The Miami Heat had a great opportunity to get closer to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the Atlanta Hawks had other plans. The Hawks had control for most of the game, leading by as many as 18 points. Miami was sloppy with the ball and a step slow on the defensive end. The Heat were able to climb back into the game late in the fourth to cut the lead to one point before a missed bunny by Jimmy Butler ended up hurting them in the end. With the loss, Miami falls to 29-17 for the season.
Here are my takeaways from Friday’s loss to Atlanta.
There was no Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, or P.J. Tucker in this one. Tucker played in the first period before exiting thanks to a knee injury. Miami’s offense suffered a bit without all three players. There were stretches in the game where Herro’s scoring was missed, especially with the second unit. Lowry’s playmaking ability and great reads were also needed in this one. In the end, Miami still had opportunities to walk away with the win. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t take advantage of them. A missed layup off a great play and a contested three-pointer to win the game was not ideal.
Without Herro, the Heat were going to need more scoring from Butler, but he was not playing like himself on the offensive end. The shot creation was just not there for him on Friday night. He missed a couple of bunnies near the basket that he would normally make. One of those missed shots could have given Miami its first lead since the first quarter. For most of the night, Butler was passive. The Heat needed more from him, and he didn’t have it on Friday. He finished the night with 13 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.
Bam Aggressive Late
It was a quiet first half for Bam Adebayo on the offensive end. He did a lot of dribble handoffs to get his shooters going, but wasn’t looking for his shot early on. Of course, that changed in the second half when he put the ball down on the floor and started drawing fouls. The jumpers were going in for him, as well. He used his quickness to get by defenders and attack the basket. Bam also scored off of dive cuts to the basket from the pick-and-roll actions. Overall, this was a good all-around game for the Heat center. Since his return, he’s been looking more and more comfortable with his game. Adebayo finished the night with 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Yurt and Bam Lineup
The game already had a bit of a weird feel to it. It became even more weird in the third quarter. With Miami sidelining Tucker for the second half, they started Omer Yurtseven alongside Adebayo. This was the first time the two centers played together in the same lineup. Defensively, it was intriguing. The Heat had Yurtseven dropping on pick-and-rolls while Adebayo was switching out on the perimeter. It did give Miami more size early on against the Hawks front line. Offensively, it was challenging with the alignment, as both Adebayo and Yurtseven are not floor-spacers. Should Tucker miss any time, Miami could go with this lineup a little more. It certainly was a different look.
Next Up: The Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Game tips off at 6pm EST.
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Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremycguerin