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.