Game Breakdown #2: Herro’s Offensive Breakdown, Heat’s Mid-Range, ISOs & Quick Offense

Insightlast month9 min readJohn Jablonka

The last time the Miami Heat played in the Garden was in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals when they blew out the Boston Celtics. Well, they returned there in their second game of the season and it wasn’t the same result.

This was also a very different team that they saw. There was no more Marcus Smart or Robert Williams. Instead, it was Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday doing damage.

The score was much closer than it felt. But there were many issues on both ends that I wasn’t impressed with. Their offensive struggles continued in the half-court. A lot of their process and shot selection was way off. They were again saved by occasionally pushing the pace and getting better looks there. But relying on pushing the pace(for a team that never does) isn’t a good recipe.

And the issues on defense became apparent, especially against this team. Now, they were without Haywood Highsmith, Caleb Martin, and Josh Richardson. They’re three key players that would be key in this matchup. That’s why I don’t feel as concerned going forward, but this did raise concerns about the players who did play.

It also didn’t help that in this game they essentially played without Jimmy Butler. He didn’t look ready to show up at all on either end. Somehow this was still a winnable game but poor late-game execution cost them that.

A Herro Offense Focus Breakdown

Tyler Herro finished with 28 points on 5-for-8 from 2, 5-for-12 from 3, and 3-for-3 from the line whilst adding six assists. So, thought it would be a good idea to dive deeper into those individual possessions.

The focus is a lot on his pick-and-roll and mid-range game.

That is something that I’ll talk about in general for this team down below, but a big reason why they had a poor offense is because a lot of their shots came in the mid-range — though Porzingis played a huge role in that.

You can see in the first clip with the Heat pushing pace. Kyle Lowry finds Herro. He hits Holiday with the fake and goes right into the open pull-up 2. There’s not much wrong with these shots in general, it’s just I wish to see a more aggressive Herro looking to attack the rim first when there’s clearly space there.

Next, comes off a dribble handoff with Adebayo. The first part isn’t on him. This is bad spacing and a poor choice of players setting up. Why is Butler one pass away here? That allows Jayson Tatum to help off and take away Herro’s drive completely.

That forces Herro to get back and use the re-screen to flow into another PNR. But here’s an issue. That’s forcing a floater over Porzingis stretching his arm out. This is a bigger issue when you also have Butler setting a pin-in screen for Lowry, but Herro doesn’t realize that the pass is even there because he had his mind to score.

The third clip is even more annoying. Comes off a quick PNR with Bryant(on that note, I like that they get into the action very quickly). He uses the screen and is able to turn the corner and have a drive. This is also Tatum in the drop that reacted late. Another help is Payton Pritchard. There’s space to attack the rim. There’s nothing stopping Herro from getting there, but instead, he stops on the dime for another pull-up.

Here are four different PNR possessions.

In the first clip, he receives a handoff from Adebayo and immediately rejects the screen to drive baseline. I like that he developed that habit of keeping his dribble alive when probing around the paint. That became obvious during pre-season too. That’s a good option to have when there are no other options. That way you still can do something else.

But I didn’t like the thought process after. There were previous times in other games where he did this move to force a switch, which is elite stuff. But here, because the Celtics ICED the PNR, Derrick White stayed on him. He continued dribbling the ball and looking to go ISO there. That’s not a smart decision. And once Holiday was coming to help, that opened up a kick to Kevin Love, but he wasn’t even looking in that direction to make a pass.

The second clip is something that has been a weakness for him all last year. And against a team like the Celtics that switch often, this would be an issue. He gets Horford on the switch but immediately passes it off. There’s no downside to switching his PNRs because he won’t punish it.

The third clip is something that has been a trend so far this season where he’s gunning for shots and where his immediate decision is to score. A lot of the time, that misses out on a read for a pass. But it also hurts his chances to score because he’s looking to score too soon but could’ve got a better look.

And in the fourth clip, it’s related to that issue. A lot of the time, he makes that pocket pass too soon, before trying to do something himself to create a better advantage.

There were two possessions of blitzes too, which I don’t think he handled very well.

But there were four very positive plays too.

These two were the best I’ve seen so far this season from him. This is a straight-line drive against Holidays. It’s these decisions to reject the screen that are good choices and he manages to get right to the rim. That’s elite and exactly what he needs to do more of. This is aggressively attacking and pushing a defender off to absorb contact.

And finally, these are the possessions I love. It’s him off the ball making decisions. Here it’s him coming off a stagger or a pindown into a 3pt. Those are his shots and he’s an elite shooter at those shots.

The only issue is with Spoelstra not running enough of these plays.

Offensive Issues

When I saw that they shot 16-for-33(48%), I thought everything went well on offense. That couldn’t have been any more wrong.

I don’t know how it’s possible to shoot almost 50% from deep, have low turnovers, and also plenty of offensive rebounds to have a 112.1 offense.

That doesn’t make sense until you see their shot chart:

Yes. Look at those reds. Just about everything was wrong with their scoring inside. They didn’t get to the rim at all and even when they did, they couldn’t finish. And one thing about that 15 number, a lot of them were tip-in shots and in transition — their rim pressure was non-existent. A lot of that had to do with the Celtics’ frontcourt deterring all of the shots.

But a lot also had to do with questionable shot selection from everyone and not even looking to get to the rim. That’s why you’re going to have the same amount of long 2s as at the rim.

That was mostly because of plays like these:

These shots will never translate to good, efficient offense at that volume. This shot profile is perfect if you want a bad offense. The Phoenix Suns shoot over 50% on a lot of these shots and that type of profile isn’t even sustainable for them! It’s certainly not ideal for a team like Miami.

But even outside of the shot location, the way they get shots too isn’t ideal either. They are running way too much isolation, pound the ball, and do nothing else than that. This was awfully similar to the Detroit game.

I am tired of so many of those possessions. Having one handle the ball and making the entire team very stagnant is a win for the defense in itself, even if the player would be making those tough shots. But then when you combine that they’re also taking worse shots than they should, it’s even worse.

And that’s a thing with the Heat and Erik Spoelstra. Isolation offense isn’t necessarily a terrible thing if done right. There are teams that make it work and have an efficient offense(though that playstyle is still not my favorite). But those teams either have a talented player who is capable of punishing any type of coverage or their off-ball movements and secondary actions are elite.

The Heat on the other hand aren’t good at that. They standstill and you get a lot of these empty possessions.

And the only reason they were able to stay in the game and have a better offense is because of plays like these:

Getting out early off a miss or a steal is what kept them in the game. This is also where they managed to get high-quality shots.