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The Miami Heat began this season with legitimate championship aspirations and they got off to a strong start in their season opener, pounding the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks 137-95. They led by 23 points after the first quarter and never really looked back.
There were absolutely some flukey variables that pushed this from solid victory into obscene blowout — the Bucks were without Jrue Holiday, Giannis exited early in the first quarter with a pair of fouls, and the Bucks went 2-of-13 on 3-pointers in the first quarter. But the Heat also demonstrated how dangerous they can be and how improved offensive depth can take them to the next level.
Tyler Herro could be a game-changer for the Miami Heat
The acquisition of Kyle Lowry is the biggest addition to the Heat’s offensive arsenal but at this point in his career, his value comes mostly in adding balance, another complementary threat who is comfortable creating or playing off the ball depending on the matchup. All that is to say, it’s about scaffolding — quality play from Butler and the Heat’s other creators will help Lowry be more effective and vice versa.
This is why it was so encouraging for the Heat to see Tyler Herro emerge as the star of this season-opening victory.
Herro had 8 points and 2 assists in the Heat’s explosive first quarter and finished the game with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 10-of-18 from the field, all in just 24 minutes. Stretch that pace of production across a more standard 36 minutes of playing time and you get 40.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
Herro finished the game with 18 field goal attempts, as many as Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry combined. He played roughly the same number of minutes as Lowry but had the ball in his hands slightly longer and a slightly longer average touch time. His 10 drives produced four made baskets and another two assists, and he was 4-of-9 on pull-up jumpers. This was legitimately as strong an offensive performance as we’ve seen from Herro, a well-rounded effort showing off his on- and off-ball shooting, his dribble penetration and his increasingly impressive vision.
Herro struggled through injuries last season and still increased his efficiency in a few key areas. If he’s healthy this season and continuing to improve he could be the linchpin for the Heat, a special shooter who is also capable of toggling into a lead creation role making sure that Lowry and Butler don’t have to shoulder the load alone.
The Mavericks offense already looks broken
I am not one for bold proclamations and hot takes but I feel comfortable saying Jason Kidd is going to be an abject disaster for the Dallas Mavericks. In the preseason he talked about a willingness to incorporate more mid-range jumpers in the team’s offense. It played out in their preseason stats and it was on full display in the 26-point thumping they took at the hands of the Hawks.
Dallas was 7-of-31 on 2-pointers outside the restricted area and attempted 20 pull-up jumpers inside the arc. Luka Doncic had a rough shooting night but there are no system concerns with him taking pull-up jumpers from anywhere. Getting 11 pull-up 2-point attempts from Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson is a bit more problematic.
Mid-range shots are a nearly unavoidable slice of any team’s shot selection but those with the healthiest offenses ensure that those shots are mostly pull-ups (spotting up inside the arc for catch-and-shoot 2s just cramps spacing) and that they’re taken by primary creators who are very good at them. There’s really only one player on this team who should be shooting them with any regularity and that’s Luka Doncic.
The perception of what constitutes a good shot for the Mavs already appears to have been warped by Kidd and it’s going to be an ongoing issue.
No one does the pass that sets up the pass like the Golden State Warriors
Through two games, the Warriors’ shooting percentages haven’t been great but they’ve picked up two wins and the system appears to be rounding into form. They are again among the league leaders in passes and potential assists per game, as well as what’s become a hallmark of theirs in the Steve Kerr/Stephen Curry era — the secondary assist.
This stat is included in the NBA’s player tracking stats package and is a pass that, within 2 seconds of being made, leads directly to another pass and an assist (read: a pass that is quickly passed again for a made shot). The Warriors have already registered nine of these in two games, a pace that would have led the league in four of the past six seasons. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, the Warriors have also led the league in secondary assists in four of the past six seasons and over that span have an enormous cumulative lead on any other team.
Dwight Howard seems like the only real glaring omission from the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, but I’m not sure who you take off to make room for him?
If you’re a masochist who wants to read more about red flags in the Mavericks’ offense, Josh Bowe has you covered.
If you didn’t stay up for the late game, you missed an epic first-quarter explosion from Steph Curry. For 12 minutes, he looked ready to threaten Wilt.