Both the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls came into Saturday’s game shorthanded. The Bulls were missing seven players due to Covid-19 protocols. On the other side, Miami was missing five key players due to injuries. Despite this, the game still had to be played. Once again, Miami had plenty of guys stepping up. Miami led throughout the whole game and never looked back. With the win, Miami moves to 16-11 for the season. Here are four takeaways from Saturday’s win over the Bulls.
Lowry’s Passing Game
Heat point guard Kyle Lowry had one of his better performances on Saturday night. He came out shooting the ball well, especially from downtown. More importantly, his passing game was excellent. Lowry had 12 assists in the first half alone with no turnovers. He kept driving into the paint and dishing it out to shooters. His first turnover came in the third period when he overthrew a pass to P.J. Tucker on the role. It’s been a struggle for Lowry to adjust to his new team. However, he’s really stepped up with his aggressiveness over the past few games. Lowry finished the night with 16 points and 14 assists.
Duncan Leading the Way
Like Lowry, Duncan Robinson has faced a lot of struggles this season. For Robinson, it was the shooting struggles, particularly at home. Entering Saturday’s game, Robinson was shooting 21 percent from downtown at home. But, Saturday was a different story. After making his first shot off a mid-range jumper, Robinson punished the Bulls from beyond the arc. In the first quarter, he shot 3-4 from downtown and scored 13 points. The footwork was there and he was catching the ball in rhythm. He also scored in the paint a couple of times off of cuts. This was arguably Robinson’s best performance of the season. He ended the night with 26 points.
With Bam Adebayo out, Dewayne Dedmon has been solid in his new role as a starter. He’s been great as a screener, roller, and rebounder. Against the Bulls, he showed off his three-point range as well. Dedmon hit two three-pointers in the first half. He has shot from beyond the arc before when he was playing for the Atlanta Hawks. But with key players out, it’s been needed even more. Most importantly, he outplayed Nikola Vucevic, who has historically punished Miami. Dedmon ended the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds. A year ago, he was looking for an NBA team to sign him. Now, he’s become a vital role player. This was a great find for Miami.
Okpala’s New Role
It’s been a struggle for KZ Okpala throughout his first three seasons in the league. Miami had visions of him being a key rotational player who can play both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, the transition on both sides of the floor at the NBA level hasn’t been easy. However, he may have found some success as a small-ball center. Playing alongside Tucker has helped make the transition a lot easier. The two players can switch defensively and close out on the perimeter. They both did a terrific job on the struggling Vucevic. If Okpala can keep this up, he will definitely be useful for Miami with key players out. He’s already beginning to earn the trust of his coach.
Next up: The Cleveland Cavaliers. The game tips off at 7:30 pm eastern.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23