After an impressive win over the NBA-leading Utah Jazz last night, the Miami Heat have now strung together five consecutive victories and taken hold of the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. (Of course, the fourth through 10th seeds are separated by just one game.)
The Heat’s last two wins over the Toronto Raptors and Jazz represent two of their best performances all season. When Miami won four straight games earlier this month, it didn’t feel completely great — they barely defeated the New York Knicks twice. Even earlier on this streak, Miami spent long stretches of wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder mired in offensive droughts.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are playing at All-Star levels. Goran Dragic was superb last night, making clutch shots and taking a huge charge with less than two minutes to go. Kendrick Nunn is back to playing like a competent NBA player after an abysmal Bubble run and start to this season.
Big drawn charge by Goran. pic.twitter.com/eXhsH1FiDq— Joseph Beguiristain (@JoeBeguiristain) February 27, 2021
And still — a trade would help.
The Heat’s most glaring issue remains that void next to Adebayo in the front-court. Kelly Olynyk has had a strange season and a bad game last night. He’s shooting a career-low 32 percent from 3. Last night, he missed a wild 26-foot 3-pointer on a fast-break when Miami had a seven-point lead with 5:09 left. He also committed three fouls in the final six minutes of the game, fouling out.
And yet, the Heat are simply a better team when Olynyk plays. He’s made a number of nice cuts to the basket, scoring even when his shot isn’t falling. When he and Butler play together, Miami is a plus-14 — the same as the LeBron James/Anthony Davis combo this season.
LeBron + AD: 14 NetRtg / 517 mins— Giancarlo Navas (@gnavas103) February 25, 2021
Jimmy + KO: 14 NetRtg / 415 mins
LMFAOOOOO Jimmy is a God
Olynyk’s shooting should come around. Last season, his 3-point shooting skyrocketed after the All-Star break. But even at his best, Olynyk remains a liability on defense. Having a switchable big would help the Heat, especially in crunch time.
Last night, Erik Spoelstra went to KZ Okpala off the bench instead of Precious Achiuwa. But Okpala didn’t offer much in his eight minutes. At one point in the first quarter, Okpala grabbed an offensive rebound — and promptly turned the ball over.
Okpala's rebound and subsequent turnover is the reason he rarely sees minutes. He'd really benefit from the Skyforce if they had a team this year. He still has a lot of potential.— Brandon Di Perno (@Brandon_DiPerno) February 27, 2021
The Heat should make a trade this year for the same reason they made the deadline deal for Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill last year. Justise Winslow was hurt, and James Johnson and Dion Waiters were out of the rotation. This year, Meyers Leonard is hurt, and Moe Harkless is out of the rotation. Getting some plug-and-play options while getting rid of some dead weight would be a win for the Heat — even though Winslow is playing good defense in his return with Memphis after more than a yearlong absence due to injury.
Justise Winslow just gave Kawhi a taste of his own medicine. What a strip, then a transition three for Memphis pic.twitter.com/9RigvraiDT— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 26, 2021
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported Feb. 24 that Miami has discussed DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Nemanja Bjelica, P.J. Tucker and Blake Griffin, but only if he’s waived.