Well, maybe the Heat left those problems back in March.
The Heat dominated the second half against the Denver Nuggets to register a 125-105 victory in both teams’ first matchup in the season restart. The Heat moved just one-and-a-half games behind the Boston Celtics for the third seed in the East.
To be fair, Denver played without three starters — Gary Harris, Will Barton and Jamal Murray. But the Heat played a great game of basketball, dishing out 29 assists as a team and making the Nuggets work for everything on the defensive end of the floor.
Jimmy Butler was the motor for the Heat, going for 22 points thanks to 10-for-11 shooting from the foul line. He also defended bigger players with force and dished out seven assists, all in his 29 minutes of action. To end the quarter, Butler muscled his way to the basket for a buzzer-beating layup.
Butler’s fellow All-Star, Bam Adebayo, also catalyzed the Heat offense. Adebayo and Butler each finished with 22 points, and they combined to take 21 free throws. Adebayo made some mid-range jumpers with confidence, a nice sign from him, and made some great passes to open up the floor for the Heat shooters like Duncan Robinson and Jae Crowder. The big man had six assists and nine rebounds aside from his 22 points.
After struggling to shoot the 3 in the first half, the Heat caught fire in the third quarter. Crowder made the Nuggets pay for leaving him open, going 3-for-4 from downtown. Crowder, by the way, got the starting spot Saturday afternoon, and Meyers Leonard didn’t play. Duncan Robinson also connected on three 3-pointers, but also made some nice plays off the dribble to finish with 17 points.
Duncan Robinson has been watching...Joe Ingles (?) tape apparently. pic.twitter.com/6B0ri4oQqG— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) August 1, 2020
And in the fourth quarter, Kelly Olynyk put on a clinic. After some nice pick-and-roll action gave him some easy layups early in the period, Olynyk made four 3-pointers that put the game away. The backup big finished with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting — and all of his points came in that final frame.
Goran Dragic contributed 13 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the foul line for the Heat. Kendrick Nunn added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Tyler Herro scored seven points, including making some nice moves to the basket. But on the flip side, Herro shot just 1-for-4 from downtown.
Aside from Erik Spoelstra moving Meyers Leonard out of the starting lineup, he only played Derrick Jones Jr. in the first half after Andre Iguodala had picked up three fouls in three minutes. The Heat haven’t played with a fully healthy roster until now — remember, Herro and Leonard were injured when Miami made the trade for Iguodala and Crowder. Seeing what rotation Spoelstra settles on will be intriguing to watch.
The Heat play their next game Monday at 1:30 against the Toronto Raptors.