Shortly before tipoff of the Miami Heat’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks, the team announced Jimmy Butler wouldn’t play with flu-like symptoms. And Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo were already out.
Tuesday night’s game got off to a promising start when Trevor Ariza made his first three shot attempts — all from beyond the arc — before Duncan Robinson hit one of his own. Miami was up 12-3, forcing Rick Carlisle to call a time-out.
That high-octane offense continued the rest of the quarter, as Miami took a 39-30 lead at the end of the first period. But the Heat managed to score just 38 points in the second and third quarters combined, and the Mavericks took advantage.
With 6:40 left in the third quarter, Kendrick Nunn made a layup to cut Dallas’ lead to 71-67. Tim Hardaway Jr. proceeded to slice up any semblance of Heat defense, hitting three 3-pointers over the next four minutes. The Mavericks suddenly were up 91-72 with 2:57 left to go, and the Heat never made a run after that. Dallas won 127-113 to snap Miami’s three-game win streak.
Hardaway Jr. went an incredible 10-for-18 from beyond the arc to score 36 points on the night. Dallas made 22 3-pointers and found it easy to score on a Heat defense that scrambled too late to contest open shooters. Luka Doncic motored the Mavs offense early, but everyone chipped in for them the rest of the night. Dorian Finney-Smith went 5-of-6 from the field, and Josh Richardson scored 17 points.
On the Heat side, many will again question Bam Adebayo’s aggression on a night Jimmy Butler did not play. Adebayo had just 10 field goal attempts on the night — and had just eight midway through the fourth quarter, when the outcome of the game was not in doubt. Adebayo had a nice put-back dunk in the first quarter and nearly had a triple-double — 11 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists — but needs to look for his shot more.
Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic both led Miami with 19 points. Robinson also grabbed nine rebounds. In a sign of the Heat’s depletion at the wing, Robinson played until the final buzzer sounded. Yes, he was on the court in garbage time with Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, KZ Okpala and Precious Achiuwa. It’s a risk to have your third-most important player on the court at the end, but Erik Spoelstra’s only other option would have been to play Nunn.
Nunn, by the way, regressed Tuesday after playing well for a few weeks. He shot just 5-of-16 from the field and 2-of-7 from downtown. Without Butler, the Heat needed an efficient scoring night from Nunn. He didn’t deliver.
In an encouraging sign, Vincent made four of his five shots from downtown and helped make the final score a bit more respectable. Vincent was a well-known shooter in the G League, but has struggled from 3 at the NBA level.
The Heat will be off until Friday, when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves.