The Nets were clearly the hot team to start the game with Nic Claxton and Kyrie Irving both doing work to get out to a nine-point lead. The Nets’ defense was stifling, double-teaming Bam early and holding the Heat to 2/7 shooting. This forced Miami to go to Haywood Highsmith who’s 7 points helped the Heat back within striking distance.
With Oladipo playing like his Indiana self and Jimmy scoring well the Heat took a small lead that would start a back-and-forth battle that lasted pretty much the entire game. The Nets got great scoring from Irving with Miami countering back with Max Strus and Bam. The Heat played from behind for much of the second quarter but by never more than a few points. Off some quality scoring from Bam, Jimmy, Tyler, and Orlando Robinson Miami got over the hump to take a 4-point lead but would run into a Kyrie Irving-sized wall to end the half trailing by two (still it was probably Miami’s most complete half this season).
Despite not scoring for the first two minutes of the third and Durant having his way with the defense, it was Jimmy Butler who’d carry things offensively (he had 10+ in the quarter) for Miami to stay within striking distance. Miami’s defense excelled in this quarter, getting multiple stops on the efficient Brooklyn offense. The final minutes of the third largely turned into KD vs Jimmy, but a big Tyler three and Robinson bunny to end the quarter on a 12-0 run put the Heat up three heading into the fourth.
The defense was on full display to start the fourth with Oladipo coming up with a huge steal, that led to an instant Herro offense. Oladipo also continued his pestering play forcing three successive Brooklyn turnovers. Herro also exploded for instant offense with Jimmy on the bench scoring nine points in the first few minutes. Durant would not return to the game after hurting his knee, but even in his absence Brooklyn still put together a big scoring run. The Heat would hunker down and get key contributions from Highsmith, Herro, Jimmy and Bam to stay ahead. Brooklyn pushed back on a surge by Seth Curry, and even with Miami’s clutch offense and defensive renaissance, it was ultimately a Roye O’neale second-chance bucket that would sink the Heat off a missed three from Kyrie Irving. Jimmy had a chance but did not get a foul call on a great take with a lot of contact. Tyler Herro also got injured in the final seconds after slipping. Just a horrible way for the game to end.
- Heat throwback jerseys: Hear me out. The white and black versions of these become Miami’s main jerseys, and they bring back the Vice jerseys as the alternates. They’re just so beautiful.
Jimmy Butler: The worst part of Jimbo sitting back-to-backs is that we have less time to see him dominate games like he did tonight. He was a clear star with 26 pts and 9 rebounds, and probably should have sealed things with game-winning free throws too.
Bam’s Poster: RIP Joe Harris. We hardly knew you.
Free throw shooting: The Heat shot 71% from the free throw line. For a team who has spent the entire season in clutch games, these points would come in handy,
Kyle Lowry’s lack of scoring: I’ve been one of the biggest Kyle Lowry defenders this season, but his last four games have been either abysmal or significantly average. Lowry was great as the conductor of the offense last season, but this year he rarely has the ball. He’s still a presence and playmaker (he even had some winning plays tonight!), but unless his threes are falling (they aren’t) he just doesn’t seem to have a clear role right now. 2/10 from the field just isn’t going to cut it.
Clutch games: I’m pretty sure this was Miami’s 29th “Clutch Game” of the season. While this one was justified, the Heat can’t have every game go down to the wire - it’s a dangerous game of roulette.
Injuries: Bam exited with 5 minutes to go in the fourth. With the game, close this is not a situation Bam would exit willingly. The thing bruise will be something to keep an eye on going forward. On the final play Herro also got injured after slipping, he looked to be in a lot of pain so hopefully it’s nothing too bad.