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The Heat’s young studs are cooking

Miami is pulling out wins as of late thanks to their depth.

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Miami Heat looked rather impressive in a solid win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks, 106-98, on Sunday.

The win snapped a seven-game losing skid away from Miami for the Heat which now finds itself back to one game below .500 at 10-11.

It doesn’t get easier from here with upcoming back to back matches against the Boston Celtics, although kicking off a road trip by defeating a playoff-caliber division foe is a good way to ignite the engine.

Miami once again played without Jimmy Butler who continues to nurse an inflammatory knee but did work out at the Heat’s home arena while his teammates were closing off the Hawks.

If Butler returns in their rematch from last season’s conference finals, he’ll be joining a squad that, especially as of late, has individuals playing at a high level and using the sum of those parts to form a respectable unit.

After registering a career-high 38-points against the Wizards, Bam Adebayo recorded another outburst on Sunday. He did most of his damage in the third period where Miami erased a 9-point halftime lead to take control of the ball game, spearheaded by well-oiled execution on offense and a combination of luck plus springiness with the zone defense.

In what many hoped would be his breakout campaign, Bam is taking the leap that could catapult him into every-year All-Star territory. His defense, which is elite, has never been in question. As of late, he’s showing an improved offensive bag that includes Kobe-like jumpers, Wade-like runners, and Dwight-like athleticism. He can still create for others when called upon.

The best part is more than ever, he looks willing to carry all that responsibility. Perhaps Butler’s injury has forced it out of necessity, but such situations often leads to breakthroughs.

It’s not far-fetched to think Adebayo is becoming the Heat’s best player, all avenues considered. The 3-ball is what’s left from confirming it.

The Hawks game was also progressive for Tyler Herro, who notched his first career-triple double. He went an ugly 0-of-8 from deep, sometimes even forcing his shot, but him displaying that he can be a weapon despite not converting on his jumper is the kind of growth that’s promising for him long-term.

One-dimensional players don’t last long in the NBA. Herro isn’t one of them.

No one on this team does a better job setting up Adebayo more than Herro. Continuously in the game-defining third quarter Miami ran empty corner side pick-and-rolls between its two Kentucky guys, resulting in points in the paint. The Hawks, missing Clint Capela, had no answer.

Kyle Lowry was stupendous, as well. Even when his shot isn’t dropping – 2-of-9 against Atlanta – there’s a sense of calm and security in the offense when he’s running things. He’s still the best decision-maker of the team when holding the basketball, even if that means the occasional kamikaze-like trigger passes.

Max Strus returned from a shoulder issue and dropped 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting. He struggled dearly for stretches in the second half but as often is the case, his shooting when the Heat was trailing kept the game from turning lopsided.

Caleb Martin continues to ball the fu – I mean, hell – out. In many occasions he looked like Jimmy Butler light with his ability to create offense from triple-threat position while also disrupting passing lanes on defense and playmaking in transition.

The shooting numbers will eventually dwindle some but to see him thrive in an expanded role with Butler out – it’s smart to reckon this will happen some more – is encouraging.

When healthy, Dewayne Dedmon is one of the best back-up big men in the NBA. His scoring in the stretch while Bam rested allowed Miami to stay at least a few possessions ahead in the final minutes of the contest, before Atlanta’s body language ultimately looked defeated.

There’s a ton of positive momentum for the team over the last week. The coming return of injured players (which also includes Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo) might alter the rotation a bit, but the Heat are building the groundwork for the kind of team they want to be this season and possibly beyond.

Part of that includes letting the players they’ve developed take a bigger share of the spotlight, both the pros and cons that come with that added responsibility. They’ve been thrown in the fire a ton in the past, now it’s time for them to put thrive in those situations.

For a team that has the kind of aspirations the Heat does, that’s going to be what’s needed – even when Butler returns.