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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Denver in Game 5
Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Denver in Game 5
May 19, 2024 3:55 AM

The Miami Heat’s season comes to a close…

Takeaways from this game 5…

#1: Bam Adebayo in takeover mode early on…

As the Heat opened up this game, things looked bleak. They missed 11 shots in a row in the first quarter, yet followed it right up by making 7 in a row. A lot of that: Bam Adebayo. Finding slots above the rim as a roller, the short jumper was dropping, and simply he was playing with more will than anybody on that floor. And well, sometimes just playing hard gets you places. Along with that, Miami held the Nuggets to 44 points in the first half, and that’s a Bam Adebayo compliment as well. Putting up an efficient 18 points in the first half while holding down the defense on the other, it’s a tough job to say the least. But seeing the foot speed and urgency from Adebayo in that first half was big time. It went from Denver running them out to a sustainable lead for Miami pretty quickly.

#2: The bench group providing the spark…

Along those same lines about that turnaround, it came around the time that Miami switched up the early lineup. Kyle Lowry in for Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin in for Kevin Love. And man did the speed of the game immediately shift. Lowry grabs the board and immediately looks up to push. In a game where nothing was pleasant in the half-court to start, he took it upon himself to create some new looks for his group. Martin’s movement, back-door cuts, and on-ball drives was needed as well in his stint. I’m going to get to him next, but Butler’s lack of rim pressure was imitated in a way by Martin. Duncan Robinson did his thing off some hand-offs to get things flowing, and we actually got some Haywood Highsmith minutes. Partly was due to Martin foul trouble, but either way, it was an immediate impact. Some starters like Vincent, Love, and even Butler weren’t as comfortable, which made the bench group impact louder.

#3: Still on Jimmy Butler watch…

To continue on that Jimmy Butler topic, I think there’s been a general shift away from this expectation that he’s going to enter that Superman mode. With the way he’s been looking and moving as of late, it has felt like we’re past that point. Yet when you watched him to start this game, he wasn’t pushing, not much offensive urgency, and still played into Denver’s coverages. The Nuggets switched things up to stay home on shooters and let Butler do all of his operation 1-on-1 downhill. That turned into a whole lot of jump passes that were unnecessary in that opening 24 minutes, since open spot-ups weren’t generated due to them staying home. He was getting two feet in the paint, but he lacked comfort once he got there. The efficiency just hasn’t been there for many reasons.

#4: The third quarter punches…

As the Heat walk into the third quarter with a 7 point lead, all eyes were on how they started. That’s usually how teams can rally back in once the rhythm settles, and we saw Denver claw their way back into things. This time, all behind Nikola Jokic as the creator and scorer. He was taking advantage in the low post and getting his flip shots to go, as Miami was scrambling to find some offensive option to consistently go to. Three point shooting definitely not the thing to rely on, Jimmy Butler no flow, which took us right back to Bam Adebayo. He had some great looks in the paint that rimmed out, but also got a short roll jumper to fall as a great response to a Nuggets run. Late in the quarter, Lowry looks at the clock in a potential 2 for 1 situation, and shoots up a deep 3 that drops. Heat up 1 into the fourth. Punches were thrown, and Miami crawled their way into the final 12.

#5: The fourth quarter…

Onto the fourth quarter with a 1 point lead…oh wait, is that Cody Zeller? A random Zeller minute gets thrown into mix and now the Heat trail by 4 with 11 minutes to go. If you came here thinking I’d provide an answer for that, you thought wrong. Now the Heat have to find a way to dig themselves out of a hole in that building. Tempo picks up, energy kicks in, yet shots did not follow suit. With under 7 minutes to go, the Heat trail by 5 after more Butler trotting around with an inability to convert, as the offense was non-existent. What eventually got things flowing around the 4 minute mark? Butler finally deciding that he can actually get off the ground on his jumpers. Corner spot up, wing pull-up. He was getting so far off the ground with incredible lift. Where has that been? He ends up getting fouled on a 3, follows that up with a turnaround jumper, and gets back to the line again under 2 minutes to go. 13 straight points. Bruce Brown responds with a tip-in, Heat down 1, Butler a chance to take the lead with 30 seconds left and he turned it over. 2 free throws from Denver later, Heat down 3 with 24 seconds left. And Butler misses the right wing triple.

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