The Miami Heat fell short late against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Despite another great Jimmy Butler performance, the Heat couldn’t close the deal. Washington erased a 16-point deficit to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Miami’s offense became stagnant and the Heat took too many jumpers. Spencer Dinwiddie and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both hurt Miami from downtown. Caldwell-Pope’s four-point play changed the momentum of the game in the Wizards’ favor. With the loss, Miami falls to 11-6 for the regular season. Here are my four takeaways from Miami’s loss to Washington.
First Half Three-Point Shooting Struggles Continue
Just like Wednesday, the Heat struggled from downtown. Miami shot 1-of-14 from three-point range in the first half. Outside of Tyler Herro‘s three-point field goal, the team couldn’t get a shot to fall. Miami finished the half with 43 points and a two-point lead. Despite the shooting struggles, Miami continued to play hard and fight through it. P.J. Tucker kept giving the Heat multiple offensive possessions. However, the shooting struggles can put the team in a tough spot to win. So, Miami is going to need those shots to fall. Especially from guys like Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson.
Butler Continues to Shine
Butler has been playing elite basketball all season. For one, his scoring has gone up from previous seasons. Butler continued to punish the Wizards with his post fadeaways and attacks at the rim. Some of the shots he was taking were very tough. The new team has given him more new spots to operate. Additionally, his defense is still at a high level. He continued to play the passing lanes, handle his one-on-one assignments, and provide help on the double-teams. Butler finished the night with 29 points and five rebounds. While Stephen Curry may be the favorite to win the most valuable player award, Butler deserves to be in that conversation as well. He’s been that good.
After missing Wednesday’s contest, Herro was back in action on Saturday. As expected, he started the game off rusty by shooting 3-of-10 from the field. The shots he took were a little flat. But after converting his first three-pointer, he got going. He hit two triples in transition in the second half and then got his midrange game going. The improved scoring in the stats column may get a lot of noise but it’s the reads against defensive coverages that’s been impressive. Unfortunately, Herro was picked on the other end of the floor in the fourth quarter. The Wizards kept taking him off the dribble on nearly every possession. Herro finished the night with 20 points and five rebounds.
Tucker Remains a Bright Spot
Miami may have gotten a free agency steal in Tucker. Despite the early criticisms about his age and contract, Tucker has been providing a great defensive presence on a nightly basis. He played a huge role in helping Miami keep the game close in the first half. While the team was struggling with their offense, the multiple effort plays by Tucker provided extra possessions. Then in the second half, he got his scoring going. He hit two back-to-back corner threes from the same spot. With Tucker hitting a high percentage from the corner, it makes the defense think twice about leaving him open. So far, he’s making them pay. Tucker finished the night with 14 points and five rebounds.
Next up: The Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. The game tips off at 7:30 pm EST.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23
Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremycguerin