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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Wizards
Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Wizards
Jul 18, 2024 1:46 PM

The Miami Heat took down the Washington Wizards on Monday night, and they were without Tyler Herro due to some knee soreness.

There were some up and downs early, but Jimmy Butler controlled, and the young bench group stepped up big to expand that lead.

Anyway, here are some takeaways from this one…

#1: The first half up and downs.

The Heat came out swinging to start this game, finding the appropriate exploitable match-ups on the floor, beginning with the coveted Duncan Robinson DHO. The reasoning was due to them facing drop coverage once again, which always leaves Robinson with a potential explosion. I’ll discuss the other offensive reasons they got out in front next, but a quick fall-out occurred in the second quarter, leaving Erik Spoelstra running on the court to call a timeout early on like he knew what was coming. The first thing was just not taking care of the ball, and bad looking turnovers had the Wizards getting easy buckets on the other end. But a very odd element was to see Miami’s defense start so strong, then go downhill. They were doubling hard and hitting passing lanes in that first quarter, but the second quarter story was major defensive miscommunications. Not talking on screens, allowing them to dictate switches, and just poor close-outs. It was just for a stretch, but those are the things that can lead to a huge run in the other direction, which happened.

#2: Big Gabe Vincent offensive punch early on.

As I said in my last post-game piece, Gabe Vincent has been outstanding at filling the role of Kyle Lowry in the starting lineup over recent weeks, but his best minutes continue to come next to Lowry instead. In this one, Vincent enters, and man was he shooting that ball. He had back to back pull-up triples in that stretch, and they were from deep, which was almost Lowry-esque just due to pulling it with confidence in transition. Big picture, discussing playoff lineups or rotations is weird due to the unknown of who will be available, but it’s clear the rotation will shrink. With that said, Vincent will be the perfect filler whenever they need a specific boost in perimeter defense, while also providing quite the offensive versatility. It’ll be interesting when that time comes, but for now, what a story Vincent has been in terms of climbing the ranks after going undrafted, then climbing those ranks even further once again.

#3: Jimmy Butler, the release valve, once again for Miami.

Who was the other person to not only get Miami in front early, but keep the steady pace as Washington edged back? Jimmy Butler. Most of it is just Butler doing Butler things in terms of bulldozing his way down the lane and scoring around the rim, but when zooming out into the actions being run, he was their release valve. We saw a bunch of inverted pick and rolls with Lowry, and that’s due to the need to draw the mismatch, then execute it in isolation. Butler began to do that, even throwing in some unique counters on Deni Avdija when in the mid-post, but it’s just so crucial to see this play out two games in a row. There will be smaller teams, or switchy teams like Charlotte, who Miami could see in the playoffs, and man will that have ‘Butler series’ written all over it. That’s when he’s at his best, but it’s also their offensive savior when things begin to get broken up in their base sets.

#4: A Bam Adebayo third quarter shift.

To continue on Miami’s plan of Butler attacking smaller guards, although that was their base, they didn’t have anything to revert to at times. Kyle Lowry still isn’t looking to score, PJ Tucker just takes what comes to him in that corner, and Duncan Robinson was a bit up and down. With that said, all eyes are on Bam Adebayo to do something as the Wizards creep back in. And he did just that. A big time third quarter was filled with some gifted dunks on the roll to start it off, but things trended back in the direction of what we saw the previous two games. One play, he got the deep seal on a smaller guy, which he then turned right into that post hook with no kick-out crossing his mind. The next play, they insert it into him for a post split, but it turns into iso mode on the clear-out, where he drives off the face-up leading to a foul. These aggressive scoring spurts are the stand-out moments of this past week for this Heat team.

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#5: A little winning streak before the trade deadline.

Tonight’s win over Washington was their third straight win, and it’s a pretty good time to start streaking. This was the final game before the trade deadline on Thursday, and well, I wouldn’t expect many things to change. The Heat could end up making some marginal upgrades to find that back-up 4 as PJ Tucker protection, but simply their rotation seems pretty set. A move that seems most likely is maybe sending a piece out to upgrade Caleb Martin’s contract from two-way to a normal roster spot. Either way, this Heat team sits atop the East with so many guys missing time, but the emergence of these young guys is just the most settling part. If guys go down, there’s protection. If they need to plug a certain skill in a series, there’s protection. They’re in a great spot, and the vets haven’t even hit their main strides.

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