Heat

10 Takeaways From Miami’s 2-0 Lead Over Indiana

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The Miami Heat have won their first two games of their first-round matchup against the Indiana Pacers. There are a lot of positives that Miami can take from these two games, but there are also plenty of negatives that the Heat can look to improve on. Here are 10 takeaways from the beginning of the series.

Game One

Role Players Struggle from 3

84 of Miami’s 113 points in game one came from four players: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro. Everyone else struggled to score against the gritty Indiana defense. One player whose struggles were surprising was Duncan Robinson. Robinson, who shot 44.6% from three this season, shot just 2-8 from the field. All of Robinson’s field goal attempts were from three. Even though Robinson has been very consistent all year, the Heat can not afford many games like this from him throughout the series, or else this could become a long series for Miami.

Another player who Miami expects more scoring out of is Jae Crowder, who totaled just eight points on 2-5 shooting from three. Crowder has averaged 11.9 points per game and shot 44.5% from three since arriving to Miami in February. Crowder will have a big role on the team to be a reliable threat from deep to help space the floor for Butler and Adebayo.

Tyler Herro’s Rise

One huge development for the Heat in the bubble has been the massive jump Tyler Herro has made to his game over the hiatus. Herro has been poised and in control whenever he is on the court. He finished the game with 15 points and four assists, earning trust from Erik Spoelstra.

He has improved at picking and choosing his spots, as well as finishing at the rim at a much higher rate than during the regular season. The 20-year-old rookie closed game one with ball-handling duties alongside Dragic, Butler, Andre Iguodala and Adebayo. When Butler and Bam sit for the Heat, they often struggle to compete against their opponent, so having a spark off the bench like Herro who can facilitate the offense against the Pacers’ second unit will be crucial for Miami.

No Kendrick Nunn

Coming into the bubble, the Heat’s best total plus/minus lineup according to NBA.com was Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Meyers Leonard and Bam Adebayo. During the seeding games, Meyers Leonard was taken out of Miami’s rotation. Nunn continued to play in these games but struggled to make his shots. As a result, Nunn did not see one second of action in game one. It will be interesting to see if Miami will try to incorporate him back into their game plan later in the series. If he is not able to fix his shot, it will be very hard to find a role for the rookie of the year finalist.

Playoff Jimmy

Jimmy Butler did not disappoint in his Heat playoff debut. Butler scored a game-high 28 points, adding three rebounds and four assists. He was the initiator on both sides of the ball, penetrated the paint with ease, and knocked down both of his three-point attempts. Butler set the tone defensively, intercepting passing lanes and poking the ball out of the opposition’s hands, leading to four steals.

He was brought to Miami to be the leader of this young team. He has made life easier for his teammates by setting them up with open looks and simplified roles, which will be vitally important if the Heat plan to make a deep playoff run.

Heat Wing Defenders

The Heat as a whole will need to do a better job defending Indiana’s wings. The Pacers will heavily rely on scoring from their three-headed trio of Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo and TJ Warren. Throughout the game, Indiana would force Miami to switch their guards onto these players to create a mismatch. Herro, Robinson and Dragic are not great isolation defenders, and the Pacers were using that to their advantage. Miami will need better defensive play from these players in order to slow down Indiana’s offense.

Game 2

Duncan Responds

As mentioned previously, Duncan Robinson and the rest of the Heat squad struggled to hit their shots in game one. In game two, Robinson went 7-for-8 from deep, tying a franchise record for most three-pointers made by in a playoff game. Miami would also break their franchise record for three-pointers made in a postseason game with 18. This is more of the shooting the Heat have been used to in the regular season and hopefully this trend continues throughout the series.

Bam in Foul Trouble

In the regular season, Bam Adebayo was very good at being a disciplined defender and avoiding foul trouble. In the bubble, however, there have been multiple times where Bam is forced to sit early in the first quarter due to foul trouble, which would happen in game two. The Heat jumped out to a 12-3 early lead, but Bam’s foul trouble allowed the Pacers back into the game. After returning to the floor, he wasn’t able to get into a rhythm offensively– a possible effect of the early foul trouble. Despite this, Bam would finish with a team-high plus/minus of +19. Miami will need a more disciplined Bam moving forward, or else this series (and potential future bouts) might slip away from them.

Missing Free Throws

The Heat shot 28 free throws in game two, but only connected on 19. Failing to convert consistently on the easiest shot in basketball provides an opportunity for the opposition to pounce late in the game. Fortunately, Miami could not miss from behind the arc in game two, but missed free throws could be detrimental to their success later in the series.

Pacers Rim Protection

Indiana center Myles Turner has been very disruptive to Miami’s offense. He has done an outstanding job protecting the rim throughout this series. After struggling in game one, Turner blocked five shots and shut down Bam Adebayo while disrupting Heat guards in the lane. Turner has been known to be inconsistent on the court, however, so we will see if this version of Myles Turner is what the Heat will see in game three.

Heat Rotation is Set

So far, it appears Erik Spoelstra has a set rotation that he is comfortable with for their playoff run. Miami will heavily rely on a nine-man rotation with the majority of minutes distributed to Dragic, Robinson, Butler, Crowder, Adebayo, Iguodala and Herro. These seven players have logged at least 23 minutes in both games. Miami will also sprinkle in a little bit of play time for Derrick Jones Jr. and Kelly Olynyk, both netting 12-13 minutes in each game. As the Heat progress further into the postseason, it would not be surprising to see an even shorter rotation. But it seems as if Erik Spoelstra is comfortable with this lineup going further unless anything drastic happens.

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About Zachary McGaha

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