#1 For the most part, every player had a good night
The Heat suffered a mediocre third quarter, and saw another poor shooting night from rookie guard Kendrick Nunn, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury, but was able to overcome these obstacles to deliver an emphatic win in the return of All-Star forward Jimmy Butler.
The Heat was led in scoring by both Butler and the recently-added forward Jae Crowder, who each finished with 21 points. Crowder’s impressiveness stands out, as in two games with the Heat, he now has 39 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, five steals and a block in total. Crowder is also a +26 in these two games, where the Heat only has a margin of victory of plus-six in such games.
In fact, the entirety of the Heat’s bench played a strong game. Forward Kelly Olynyk was moved to the bench and finished with a double-double, four rebounds away from a triple-double, and with his career-high in assists, at 11. Guard Goran Dragic finished with 15 points and six assists, and forward Andre Iguodala, who got a standing ovation by Warriors fans in attendance, finished as a plus-25 and had five rebounds and two assists.
Olynyk is not the only player that flirted with a triple-double, as All-Star forward Bam Adebayo finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while notching two steals.
Another player that stood out in the win is Duncan Robinson, who finished with 17 points on five made 3-pointers. This game marked Robinson’s 12th game of the year with more than five made 3-pointers, tied for sixth place in the NBA.
#2 Some good, some bad
It’s safe to say that the Heat benefited greatly from the return of Butler, who finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block. With the return of his strong defense, the Heat was finally able to close out on the 3-point line, allowing the Warriors to make just 11 downtown shots. However, the Warriors did rank as one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league, so the Heat needs to not get lax in that regard heading forward.
The Heat also finished with 36 assists in the game, the second-highest game total for the team this season. However, a lack of ball movement was not the reason for dropping three straight. The team had 31 assists at the Trail Blazers and 29 at the Los Angeles Clippers. Impressively, the team’s 36 assists come on 43 made baskets by the team tonight.
Somewhat worrisome for the team, was the fact that the Heat was outscored 32-21 in the third quarter, allowing a 24-point lead shrink drastically in the second half. Also worrisome, the fact that the Heat forced 17 turnovers, and only scored nine points off of those turnovers, while the Warriors only forced 12, but scored 20 points off of the Heat’s turnovers.
#3 Reason for hope
Regardless, this was a good win for Miami, who may still be able to salvage this six-game road trip. If the Heat wins the next two away games, it puts the team at 37-18, and in prime position to make a run, with 10 of the 12 games after the trip against teams that are below .500.
In fact, the Heat has a four game stretch after its next game where the teams it faces are a combined 57-156 (.268 win percentage). After this, the Heat has a stretch of six games where it faces the New Orleans Pelicans and the bottom of the Eastern Conference, who combine for a record of 116-203 (.363 win percentage).
Thankfully for the Heat, the two teams in the aforementioned 12 game stretch that are above .500, are both being played in AmericanAirlines Arena, where the Heat has only lost three games all season. Furthermore, the Heat only has four more road games this season against teams with winning records. The Heat has a 13-15 road record, so if it can win against the lesser teams on the road, it still has a chance at the second seed.
The Heat travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz, to end the West Coast trip . The Jazz are in the middle of a roller-coaster run, having gone on a run of 19-2, followed by an 0-5 freefall and now have won two straight. The game between the two teams tips off at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12.