The Miami Heat had an early tip-off Sunday afternoon, and they took care of business against the Orlando Magic in a Jimmy Butler return.
Tyler Herro ejection, young guys continue to soar, and the OG gets some more run.
So, here are five takeaways from this one…
#1: Jimmy Butler comes out firing to start.
Jimmy Butler has missed a lengthy period of time recently with that back injury, but this didn’t look like the last time he came back. In that game, he couldn’t even run the open floor without making a face, but tonight, he was clearly ready. Receiver like fades down the floor for easy buckets, defending pick and rolls like he never left, and getting that whistle as frequently as ever. Firing doesn’t mean he was shooting the ball great, because that wasn’t the case, but he was providing a decent pace and getting to the line with ease. The Heat have missed Jimmy Butler, but the issue is that they are still missing plenty of other guys on this roster. Tyler Herro being staggered with that one top dog has kept them afloat, but it was definitely good for Butler to get back into the swing of things.
#2: Udonis Haslem enters, Udonis Haslem produces.
Udonis Haslem enters, and the crowd goes wild. But way too often, we just end that statement there. We don’t go beyond that standing ovation or finger pointing in the face of Dwight Howard. But we should, especially in this one. He provides things that this team needs right now with the lack of bigs. Off-ball screening at the top of the key, good positional rolling, and a savvy way around the rim. Even when Omer Yurtseven was providing decent stretches, it’s important to balance that with a trusted piece, since frankly, there’s just nobody else that is next in line. It’s wild that it took this long to call Haslem’s name when necessary, but it’s far from too late. He’s needed big time right now.
#3: Tyler Herro with an early passing display.
Tyler Herro’s first half shot profile was definitely interesting. Every shot was as tough as it could get, which eventually led to some words from RJ Hampton, sparking an eventual back and forth and a double technical. But beyond that, Herro began impacting the game in another way. Almost too much. He was heavily relying on his play-making, leading to a 6 assist stat-line half-way through the second quarter. It may have been a surprise when initially seeing that number, but he was intentional with his passing. Collapsing the defense with his drive and kicks, feeding Haslem continually on that roll, and just surveying that mid-range as that continued threat. It was an interesting start, but seeing that evolve at this point is a very good sight. And it’s a good thing we saw it early, since his night ended early after being ejected.
#4: The young guys are competing: in the game and for their spot.
Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Omer Yurtseven. These guys have all had fantastic individual performances this season, but yet again while looking at tonight, they step up collectively. No Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris, Dewayne Dedmon, and still Victor Oladipo, yet Miami’s still winning games due to the production of these inexperienced and developing young guys. Vincent, Strus, and Martin have already been given their flowers, but Yurtseven was showcasing himself in this one for sure. Planting himself down low and turning with the post-hook appeared to be the formula. But now only are guys like him competing for wins like this one, they’re competing for their spot. I don’t know if any of them will find themselves in an 8/9 man playoff rotation, but they’ve all made some pretty great cases.
#5: Ball movement, ball movement, and more ball movement.
We can talk about awkward lineups, poor shooting, and less free throws as recent stand-outs with the Heat, but ball movement has kept them above water offensively. Of course the young guys I was referring to is a major part with all of their big performances, but they’ve been within that ball movement category. Early in the fourth, Miami assisted on 27 of their 30 shot makes up to that point. No iso possessions or clear-out post-ups, since even if that is displayed, a kick-out is almost always the outcome. Without 2 of your better passers, in Lowry and Bam, they’ve been able to carry that over pretty well, to overcome 13% shooting from three, which was the case a good portion of the first half. The intriguing part about this is how it’ll look with a fully healthy roster.
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