Coup’s Takeaways: HEAT Hits Record High In Phoenix
1. The HEAT had never before hit more than 14 threes in any half of basketball, so of course it makes sense that they follow up the best-shooting month in franchise history (229 makes in December) with another record as they nailed 15 on their way to taking a 71-50 halftime lead, and then tied the franchise record for an entire game with 22. There were no doubt some tough, contested looks along the way but the ball was popping – Omer Yurtseven’s career-high eight assists, with another set of 16 boards, are worth noting – the spacing was perfect, the pace was high and the turnovers were low.
In other words, they did the work creating for themselves an environment in which they could have the best-shooting half in franchise history, then they simply had the follow through to actually do it. You can dial up the three-o-meter as much as you want, but you aren’t going to have record-setting halves without the right process, helped along by a Hall of Fame point guard in Kyle Lowry (13 assists), setting up the shots you’re aiming for. And credit Tyler Herro, who had been mired in a shooting slump for about a week, for finding his offense (33 points on 20 shots) without forcing it, continuing to move off the ball and hunt easy looks.
2. Leading the way in Miami’s three-point charge was Duncan Robinson, who shot 8-of-16 from deep off the bench and hit two huge shots in the middle of the fourth quarter once the Suns shrunk a 27-point lead to 14. Plenty was made about his elongated shooting slump to start the season, but from December 3 on, Robinson is 53-of-125 for 42.4 percent from deep. In other words, Robinson has been the version of himself we’re used to for over a month now.
Max Strus (4-of-8 from three) has been starting the past two games – Robinson was starting before entering health and safety protocols – and playing exceptionally well himself, so it appears Erik Spoelstra has one of those good problems when it comes to divvying up minutes. And that’s not even taking the eventual return of Gabe Vincent from protocols himself.
3. Phoenix appeared to be thrown off by Miami’s defense early on. They started off 4-of-6 from three but then seemed to take the bait that the HEAT defense presents with how much they pack the paint, putting a number of early threes that had them out of their usual offensive flow, one they wouldn’t get back until a brief second-half run. Spoelstra did his usual thing mixing in a couple zone possessions, but it probably goes understated just how zone-ish the HEAT’s man-to-man actually is, at least in the sense that the paint is the primary zone of all five players on the floor. Phoenix only had five attempts at the rim in the first half and 16 for the game. Down Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the HEAT are running a ton of shooting-heavy lineups that don’t exactly include stalwart individual defenders, so they don’t ask anyone to excel in individual defense, sending a ton of help whenever the ball threatens the paint. The Suns missed a number of makeable shots, but with the style of offense Miami is running while they’re shorthanded they don’t need their defense to be anything more than solid.