Coup’s Takeaways: HEAT Hold Off Sixers To Take 2-0 Series Lead Behind Team-Wide Scoring Effort
1. Another convincing victory for Miami as they took a 2-0 series lead. They let Philadelphia hang around a little longer than they did in Game 1, but the second-half haymaker still came and the result was another double-digit victory, 119-103. Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo all played to their standards while Victor Oladipo – 19 points, a couple big shots in the fourth – again contributed on both ends.
The 76ers got a better James Harden performance – better, but not great – with P.J. Tucker again face-guarding and picking up fullcourt after makes, as he put up 20 points with nine assists (though it took 15 shots). They also got positive stretches from Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey (34 points, a lightning bolt in the open floor). They just didn’t get the complimentary shooting they needed (8-of-30 from thee), and against Miami’s scheme you need that complimentary shooting. The HEAT shot 14-of-29 from deep – plus-18 on points from threes in a 16-point game – and are now 31-2 this season when shooting at least 40 percent behind the arc.
Philadelphia did find more to work with in this one. They were still -11 when either center, DeAndre Jordan or Paul Reed, was on the floor and that’s the lack of Embiid, but they got downhill more often, pushed in transition and their shot quality was much improved. But solutions can sometimes be double-edged, as leaning into the playing smaller lineups that have been 76ers best options has also meant playing lineups that haven’t been used very often, and that lack of experience keeps showing up on defense where Miami is able to answer every run with plenty of good looks of their own. There might be some pieces from Game 2 that matter as the series goes on the road, but not tonight.
2. Tyler Herro, with 18 points on 10 shots that look more quiet than they were, has effectively been flawless through two games. At times he’s made it look easy. At times it actually has been easy, as he’s been able to comfortably attack all of the pick-and-roll drop coverage the 76ers are playing, giving up plenty of space to get to his jumper. At other times, the 76ers have just forgotten about him as he stands on the wing for a wide open three. But it isn’t actually easy, of course. You don’t just wake up in the morning ready to punish drop coverage. All of the work Herro has put in over his first three seasons has translated to a player who looks entirely comfortable winning his opportunities in the second round of the playoffs – all while making the difficult shots, the leaning jumpers with a hand in his face, along the way. This was always going to be a Herro series going into it because of how the 76ers defend. Credit is due to Herro for making good on that need.
3. The HEAT have the larger margin for error in this series with Joel Embiid out. There’s no getting around that point. Every time they come down the floor, there are multiple pressure points for them to attack, whether it’s Philadelphia’s backup centers who have been forced into a larger workload in Embiid’s absence, the shooters that they’re playing to try and generate space for James Harden or the smaller lineups they’re using to grease the offensive wheels. Miami’s halfcourt offense isn’t always perfect – though they managed a very-good 107.1 points-per-play tonight – but through these first two games they have always had an avenue toward a good shot. Embiid is supposed to be the protector for all that pressure. Without him, the HEAT have too many options.
Meanwhile, Miami’s entire defense is construction to protect their pressure points. Whoever the Harden’s and Maxey’s and Harris’ draw on a switch, there is always help waiting in the gaps. Players like Max Strus and Herro have stepped up and been solid one-on-one, but it helps that they don’t have to worry about getting beat off the dribble so much because of the help behind them. Philadelphia found far more success with quick-hitter attacks off ball movement as opposed to slower matchup hunting.