Game Breakdown #3: Jaquez Cutting, Herro’s PnR Scoring, Poor Offensive Possessions

Insight3 weeks ago6 min readJohn Jablonka

Side note before these breakdowns. I am catching up on them a week later, some of these may be shorter than usual or may not have a particular focus. A lot of this will be picking things out that caught my eye.

This was going to be a struggle right from the start. As soon as it was obvious that Jimmy Butler wasn’t going to play, it was going to be concerning whether they could pull off a win.

A lot of that has to do with their offense when Butler isn’t playing. In 18 games that he missed last year, the Miami Heat had a minus 3.3 net rating with a 109.1 offense in 869 minutes. Surprisingly, the last time they were in Minnesota, they were also without him, and in that game, they scored 101 points on 38.9% from the field, 28.9% from 3, and 66.7% from the line with a 95.2 offensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass.

Not so surprisingly, this game wasn’t any different and you can make a case that it was even worse than last time. I can remember that game vividly because it was so bad last year seeing Kyle Lowry run pick-and-rolls with Bam Adebayo. This game, it was a lot of the same thing. And it was a lot of isolation scoring not working out.

They didn’t even crack 100 points in this game. Scoring 90 points, shooting 40.2% from the field, 31.6% from 3, and 57.1% from the line with 88.3 offensive rating, per CTG.

This was one of those games. But there were still plenty of things to go through and pick out from, so let’s go through these.

Because there’s no Butler, there was going to be a lot of usage for both Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. That kind of means high PnR usage for Herro and a lot of isolations for Adebayo.

At this point, I don’t know how to feel about these shots, especially when they are short-handed and have guys like Dru Smith and Jamal Cain on the floor. There may not be much great offense.

But I still feel some of the decision-making and the process on some of those possessions is off. These isolation possessions can be a last-minute thing when nothing works out. That kind of makes sense when you try everything but still can’t get anything. In these possessions, Adebayo is settling for those shots way too early in the possession. That’s what I don’t like. He can get some of these looks at any point in time and yet decides on shots fading away from the basket when there are still over 10s left. That bugs me.

When it comes to Herro’s PnR usage, it’s his approach to always score, decision-making, and shot selection.

Take the second clip, he does great work snaking his way into the paint. But is it a smart idea to try to force a shot over Rudy Gobert in the paint? Gobert is great. He’s there contesting the shot. That doesn’t have to be a shot.

The shots he takes in clips one and three also bother me when he’s going to have this type of usage. They are highly inefficient shots at that volume and I’d honestly would rather see him outright fail and miss badly attempting to get through the defense to the rim. Instead of always hunting that contested pull-up 2, in these situations, get some reps doing something new. Experiment with what he’s uncomfortable with rather than go back to that comfort zone of pulling up.

And you can see in the last clip, that mentality to always score. He’s actively hunting that stepback 2. In games like these, I don’t want him taking these many shots in that area in that way. This isn’t taking what the defense gives him, it’s looking for those things. There’s nothing stopping him from trying to attack Karl Anthony Towns — he had a drive open to attack. And even he fails or gets stopped, that would be better progress than settling for the stepback to pass it out.

I love Jaime Jaquez cutting. He already has that great feel. There’s a Lowry-Adebayo PnR on one side. He recognizes that Mike Conley is helping off and isn’t paying attention, so he just cuts inside.

In the second clip, they’re pushing the break, and instead of going to the corner, he again recognizes that Anthony Edwards isn’t paying attention, so he carries on cutting. Great reads on those cuts.

Here are some plays that caught my eye.

In the first clip, they’re pushing the pace. Duncan Robinson gets the ball inside on the cut. Continues to handle the ball, flows into a PNR with Nikola Jovic, and he curls to the rim. He wasn’t looking to pass it off or go for a pull-up 3, as he probably would’ve done last year. He’s straight away looking to drive because that’s what the defense is giving him. He curls to the paint, draws Towns to help, and finds Adebayo for the catch-and-shoot 2pt(just stand in the corner at that point, Bam!)

I like this common action in the second clip. It’s Lowry setting a backscreen(and in a way ghost screen, a screen that you don’t set but pop right away) for Smith and coming off a flare screen from Adebayo to get the wide open 3. That is an elite action that usually gets them a clean look. I’d like to see more of those plays being run, especially with these units — give me more Robinson setting ghost screens!

Speaking of Robinson setting ghost screens, that’s exactly what he does in the third clip for Herro, and look what that accomplishes. This is the exact play with Herro as the ball handler. And because of that screen, it causes confusion, and he’s able to get a drive to the rim.

In the fourth clip, it’s something that we’ll be seeing more often. It’s Jaquez Jr involved in post-splits. The Heat love to go to those actions with anyone in the post. It’s interesting to see them using Jaquez Jr already. Here’s Adebayo setting a screen for Robinson to curl to the rim. Great finish and pass from Jaquez. Also, notice those long strides from Robinson to get even closer to the rim! That’s great stuff to see.

To end the piece, in the last clip, here’s some Adebayo playing good defense on Towns and helping on Gobert.