The Miami Heat suffered a 127-113 loss against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. A strong first-quarter performance led by forward Trevor Ariza faded as the second quarter began and caused a nine-point deficit at halftime without star player Jimmy Butler.
Miami came out of halftime with a decent start and cut the lead down, but by the end of the third quarter, the Heat were effectively already out of the game with a 21-point deficit. With no Butler, Victor Oladipo, and Tyler Herro, the Heat lacked the players to continue their strong first quarter.
Here are three takeaways from Miami’s loss against Dallas on Tuesday night.
Miami Heat’s second-quarter woes continue
The Miami Heat scored a game-high 39 points in the first quarter led by Trevor Ariza’s 16 points. However, the nine-point lead they held quickly disappeared once Miami couldn’t keep up with Dallas on offense.
Dallas scored 30-plus points in every quarter except the fourth, when the game was already over. The Heat’s 15-point second quarter was the only period when the team scored under 23, and based on their performance recently, it shouldn’t be a surprise they faded away.
Some familiar faces didn’t have a strong showing on a night where the team needed their services. Kendrick Nunn only totaled 14 points, one rebound, and three assists while shooting 5-of-16 from the field. Nunn has been hot as of late, and his lackluster production hurt the team.
Due to the multitude of injuries that Miami has dealt with, the struggles from Tuesday night’s game aren’t hard to comprehend. Miami had KZ Okpala, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus as players who came off the bench. That’s not enough for a second-quarter push when Jimmy Butler would normally rest.
There shouldn’t be much concern about the Heat’s second-quarter issues for due to their injuries, but it’s something that needs to be addressed eventually. Otherwise, there will be issues come playoff time.
Bam Adebayo’s play without Jimmy Butler continues to be notable
Bam Adebayo put up 11 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists in 30 minutes of action on Tuesday night. But as many Heat fans have mentioned, Adebayo only shot the ball 10 times with Butler out due to flu-like symptoms.
This has been a theme throughout the season for Miami. There have been 15 different occasions when Butler hasn’t played and Adebayo has. In those contests, Adebayo is averaging 20.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists while shooting at a 55.2% clip from the floor.
When Butler does play alongside Adebayo, he averages 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists with a 57.2% field goal percentage. As expected, Adebayo’s scoring output with Butler will naturally be less than without him.
However, Heat fans have been critical of the 23-year-old forward when their biggest star has been forced to sit out. Adebayo has developed at an insane rate and to put him in a position to be the No. 1 option could be rushing his development process.
Will Adebayo be ready to take over the role from Butler eventually? If he continues to progress at the trajectory he’s on, of course. Right now just isn’t the time, and realistically, if Adebayo is the go-to guy come playoff time, the Heat won’t be making it far anyway.
The Miami Heat ride or die with Jimmy Butler
The prognosis on the Miami Heat’s season is straightforward. Jimmy Butler will dictate what this team becomes when playoff time comes around in just under two weeks. It won’t be any other role players or star players. Their fate is firmly on Butler’s shoulders.
Miami has a 6-12 record in 18 games without Butler this season. With their 31-year-old superstar, they have a 29-19 record. If the Heat maintained that across the whole season, they would be sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference right now.
Do the Heat have enough to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and New York Knicks with Butler? Absolutely. The Brooklyn Nets are another story.
Not everything will depend on Butler, but the return of Victor Oladipo will have a huge effect on how this season ends. If Oladipo comes back from his injury and is in All-Star form, the sky can be the limit for Miami with their prized addition from the trade deadline.
However, the Heat need Butler to be healthy and locked in for the playoffs. If they don’t have that, there’s a strong likelihood the team will be resigned to a first- or second-round exit. Butler will need to lead his team if they want another NBA Finals berth, much less a chance at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.