Film Breakdown: How Kelly Olynyk Torched Hawks in the 2nd Quarter
The Miami Heat wrapped up their home-and-home with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. Miami won both contests, but it took a little while to get there.
On Tuesday, a back-and-forth affair ensued until Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson made big plays down the stretch to eek out a 101-98, playoff-clinching victory. Wednesday night’s final score (115-86) was ugly, but the game didn’t come that easily to Miami.
The first half looked like a repeat of Tuesday night’s script. The Hawks forced turnovers, scored in transition, and knocked down some threes they probably had no business hitting. It wasn’t until the second quarter that Miami really found their offensive rhythm, thanks to a random hot streak from Kelly Olynyk.
Olynyk, who was relatively quiet on Tuesday night (eight points on 4-of-10 shooting), found his shooting stroke. He torched Atlanta for 15 points in the second quarter, with all five of his buckets coming from behind the arc. Miami posted a 123.4 offensive rating in the quarter with Olynyk on the court, using his scoring outburst to take a 53-47 lead at the half. Miami didn’t look back, outscoring Atlanta 62-39 the rest of the way.
How did it happen? How on earth could a team, even a tanking one, keep losing track of a lumbering white guy with a man bun? Solid offensive execution, some improvisational ability, and poor defense from Atlanta led to the floodgates being opened. Let’s take a look at all five of Olynyk’s triples and see how they came about.
The action starts with a simple ball reversal in an effort to shift Atlanta’s matchup zone. Bam Adebayo screens Josh Magette as Josh Richardson finds Wayne Ellington, then Ellington pings the ball to Justise Winslow in the corner.
Adebayo’s dive to the rim is what really kicks things off. As he rumbles inside, Mike Muscala has to help from the corner in order to tag Adebayo. Otherwise, Winslow would be able to take advantage of Dwayne Dedmon in a 2-on-1 situation along the baseline.
With Muscala tagging Adebayo, Olynyk relocates to the corner. Winslow makes the easy skip pass, and Olynyk cans the open triple.
Atlanta bothered Miami on Tuesday when they went to the zone, but Miami looked much more comfortable finding cracks and getting open looks on Wednesday. On the year, Miami ranks 12th in offensive efficiency against zone, and ranks tied for 8th in field goal percentage (48.8). Those aren’t world-beater numbers, but they’re fine. There is a 100 percent chance that Miami will see some zone looks if they end up facing Boston in round one — they’ve done so in the regular season matchups — so getting those reps should help down the road.
Atlanta shifts back to man defense, so Miami reverts back to one of their pet actions with Ellington. Adebayo receives the ball on the right block as Olynyk sets a flare screen for Ellington. Ellington loves taking that fading triple in the corner, but his defender recovers before taking the shot, forcing Ellington to give up the rock.
Ellington then veers back to screen for Olynyk, creating a short-but-deadly blip of miscommunication for Atlanta. Dedmon, a good interior defender but a guy that has no business defending in space, ends up getting caught in traffic as Ellington clears out. That gives Olynyk all the airspace he needs to can the three as the shot clock winds down.
More Elbow action, more miscommunication for the Hawks.
Adebayo is on the left block this time to survey the action. Justise Winslow dives, then Rodney McGruder follows suit. Those are decoy/clear-out cuts more than anything. The real action begins as Ellington cuts. He goes halfway down the lane before putting on the brakes and screening Olynyk’s man (Dedmon). Dedmon struggles to fight through the screen as Olynyk pops out behind the arc. Adebayo recognizes this, hits Olynyk in stride, then watches the Canadian cash home another trifecta.
Let’s watch this entire sequence unfold first.
I know this article is supposed to be about Olynyk, but none of this happens without Bam Adebayo. He shows off his shot blocking instincts, waiting until the offensive player leaves his feet before deciding to leave his. He swats the shot away, but keeps it inbounds (Tony Fiorentino had to be proud) to spark the transition opportunity.
From there, Olynyk turns on the jets — well, his version of the jets considering he moves at, like, five miles per hour — and surveys the court. Adebayo runs the floor hard, and just the threat of him having a mismatch down low causes Dedmon to drop down for half a beat in anticipation of a pass. The problem, of course, is that the pass never comes. Olynyk turns, sets up, and fires.
The action starts with Olynyk setting a screen to free Rodney McGruder on his flex cut, but Magette defends it beautifully. Atlanta clearly isn’t ready for the next chain of events. Richardson, who had been standing flat-footed on the left wing, suddenly springs into action. He fights through his man, then sets a pindown screen for Olynyk.
A confused John Collins takes a terrible angle to track Olynyk, entangling himself in the screen and throwing himself further behind the play. He shakes free, but the contest is late, and three more points are on the board.
Olynyk’s versatility has been on display all year. His screening, passing, awkward drives, and crafty post play have thrown defenses for a loop this year. On Wednesday, the threat of Olynyk’s shooting wasn’t just on display, it was fully utilized. When he’s on and aggressive, there aren’t many ways to defend him.