Takeaways: Bam Adebayo dominates, HEAT falls short in Toronto
1. Bam Adebayo was dominant, and he was dominant in a perfectly Bam Adebayo way. It often seems like he’s called upon to play outside of himself, to be something he’s not, to take charge of the attack for long stretches. Tonight, he was just a ball of energy. Lobs, catch-and-finishes, a few dribbles here, a few jumpers there. Everything in the flow of the offense. All with relentless chasing on the offensive glass and the usual all-around-all-at-once defense. The numbers — 32 points on 17 shooting, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block — might not jump off the page like an explosive offense totem, but if you wanted to show someone the whole Adebayo’s breadth of play field, this tape is as good as any.
When Miami needed it most, down five in the fourth quarter, Adebayo was there with a drive-thru layup and a coast-to-coast dunk after a steal. With Gabe Vincent at fault, Kyle Lowry out and Toronto unwilling to leave the Miami shooters, Adebayo added to his list of responsibilities by effectively executing the point in the fourth – and he burned Scottie Barnes a few times in the middle of the floor . It wasn’t enough as the HEAT’s half-court offense couldn’t keep up with the downtown styles of Gary Trent Jr. (33 points, 6 of 10 of three), and Miami lost 110-106, but it was a look we haven’t seen often this year.
2. For as many recurring, recurring near-issues the HEAT has had with athletic, long, shifting teams over the past two weeks, you’d have no idea if all you watched was the first half of this one. . You also wouldn’t have known it was the fourth game in five nights. The energy was there and the ball movement (16 assists on 22 shots) pushed the Raptors from their heels as Miami scored 62 points with a 134.1 offensive rating. It was as good as the offense has looked against a capable defense this season.
Then the third quarter (21 points for Miami) unfolded and the Raptors got creative. Nick Nurse switched between different zone looks – Erik Spoelstra sent a few the other way – they sent doubles in good time and they pressed all over the court to run out the clock. It looked like the HEAT was playing against itself. If these teams meet in the playoffs, you’ll see just about every defense style allowed by the rules.
3. Just like we saw in the triple overtime game, the Raptors (118.5 offensive ratings) are more than happy to chase lags for as long as it takes. This time, they barely waited until the first few minutes had passed until they ran every possession through a perceived advantage. Toronto want to make saves and play in transition, and there were plenty of those in their 14-2 run early in the last period, but all the tight games are in the half court and every time they were looking the change they wanted was either finding Trent Jr. someone he could create space against or Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby someone they were stronger than. When the Raptors spent most of three overtime calling Tyler Herro’s number the other night, Herro and the defense behind him more than held their end of the bargain, as only Miami’s offense couldn’t find enough. . This time – and it wasn’t just Herro who was called in the early screens – there just wasn’t enough containment on the ball or help on the player. By allowing 60 points in the second half, the HEAT defense – again, with plenty of probably tired legs – was one step away from their usual goal.