The Miami Heat are 40 games into their season, which equates to almost 50% of the regular season schedule. So that means it’s time to take a look at their progress so far. In what has been an usual start to the regular season, the Heat have gotten off to a better start than most could have expected considering the circumstances.
This is our first-quarter progress report where we look at where things are and think about where they are headed. Let’s take a look...
3rd in the Eastern Conference (1st in Southeast)
PPG: 108.4 (15th in NBA)
RPG: 44.8 (17th in NBA)
APG: 25.5 (7th in NBA)
3PT%: 37.6% (3rd in NBA)
OPP PPG: 104.2 (4th in NBA)
Differential: +4.2 (5th in NBA)
Points: Jimmy Butler (23.2 PPG)
Rebounds: Bam Adebayo (10.2 RPG)
Assists: Kyle Lowry (8.4 APG)
Steals: Jimmy Butler (2.0 SPG)
Blocks: Caleb Martin (0.6 BPG)
Significant Injuries and Absences:
Victor Oladipo: has yet to play this season
Markieff Morris: missed 31 consecutive games since Nikola Jokic caused a neck/spine injury
Jimmy Butler: missed 17 games (tailbone/ankle)
Bam Adebayo: missed 22 games (thumb surgery)
COVID: Heat players have missed 187 days of work due to H/S Protocols.
#YURTSZN in full affect
Bam Adebayo went down on November 29 with a thumb injury and shortle after that, Dewyane Dedmon injured his knee — and Omer Yurtseven was thrust into the starting lineup as a rookie. In his past 11 games, he has recorded 12+ rebounds in each game, and has 5 double-doubles. For a 23 year-old rookie, he’s doing just alright.
It hasn’t been perfect. Omer has a lot to improve on defensively. Teams are attacking him and when he plays drop coverage, he gets in trouble. But all things considered, Omer has given the Heat what they need, has rebounded great, and has provided enough length to make the Heat’s lack of size up front pretty much a non issue most nights. Although it doesn’t seem likely that Yurt will be in the rotation when both Bam and Dedmon are healthy, he has shown that he is a good investment and that Miami can trust him if they need him.
PJ Tucker is quietly doing everything the Heat need
He’s shooting 47% from three.
Read that sentence again. He’s providing the Heat exactly what they need as a stretch 4 who can guard multiple positions. The Heat used their MLE this year on Tucker and it was well worth it. He won’t have a box score that wows you, but if you watch the game, and know basketball at all, you will see all the things he does to help the Heat be successful. Ultimately, TJ’s value will show in the postseason, but for now, he’s been great.
Time to shine
Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin have all taken advantage of the injuries as an opportunity to shine. Vincent had a monster closeout performance against the Bulls, and then he roasted the Sixers in Philly. Max Strus had a stretch where he averaged 23 PPG over 6-games including a 32 point performance. And Caleb Martin has forced his way as an essential part or the rotation with his defense and athleticism and also had a 28 point performance in a win over the Bucks.
All of these guys weren’t expected to be in the top-9 when everyone is healthy...but now you are asking the question: can the Heat afford not to play them? That’s a good problem and when/if the Heat ever get fully healthy we will see what happens. But for now, they are performing and it has been fun to watch.
Another Diamond in the Rough?
The Heat were forced to sign 4 players to 10-day contracts just to have enough players to play a few games. Out of that experiment, the Heat found themselves Kyle Guy — and he started his 10 days with a 17 point performance against Houston. Guy played well in his time with Miami, not just scoring nice a few games, but also assisting and showing no fear driving to the rim. He seemed to be someone the Heat would want to invest in and get in their system.
They just signed Guy to another 10-day contract, although it’s uncertain how many games he will actually be active for considering the Heat only have 1 player in protocols. The thought is that the Heat could potentially signed Caleb Martin to a standard contract and sign Guy to a two-way deal to allow them to evaluate him the rest of the season and get “cultured” before deciding what they can do with him next year.
The Heat are 10 games over .500 and haven’t had Lowry, Butler and Adebayo play together in a long time. They are in a good place. This next stretch of their season has more home games and the Heat should be getting more healthy and whole. They have a real chance to move themselves towards competing for the top spot in the East if they put everything together. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Max Strus are providing the type of shooting the Heat need to compliment the rest of the roster. And Kyle Lowry continues to help put everyone in the right spot. If the Heat get healthy, they are more dangerous than what teams have seen so far.
Grading the first half of the season: B+
All things considered, the Heat have done amazing dealing with injuries and a heavy road schedule (they’ve played 16 and home and 24 on the road). No one has played fewer home games than the Heat this season so far. And yet, they are in a great position.
And...Victor Oladipo will be returning sometime soon.
What has stood out to you about the first half of the season?
What grade do you give the Heat?