Coup's Notebook Vol. 36: Tyler Herro Finds His Equilibrium, The Clutch Never Stops And An Unlearned Lesson

The Miami HEAT are 15-15, No. 7 on defense and No. 27 on offense with a Net Rating of -1.4, No. 22 in the league. They’re about to finish up their four-game road trip in Mexico City before returning home for four more. Here’s what we’ve been noting and noticing.


So, Tyler Herro. Short of the truly generational scorers (Curry, Durant, Luka, etc.…) you’d be hard pressed to find many players who have shot the ball as well as Herro has over the past two games. He drops nine threes and 35 points against Oklahoma City, capped off by a game winner, and follows it up with a career-best – regular season or postseason – 41 at Houston with a franchise-tying best 10 threes. Of the 25 shots he hit, 24 of them were jumpers outside of the paint. And of those 24 makes, only seven of them even touched the rim. Herro effectively put up the jump-shooting version of John Carpenter’s run as a director from 1976 to 1994.

Heck, he even became the third player in NBA history to hit at least nine threes in consecutive games, joining Steph Curry and James Harden. And he did it on a road back-to-back. His true shooting percentage over those two games? 82.5.

Before this two-game piece-de-resistance, Herro was having, on paper, a nearly identical season to last one when he won Sixth Man of the Year. Lower usage, marginally higher efficiency, about equal everywhere else including playmaking and free-throw rate. Difference was he became a full-time starter alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He’s had to figure out a bit where to fit in rather than having a lineup designed to fit around him. There was never too much of a concern – and in reality that starting lineup has been pretty good, all things considered – given how incredible he was off the catch last season, and especially on one-dribble relocation shots, but that fit has clearly been on the minds of Erik Spoelstra and Herro since training camp given how much they’ve discussed him playing off the ball.

“That’s what they’ve been emphasizing,” Herro said in Oklahoma City.

“He’s too good of a shooter for him not to hunt out open threes off the catch,” Spoelstra said in Houston. “Tonight he had a few off the dribble, but last night he had more of them off the catch and I think when we’re fully healthy he has to continue to be assertive in those opportunities. He’s a brilliant shooter off the dribble and off the catch.”

In that context, what stands out beyond the gaudy numbers, the franchise and career highs, is this: over the course of two games, one without Butler and one without Adebayo, Herro attempted exactly 16 threes off the catch and 16 threes off the dribble. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Granted, it’s not an even comparison in practice because those one-dribble relocations are logged as pull-ups when in reality they’re spot-up opportunities with defenders flying at Herro on a closeout, but the point stands. As he split his time spacing, moving and handling, Herro’s usage didn’t even climb north of 30 as it so often would have a year ago. He wasn’t just balancing on and off the ball, he balanced how he could make his mark on the game even when the team was short a playmaker or two or three. Trading some mid-range two pointers for threes helps along the way. Having the patience and composure to create opportunities without the ball in his hands is the mature, incremental skip ahead that leads to a young player having a best-ever +5.2 offensive differential when he’s on the court. It also helps when you're shooting 47 percent on 4.5 dribble threes a night.

Not every team is going to defend like the Thunder and Rockets. Herro got to enjoy a season-high 22 closeout situations over those two games, with the defense sometimes choosing to closeout on weaker shooters before remembering in desperation that Herro’s jumper had recently been dipped in the River Styx and drained of all its land-born mortality. The HEAT’s offense, even with Herro tossing around the six-demon bag, was barely above water during this back-to-back (with missing players in both). The team has work to do on the scoring end of things, and even players who go supernova don’t get to dodge the spotlight which comes from interrogating those results. We’ll see what Spoelstra’s recent rotation tweak to pull Herro earlier in the first and third quarters really means once the team gets healthy.

That’s all long term. Why Wednesday and Thursday’s performances were so impressive wasn’t just that Herro saved Miami from possibly two more disappointing losses, but that there was a great balancing in his game. The two talented wolves within him working in equal harmony. If Miami’s offense is going to surge, that’s the Herro it’ll take. Not the one making everything. The one capitalizing on every opportunity.


As of Friday morning, with each of their past five games decided by five points or less, the HEAT have played 21 clutch games – games within five in the last five minutes – in 30 tries. That’s an even 70 percent of their games, putting them on pace for about 57 clutch games this season. No team in the past 25 years, as far back as we can check without diving in for more than it would be worth, has played more than 58 clutch games.

Good week and a good season, then, for the NBA announcing that they are adding a Clutch Player of the Year award to their slate, named after Jerry West. Especially with two players, Herro and Jimmy Butler, who figure to be right in the thick of the conversation.

The resumé for Butler? Despite missing seven of Miami’s close games, he’s tied for fifth in the league – with Donovan Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox – with 55 clutch points as he’s shooting 57 percent after a few years where the small-sample percentages were unkind to him until the postseason.

Herro doesn’t have the percentages, but he does have two game winners – the three against Sacramento and the pull-up against Oklahoma City – which puts him in a tie with Joel Embiid, Jerami Grant and AJ Griffin for shots to tie or take the lead in the final 24 seconds of the fourth or overtime. Not enough to be a separator, but I guarantee you whoever leads in that category at the end of the season is going to get votes.

(Herro also has four such final shot clock shots in his career, which ties him with Adebayo, Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen on the HEAT leaderboard that is led by Dwyane Wade with 29.)

Would it behoove the HEAT to start winning games more decisively at some point? Definitely. Even at 15-15 they’re still No. 22 in Net Rating because the wins are by such narrow margins. Things are never as bad as they look and feel when you lose three games in a row by a combined 12 points, and they’re never as good as they look and feel when all those endorphins hit after winning three in a row by a combined 11 points. That’s the emotional trap of clutch games that always requires more clean eyes than full hearts to see through – but it’s always better to win them than not.

And if you can win an award along the way, then why not?


Monday night’s game against the Pacers was strange. Not because it was so incredibly low scoring. That’s weird, but it happens.

With the team sort-of, kind-of starting to get relatively healthy, at least insofar as Jimmy Butler being back and Oladipo making his debut, Erik Spoelstra has started to drift away from leading the league in zone – Thursday’s center-less game again Houston notwithstanding – and leaning back to the switching defense that has always been Miami at its best in the Adebayo era. In the last week alone Adebayo has had his three games with more switches all year, 21 against the Spurs, 16 against the Pistons and another 16 against the Pacers. Much more in line with Adebayo’s switch rate last season.

The other team still has to play ball, of course, and most teams haven’t. Even in the second game against Boston a couple weeks ago, when Butler returned and Miami went back to man-to-man, Adebayo only switched three screens – largely because the Celtics barely involved Adebayo in pick-and-roll at all as they stashed him along the baseline on Al Horford. And then there are the games where, like Detroit in that fourth quarter after Killian Hayes stopped going at Adebayo, teams get Adebayo to switch and then reverse the ball away from that matchup.

Indiana tried to do some of that, to no avail. They didn’t exactly have a ton of ballhandling options, but after drawing the switch and most often failing to get the ball into Myles Turner on a smaller defender – Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin and Butler can all be a royal pain fronting a center – the ball would inevitably swing back to Haliburton, waiting with the Adebayo matchup.

Notebook Vol. 36: Bam Switching Onto Haliburton

This wasn’t every possession. The Pacers weren’t attacking Adebayo thinking he’s a mismatch, but they were unable to shed him – unless they also stashed Myles Turner in the corner – to a degree that allowed Adebayo to cast his shadow over the entire game.

Why is that all so strange, apart from being a problem most teams are trying to avoid these days? Haliburton himself noted, about a month ago, on The Old Man And The Three podcast with JJ Redick what a bad idea that matchup was.

“There’s still aspects where I go back and I’m watching film and I’m like, ‘Wow, I missed that,’” Haliburton said. “We played Miami the other night, down the stretch I’m so used to calling the five into a high ball screen. I got Max Strus on me and I’m waving Bam Adebayo to come switch. And [looking back] I felt like, ‘Why am I calling Bam Adebayo into it?”

Haliburton finished with one of the worst games of his career, shooting 0-of-9 on his way to just one point and six assists. Some of those possessions were at the end of a shot clock when Haliburton had no choice, but even then the lack of off-ball movement all but guaranteed Adebayo would often be on Indiana’s star playmaker in those emergency situations.

Miami barely escaped with a win because of their own offensive issues, but any chance Adebayo – still defending the fewest isolations of his career as a starter – gets to shut down another star guard these days is worth a note. Different rosters make it more viable for some than others, but most teams are figuring out a way around him.


-There will be time to talk more about Victor Oladipo down the line. The offense hasn’t quite been there, despite some important threes falling, as he gets his legs underneath him, but what he has shown is how good of a fit he can be in a defensive system that emphasizes guards helping into driving lanes. Oladipo’s hands on defense are spectacular, and even though his +8.2 differential when he plays has a bit to do with the quality of opponent Miami has been playing for the past week, there’s no doubt that he can help shore up a man-to-man defense that has been inconsistent to this point.

-Miami’s shooting is slowly creeping back toward league average, now No. 21 at 34.2 percent, but their two-point shooting is sinking a bit at the same time, now down to No. 24 at 52.8 percent.

-Four players – Brian Shaw, Mario Chalmers, Duncan Robinson and Herro – can now lay claim to Miami’s franchise record of 10 threes in a game. My vote goes for nobody ever breaking that record and for that list to just keep growing and growing. Weird records are good records.