Wednesday was not a great day for the Miami Heat. Earlier in the day, they received news of their punishment in the Kyle Lowry tampering investigation. Then, there was news of Bam Adebayo being out for weeks due to thumb surgery. Playing shorthanded, Miami had their hands full against the lengthy Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland did a great job of punishing the Heat for playing small. They also protected the paint. Miami made a few runs to make it interesting. However, the Cavaliers pulled it out in the end. Miami falls to 13-9 for the season. Here are my takeaways from Wednesday’s loss against Cleveland.
Dewayne Dedmon Provides Good Minutes
Losing Adebayo was always going to hurt the Heat. As a hybrid big, Adebayo does everything for the team from playmaking to defending all positions. With Adebayo out, Dedmon moved into the starting lineup. While he isn’t Adebayo, Dedmon still provided good minutes. He attacked the boards, dished a few assists, and scored a couple of times. Dedmon finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much backup help for him. Miami went small in the minutes Dedmon was off the floor. KZ Okpala and P.J. Tucker shared minutes at the backup center position. They were too small for the lengthy Cavaliers. Cleveland outrebounded Miami 46-28.
Tyler Herro Returns
Miami’s best scoring guard, Herro, was back in action on Wednesday. Without Jimmy Butler and Adebayo, Miami was going to need his scoring. Unlike Herro’s previous games, the defensive schemes against him were different. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Herro had been guard by good individual defenders, saw traps against him, and even double teams. However, Cleveland provided a different look. With a starting frontcourt with heights 6’11” and higher, Cleveland had Lauri Markkenen guarding Herro a couple of times. This forced Herro to attack the basket more and dribble a lot more. He still had 15 first-half points but they weren’t easy. Still, he was able to score at a high level. Herro ended the night with 21 points and six assists.
Duncan Robinson Scoreless
Without their two leading players, the Heat were going to need more from its supporting players, especially Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson didn’t offer much in this one. His three-point shooting struggles continued at home. He was 0-7 from beyond the arc, ending his 69 game three-point shooting streak. Robinson continues to miss open shots. When it comes to his shooting struggles, it’s easy to tell that it’s all mental. Whenever he’s open, he’s thinking too much before releasing it. Robinson has to find a way to overcome his shooting struggles. Or else, this is going to get worse for both him and the team.
Max Strus Remains Loose
Robinson may be struggling with his shooting, but Strus isn’t. While Robinson struggles, Strus seems to be taking the lead as the No. 1 sniper on the team. Strus seems to have no fear or second thought about shooting. He just lets the ball fly, and that’s all Miami needs. He provided a big spark offensively in the first half, even though Miami still trailed big. Strus had 10 first-half points, second behind Herro’s 15 points. Those 10 first-half points would be Strus’ final points for the game. Still, he has been more consistent than Robinson the past few games.
Back-to-back Strus 3s has the crowd HYPE! pic.twitter.com/opF8JZsPME
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 2, 2021
Next up: The Indiana Pacers on Friday. The game tips off at 7 pm eastern time.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23
Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremycguerin