat faced the Chicago Bulls in their season opener, and well, it didn’t go as expected.

They came out playing well out the gate, but that stalled quickly. The defensive lapses began to add up, as DeMar DeRozan continued to “heat” up.

So, here are some takeaways…

#1: Tyler Herro kicks off his new role with a scoring punch…with a changing profile.

There was no doubt that Tyler Herro would be a focal point of the starting group’s offensive flow, but his usage was peaking to an even further degree early. An immediate pull-up three to kick things off will always be a good sign, but the next possession spoke volume. Herro pick and roll, Chicago Bulls blitz. He showed patience, waited it out, flowed downhill, snaked insane, and put up the floater. Bucket. Shortly after, as Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo created, the ball ended up swinging to Herro in the corner for a spot-up three. The point is that his shot profile looks much different, while simultaneously looking much better. Pull-ups, spot-ups, blitzes: you know the deal. He’s just confident against all of it to start the season off.

#2: The rotation at the moment…

The starting lineup wasn’t much of a surprise heading in, (Lowry-Herro-Butler-Martin-Bam) but the questions were pointed at the bench unit without Victor Oladipo suiting up. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Dewayne Dedmon were going to form the 8, but how would they regulate the rest? Well, the answer was quite simple. They went the Duncan Robinson route, and played him next to Strus for long stretches. Yet the key about the rotation is that they are matching good combinations. For example, they want to mirror the minutes of Herro and Bam as much as possible. So, they sub Butler out first, to then have him anchor the bench unit shortly after. It’s a solid philosophy to split up on-ball threats, but the next evaluation period will include how Butler and Oladipo look together once he returns.

#3: Caleb Martin isn’t PJ Tucker, and they won’t treat him like so.

Who will be the PJ Tucker replacement? That’s a question that has been asked all off-season, and the answer to that question has been Caleb Martin. Yes, he’s subbing into the position that he filled, but he’s not truly filling his role. Martin is surprising people with his growth at the moment, since he’s doing things that we’ve yet to see from him. Step 1 was the ability to size up defensively. Miami placed him on DeMar DeRozan early for the sole reason of predicting the switch, ending with him trying to hold his own on Nikola Vucevic. He had some good possessions early, but they continued to post him up a punch in the second half, proving the difference between PJ Tucker and himself. But the offensive stuff is a change of pace as well: rim pressure, tighter handle, better shooting, and constant movement. For an unexpected example. the dude literally ran a pick and roll for a tough mid-range pull-up early on. This is a different player right now, and there’s more to explore in my personal opinion.

#4: Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry struggling.

When looking at the stat sheet at halftime, two things would’ve caught you by surprise. Bam Adebayo was 1 for 10 from the field and Kyle Lowry had 0 points on two attempts. On the Bam front, he was just missing easy buckets at the rim time and time again. Bunnies, dunks, etc. I mean he was aggressive, but he didn’t have that usual focused flare from the jump. Lowry, on the other hand, wasn’t even looking for his shot. There weren’t many actions I can recall that he was heavily involved. Most of the offense included Bam or Jimmy post-splits, or Herro created buckets off pick and rolls or curls. I truly believe the Bam element is just one of those nights where easy ones don’t drop, but the Lowry part of it is about engagement level. Herro and Butler can only do so much to keep this group afloat. They’re going to need some type of punch on nights like this from Lowry and/or Bam.

#5: A step too slow defensively?

As the Bulls continued to pull away in the third quarter, there was a consistent theme: DeMar DeRozan tough buckets and sleepy Heat defensive possessions. This Heat team goes through shooting/scoring slumps all the time, but their energy and defensive rotations, specifically, usually carry them. That wasn’t the case for long periods in this one. Bulls were getting easy buckets at the rim and simple back-cuts were end results, which is far from a Miami Heat product. If there’s one thing this Heat team can’t afford to lose this season, it’s those crispy rotations on the defensive side of the ball night in and night out.