The Miami Heat are 61 games into their season, which equates to almost 75% of the regular season schedule. So that means it’s time to take another look at their progress so far. The Heat have bolstered their position in the conference and league since the middle of the season and firmly established themselves as contenders.
This is our third-quarter progress report where we look at where things are and think about where they are headed. Let’s take a look...
1st in the Eastern Conference (1st in Southeast)
PPG: 109.4 (16th in NBA)
RPG: 44.6 (18th in NBA)
APG: 25.7 (6th in NBA)
3PT%: 37.3% (3rd in NBA)
OPP PPG: 104.8 (5th in NBA)
Differential: +4.6 (6th in NBA)
Points: Jimmy Butler (21.9 PPG)
Rebounds: Bam Adebayo (10.3 RPG)
Assists: Kyle Lowry (7.9 APG)
Steals: Jimmy Butler (1.8 SPG)
Blocks: Bam Adebayo (0.9 BPG)
Significant Injuries and Absences:
Victor Oladipo: has yet to play this season
Markieff Morris: only played 10 games before Nikola Jokic caused a neck/spine injury
Jimmy Butler: missed 21 games (tailbone/ankle)
Bam Adebayo: missed 25 games (thumb surgery)
Tyler Herro is going to win 6th MOTY and it won’t be close
He’s averaging 20.3 PPG this season and has come off the bench in 38 of his 48 games played. Not only that, he’s clearly one of the Heat’s closers and continues to prove that Miami does need him to be successful.
Herro should run away with this award despite some people showing attention to Kevin Love, Kelly Oubre, or anyone else. He’s the most impactful player coming off the bench in the league. We like to say, “He’s ignitable!” Herro has been a true joy to watch this season, and we can’t wait to see how he finished out his third year.
Any Given Night
The Miami Heat can have anyone lead them in scoring on any given night. Well maybe not anyone. As Dan LeBatard once put it: “We are having run the point night. Each night one lucky fans gets to run the point and the fan gets to keep the jersey!”
It’s not like that...but you have Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, and even Max Strus. All of those players have had multiple games leading the team in scoring — so has Caleb Martin and Omer Yurtseven.
The Heat are built to be carried by the player who is playing well. Nobody gets forced the ball...maybe Duncan Robinson but that’s for different reasons. On any given night, Herro can drop 30, or Jimmy is having a big night. You don’t know who’s giving you the business and that’s what makes them lethal.
Caleb Martin is the backup Power Forward
That’s not how Erik Spoelstra or Pat Riley envisioned things going when they signed Martin to a two-way contract. But the absence of Markieff Morries for now over 50 consecutive games has created a void that Martin has filled because the Heat have no one else. And unless they get lucky in the buyout market and power forward becomes available, it seems like Martin has the job.
He’s a versatile defender, and it works because he can guard the perimeter, and switch when Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry are in the game because neither of those two concedes position to bigger players. Martin stretches the floor enough to make it work. Martin is often used to defend the quickest player on the floor and to provide some full-court pressure.
If Morries is able to return, Miami will have to choose between the versatile defense or the traditional power lineup Morris can offer.
Miami is about to begin a stretch of 11 out 12 games at home starting this weekend. And on top of that, Victor Oladipo is nearing a return to the lineup (sometime in the beginning weeks of March). That addition has the potential to be a game-changer for Miami. Luckily they don’t need him to be All-Star Oladipo, but if he is...then things could get interesting.
The Heat have 21 games to get things ironed out before starting what should be a great postseason.
Grading the first half of the season: A
The Heat went 15-6 in their last 21 games and moved from third in the East to first. They are doing what needs to be done while playing a road-heavy schedule. All things considered, I don’t know what more you expect out of them. They’ve played well and have proven themselves in the regular season.
What has stood out to you about the third quarter of the season?
What grade do you give the Heat?