Coup’s Notebook Vol. 66: Brooklyn Doubles, Highsmith’s Two Technique, Jovic Has The Touch And Bam Is Still The Best

The Miami HEAT are 24-16, No. 5 in the Eastern Conference with a Net Rating of +1.5, No. 13 in the NBA. Here’s what we’ve been noting and noticing.


According to player tracking data – which tends to be very strict on this sort of thing – Bam Adebayo was doubled in the post five times by the Brooklyn Nets Monday night, the second-most post doubles he’s seen in a game in his career. Throw in a couple doubles on face-up isolations, plus a couple more on Jimmy Butler touches, and it was pretty clear Brooklyn had a clear plan to disrupt Miami’s switch-killers against their switching scheme.

Not a bad plan, it turns out. Granted with the HEAT started out 0-of-12 from three and finishing 37.9 percent from the field just about any scheme would have looked good in the end, but given the HEAT’s on-again, off-again struggles against switching – when those threes were falling against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals nobody was talking about the switching – strategizing against Miami’s best one-on-one players is a sound idea.

That’s not what stuck out most about the doubles, however, beyond their sheer existence. It’s how the doubles came. Some teams have tried to get a little cheeky with their doubles this season, bringing them from the baseline in an attempt to pick Adebayo’s pocket – the issue being the primary defender doesn’t seal off the middle so Adebayo would just get into the paint the same as he always would. Some other teams have brought vanilla doubles off the strongside shooter, which gives Adebayo a quick outlet and the HEAT an easy advantage situation, either a quick catch-and-shoot or closeouts to drive.

The Nets, however, brought their doubles from two-passes away and always covered the nearest shooter. These two plays illustrate it best.

Notebook 66: Brooklyn Doubles

The HEAT caught on and made sure to send the entry passer into cuts to try and keep the defense thinking, but the end result was about as complicated a look as Adebayo can see – two defenders defending three on the weakside with multiple hands in your face. And when Adebayo was getting touches near the end of the shot clock to create, those doubles stalled out the offense just long enough to jam up important half-court possessions.

This is much easier to do when you have the personnel of the Nets, who generally switch one-through-five. If you don’t have such a dedicated switching scheme its more difficult to make all those weakside rotations, as the right cuts can leave the wrong players exposed with a bad matchup. Still, it’s good for Adebayo to see this sort of second-level scheme. The more he becomes a reliable isolation and post-up scorer, the more coaches are going to find creative ways to take him out of his comfort zone. And not all doubles are made the same.


Only seven players under 6-foot-8 this season have a Steal Percentage over 2.3 and a Block Percentage over 2.3. One of them, Alex Caruso, is generally regarded as one of the best guard defenders in the league. Jalen Suggs is having a breakout season for the Orlando Magic. Robert Covington is a known commodity around the league, as are Matisse Thybulle and Josh Okogie. Kris Dunn was nearly out of the league entirely before this resurgence in Utah, but he’s always been known as a high-level specialist.

And then there’s Haywood Highsmith who, at 103 regular season games, has had the shortest career of any of them as far as on court minutes. Highsmith still feels like a relative unknown on the national level, despite a handful of look-at-this-guy moments during the Finals run, but the more he plays in Miami the more his name seems an appropriate fit among the league’s best wing defenders.

There are two things that stick out about Highsmith’s defense when you watch him for long enough. The first is that he has great hands and long arms, which is part of why he ends up with so many blocks and steals. Even if he gets beat on a play, he can make a play as he did here against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Notebook 66: Highsmith Hands

And then Highsmith has this Shane Battier-esque skill of being able to stay between the ball and the basket, finishing with a focused contest, no matter how many moves the attacker is chaining together. Later in that same game, Gilgeous-Alexander tried to reverse course mid-drive and watch how Highsmith opens up his hips to stay with him only to stop on a dime and get a hand up to contest.

Notebook 66: Highsmith Feet

Highsmith is not the sort of player who courts a ton of attention. He doesn’t get a stop on a big-name player and go out and talk about it afterwards – in fact his postgame comments often feel like a verbal handshake of respect with whoever he was guarding. That’s just who he is, but being soft spoken shouldn’t prevent someone from joining the echelon in which they belong. Even if he’s only scoring 6.2 points per game this season – P.J. Tucker averaged 7.6 his lone season in Miami – there’s a good chance Highsmith is going to factor into some serious, season-on-the-line moments come April and May.


As the team has dealt with various injuries, Nikola Jovic has started the last seven games in a row and as would be expected for a 20 year old getting the most significant taste of playing time in his career, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. He’s shooting 40.7 percent from three, including a pair of 3-of-5 games, but only 38.8 percent overall. He’s made strides as a system defender who picks the right moments to break scheme and bring help, but strides alone don’t vault you into average defender territory. It’s all part of the process.

What continues to shine is the passing, same as it ever was. You watch any Jovic shift and you’re bound to catch a pass or two that stand out from the other couple hundred which occur in an NBA game. If you aren’t religiously following the ball on each possession, you might even forget Jovic is getting touches because he gets the ball out of his hands so quickly, on to the next open man before anyone else realizes that man is open.

Take this assist, for instance, from this week against the Magic.

Notebook 66: Jovic Touch Pass

Orlando’s zone is a little wonky on that possession, certainly, given that the entire purpose of zone is to limit interior attacks and the Magic – Paolo Banchero should have pulled middle far earlier – give Bam Adebayo, holding his initial screen just long enough to time his cut right, a free run right down the lane. That doesn’t matter for Jovic, though, whose on time, on target touch pass makes the play. Not only do you need extraordinary touch to pull that off, you also have to see the floor developing before it develops.

Maybe this was a set designed on the sideline so Jovic knew it was coming, sets are only designed for players who can pull them off.

There’s still a lot of growth ahead for Jovic, but you’ve never had to look too closely to see the vision when he gets an opportunity.


These numbers are ever fluid, but as of Monday there are 133 players who have defended at least 70 isolation possessions and Bam Adebayo leads them all allowing just 0.67 points-per-isolation. And if you take out assist opportunities – those are included in tracking data because if a defender gets beat and draws help, that defender is responsible for the defense tilting and thus giving up an open shot – Adebayo is allowing just 0.59 points-per.

Last year we did a deep dive into why Adebayo was defending fewer isolations than usual, and there were two reasons for it. First, teams had most certainly learned The Lesson at that point and there were fewer players jumping headfirst into that particular wall. Generally, the players who still went at Adebayo were either young players who didn’t yet know any better or elite-level offensive players who didn’t always have a choice as they shouldered the shot creation burden. Second, without a full complement of switchable players on the roster Erik Spoelstra had started using more and more drop coverage, along with record-setting levels of zone, which meant less of Adebayo on the perimeter against ballhandlers.

Adebayo is facing even fewer isolations this season, 3.4 per 100 – lowest since his rookie year – down from 3.8 last season and a career-high of 6.1 in 2021-22. Sure enough, Adebayo is switching fewer screens than in any season since his rookie year, too, down to 4.9 per 100 possessions from 12.0 last year and 17.1 in 2021-22, with all the losses in the switch category essentially transferred over to the drop coverage column.

“Yeah it’s a wrinkle,” Adebayo said recently when asked about the reduced switching. “But, bigger picture. Spo has that bigger picture in mind. I feel like best thing for us is go with what he wants. He’s one of the Hall of Fame coaches and I’m going to ride with my coach.”

It hasn’t really been worth investigating this further until the team finally gets most of its rotation together. Put Adebayo in lineups with Jimmy Butler, Highsmith, Caleb Martin and Kyle Lowry and we probably see a bit more switching. Adebayo has had to pull triple duty in some lineups, but we’ll see how this all shakes out now that there appears to be a little more health on the road ahead.


-During Dwyane Wade’s Hall of Fame night on Sunday, Pat Riley announced that Wade would be getting a statue out front of Kaseya Center later this year. Teams tend to be incredibly picky about statues, and the fact is there just aren’t very many of them around the league. The most famous is Michael Jordan’s in Chicago, then the Lakers have a handful for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West with a Kobe Bryant statue also coming this year. There are Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Irving statues in Philadelphia, one for Dominique Wilkins in Atlanta, and both John Stockton and Karl Malone have statues in Salt Lake City. In other words, you have to be royalty in your city to qualify, and Wade most certainly qualifies.

-It’s hardly worth pointing out anymore since it happens each season, but Miami is No. 29 in pace at 97.9 possessions per game, with both their offensive and defense possessions taking just about the same amount of time (~14.8 seconds on average).

-Miami might be one of the best teams in the league at forcing turnovers, which should improve now that Jimmy Butler is back in the rotation, but they’re No. 30 in scoring on possessions that begin with a live-ball turnover, scoring 1.19 points-per-possession. Last season they were No. 26 on those same possessions.