Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Miami Heat Fall to the Seventh Seed in Brooklyn

The fans and the Miami Heat, except for Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, have eight days off courtesy of the All-Star festivities. It’s the break the outfit needs badly. The team’s closing performance over the last two games was as pathetic as an Amy Schumer stand-up special.

Some key cogs have performed below standards in areas where they once excelled too. And the head instructor is stubborn- he’s keeping Jimmy Butler at a minutes cap in the fourth quarter when the team is running on empty as he watches from the bench. Through 71% of the season, the squad is five games over .500 and a half-game behind the New York Knicks for sixth place.

Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges sent them on a brief vacation by piecing them up for 45 points on Wednesday. At the start of the fourth quarter, he had 28 on the scorecard. When Butler came in, Bridges wasn’t fazed, hitting two shots matched up with him and seven out of nine times against Miami in the period.

As expected, the Heat’s snipers were neutered by the Nets’ length. After missing its first four attempts from deep, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent splashed three. The combustion was short-lived, however. The Heatles shot 24% from 3-point range the rest of the way. Seven of the misses were open-enough looks; the rest were well contested by Brooklyn, beating the screeners to the closeout and staying home on matchups.

Adebayo played all of the fourth quarter and logged 14 points on 67% efficiency, but it wasn’t enough. When he switched from the middle to guard the top and corners, Brooklyn attacked from the opposite sides for access to the lane and a runway on the baseline.

It’s a shame Butler left Adebayo hanging in the fourth quarter. JB finished the frame in seven minutes without recording a field goal attempt, but he did make two free throws. When he checked in, the Heat was down by one possession. Within 59 seconds, Brooklyn’s lead was at nine.

Butler looked as disinterested as the United States is with the poor. If only everyone got the memo that he’d started his recess after halftime.

From behind the arc, the Nets were as deadly as the White Feather sniper, Carlos Hathcock. Even on solid closeouts, the hosts were undaunted and launched over the defense. Cam Johnson buried a triple in Butler’s eye two minutes into the game. Bridges canned one with Caleb Martin’s hand in his space and another over the much smaller Vincent running by in the right corner.

The differential from 3-point land was so vast, Brooklyn made 11 more than Miami in a match the visitors took six more field goal attempts, had five more rebounds and three fewer turnovers.

Following the game, coach Erik Spoelstra credited Brooklyn’s switching defenders on the perimeter as the tactic to limit attempts and efficiency, plus create over-dribbling.

“Throughout the course of the game, I thought there were windows that were open at the point of the pick against the switches,” Spo said. “But we just weren’t able to make the plays in order to keep them honest…”


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