The Launching Pad: Quarterback Lowry, Jovic’s Showcasing Versatility
Hi, and welcome back to our Miami Heat weekly round-up: The Launching Pad! Each week, I’ll be going over key observations and trends, breaking down some film, and giving my overall thoughts on the week. You can find all of it here, every Monday.
The Stats & Weekly Thoughts
Oh, what a week. This week almost couldn’t have gone any worse. Though, the Heat were without pretty much the entire team for half of the games this week.
After a nail-biting win against the Phoenix Suns where Jimmy Butler had one of the best defensive plays to close out the game, everything went downhill from then.
Despite not having Bam Adebayo against the Toronto Raptors, that was a winnable game until the Heat were shooting themselves in the foot anytime it looked like they could have closed the game. From 23 turnovers or Butler attempting single-digit shots to stagnant offense and late defensive breakdowns.
The past two games were also losses, but they were not your usual ones. They had a seven-man rotation in the first game against the Washington Wizards, which included playing Kyle Lowry over 50 minutes, and three other players over 40.
But there still was some encouraging stuff to pick out from.
Looking at some stats(11/14/22-21/11/22):
- Record: 1-3(W vs PHX, L vs TOR, L vs WAS, L vs CLE)
- Net Rating: -8.7 (per Cleaning the Glass)
- Offensive Rating: 108.0
- Defensive Rating: 116.7
- Opponent Offensive Rebound: 36.7%
Lowry doing his thing
After a very poor start to the season, Lowry has been playing much better. In the four games this week, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists(16.8 potential assists, which would rank fifth in that span) on 52.1% true shooting and shooting 36.7% on 7.5 3s.
He started off the week with one of the best games this season. Although the typical box score may not do him wonders, especially his shooting splits, he was key in the win against the Suns.
He had 13 drives, shot 2-for-5, and had five passes out of those drives. He looked significantly more aggressive in his ability to get the rim and was looking to score. Even on the possessions where he didn’t do anything, he forced rotations, which lead to open shots.
That’s the kind of rim pressure that was needed from him. Throughout the season, he’s had these games on and off. So, it’s clear that with his age, these types of games are going to be inconsistent.
But he started to do his thing in the game against the Wizards. There’s something about Lowry playing differently when he’s surrounded by a bunch of undrafted guys.
Here are some of his stats from that game:
- 22 drives
- 13 passes off those drives (59% pass)
- 34 potential assists
- 100 passes made
- 42 points of assists created
- 129 touches
- 12.4 time off possession
- 5.79 average second per touch
In simple words, he had the ball in his hands a lot.
When the team is missing so many players, the offense tends to go to something like this:
This was a trend last year, too. They use Lowry in a lot of post-split actions and have him as a playmaking hub around the mid/high post with a lot of screening and cutting actions going on.
Another way he was also used a lot is in pick-and-rolls:
The reason for that is he’s one of the best players I’ve seen at making that pocket pass read. He knows when to exactly make it, where to place the pass, can make it through the tightest windows, and his reaction is instant.
Jovic’s Showing Off Offensive Versatility
If there’s anything good that came out of players missing time is getting Nikola Jovic some playing time. If you want a more in-depth breakdown of his game in general, then stop! And go check out Juan-Carlos’ latest piece here.
Jovic has impressed me a lot. There is a clear promise on the offensive end, so let’s go through some of the different ways he’s been used so far.
This started off against the Raptors where he was involved in a lot of PnRs from the start — also remember, he wasn’t playing this type of role before the NBA as a roller, and in his first game with significant playing time, he didn’t disappoint.
He knew when to set a screen, how long to hold, and when to slip, he dived to the rim well and knew when to pop. He was doing it all when it comes to PnRs.
This carried on against the Wizards:
He again showed he knows how long to hold the screen for and when to roll and finish at the rim off.
But in this game, there seemed to be even more versatility. At the 9-second mark, he looks to roll, sees that Kristaps Porzingis is sinking down in the paint, and quickly decides to pop for an above-the-break 3.
At the 22-second mark, he rolls, gets the ball, and makes the read to kick out to the corner once he noticed Corey Kispert helping off.
At the 29-second mark, it was another pick-and-pop, but this time he doesn’t settle for the shot. Instead, he waits to see what Porzingis does, then attacks.
This doesn’t stop here. In the game against the Cavaliers, most of his PnRs ended in kicks or dump-offs:
It’s impressive that he’s already able to see these windows and make those reads instantly. In all of these clips, it was a snap decision and on point.
Finally, there were two key plays that show the potential with him as the four:
These 2 plays were perfect. Both clips involve Jovic, Adebayo, and Max Strus. It’s out of a Delay series (with a big man at the top of the key) where Adebayo has the ball and waits to see where the action comes from.
In the first play, Jovic sets a pindown for Strus. The defense, however, top-locks Strus, which makes him cut across. That cut forces Evan Mobley to help and that momentarily leaves two with Strus before Cedi Osman can recover. As that happens, Jovic is then wide open on the pop.
The second clip is a similar play but with some misdirection at first. It looks as if that’s a pindown for Jovic from Strus. Jovic immediately curls to set the pindown, and that forces the defense to fight over the screen — they can’t top lock or go under.
With the defense now trailing, Strus flows into a dribble-hand-off with Bam. That action forces Jarrett Allen to take away the pull-up, which momentarily leaves two on the ball. Adebayo’s roll forces Mobley to tag. And because this was a perfect play design, it leaves Jovic wide open again.
This is going to be key in the future if he’s going to get more playing time with the starters, which I believe will be happening soon. It’s impressive to see him do all these right things on offense and show he can do so many different things well.