The Miami Heat were the favorite in the 7/8 play-in matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, as some media and fans were expecting a grueling series against the Boston Celtics. The Heat put up a dud against the Hawks, but they beat the Chicago Bulls and then shocked the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1. With Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Game 2, Miami had a big opportunity.
Instead, Losing Game 2 by a large margin only continued to emphasize the Heat’s inconsistencies this year and how their fans have been experiencing one of their most difficult seasons in recent memory. The roller-coaster ride of emotions and expectations have been unpredictable, as these last two games encapsulate Miami’s 2022-23 campaign. The series is not close to being over because the Heat still have a home-court advantage and Giannis Antetokounmpo is still suffering from a back injury, but Game 2 showed how difficult it will be to pull off the upset, even if Giannis isn’t healthy.
Under the tutelage of head coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat have been terrific with in-series adjustments, so let’s see what Miami has up its sleeve for the next two contests at the Kaseya Center.
Better 3-point defense
With the impeccable Game 2 performance of the Bucks, even without Antetokounmpo, they now share the most 3-pointers made in a playoff game in NBA history. NBA pundits knew the Bucks’ 11 long-distance conversions in Game 1 would increase, but a whopping 25 made 3pointers was the major reason for their Game 2 victory.
The Heat were in the game for one quarter only, and they looked lackluster in closing out to the exceptional shooters of the Bucks. There will be games in which they will not be able to contain the number of made baskets from rainbow country, but the efficiency in Game 2 was over 50%. For the next games, they must make it more difficult for Milwaukee to convert those triples by closing out hard and forcing guys like Joe Ingles and Pat Connaughton to slash it to the rim rather than swishing from the perimeter.
Jimmy Butler immediately diagnosed this problem after the game, and Miami must do a better job of contesting shooters and being more physical defensively.
Cut down turnovers
A team that will likely miss Tyler Herro for the rest of the playoffs must maximize each possession through their half-court offense and decrease the transition opportunities of the Bucks. The fast-break numbers for Milwaukee will dwindle if the Heat’s miscues plummet to a respectable number, around a maximum of 12 or 13 per game.
By forcing the Bucks to set up their half-court offense, it is more difficult to set up their shooters for open triples. For the Heat, their offense has been horrific this season, so cutting down on the turnovers increases their field goal attempts as well, which creates chances for more made baskets.
Outscore Milwaukee’s role players
Every game in this series will have some explosions from the Bucks’ role players, but these cannot happen in the same game. Milwaukee’s stars will get their numbers every game, but the contributions of the ancillary pieces are a big adjustment Miami must be wary of moving forward. The Heat can’t afford to get roasted by the likes of Connaughton, Ingles and Grayson Allen like they did in Game 2.
Since the next two games will be in Florida, it is paramount for Max Strus or Gabe Vincent to have an impressive outing to complement Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Fifty-five points from the Connaughton-Allen-Ingles trio is too much for the Heat if they want to remain competitive in this series.
The post 3 adjustments Heat must make after getting annihilated by Bucks in Game 2 appeared first on ClutchPoints.