The Miami Heat took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Celtics on Wednesday and were led by the youngest player on the floor as 20-year-old Tyler Herro put on a masterful display of shot making. He scored with ease at all three levels, racking up 37 points (14-of-21 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with five triples, six rebounds, three dimes and one turnover in 36 minutes. He closed out the game in style with 17 points alone in the fourth quarter, breaking some records in the process — he broke Dwayne Wade’s rookie playoff record (27 points) and also became the second 20-year-old to score at least 37 in the playoffs alongside Magic Johnson’s record of 42.
I don’t think Pat Riley gets enough credit for refusing to tank after LeBron James left as he’s managed to build another powerhouse team that has only lost twice so far in the playoffs — he drafted Herro and Bam Adebayo 13th and 14th overall, found two hidden gems in Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, and to top it all off he convinced Jimmy Butler to leave Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in order to be the leader of this revamped roster.
Speaking of Butler, he was having a pretty quiet series on the offensive end before this one, but popped off for 24 points on 8-of-20 shots, adding nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He deferred to Herro down the stretch though which he should get a lot of credit for, and he has spear-headed Miami’s zone defense and has been the ultimate disruptor on that end with seven total steals and three blocks this series. He’s on the verge of making it to his first NBA Finals so all those 3 AM training sessions and noise complaints for dribbling in his hotel room are going to pay off.
Goran Dragic reminded us why he’s going to be one of the hottest free agents this summer, dropping 22 points on 8-of-21 shots with five boards, three dimes, two steals and three triples. That improves his playoff average to 21.3 points, 4.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.6 triples. He legitimately might get a one-year deal worth roughly $20M, but no longer than that with the Heat preserving cap space to make a run at Giannis in 2021-22.
Bam Adebayo was instrumental for the Heat once again with a 20/12/4 line with two steals, his 6th game of the playoffs with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. How he didn’t make any of the All-NBA teams remains absurd to me. The Heat will have some concern going forward though, as Bam Adebayo tweaked his wrist in the fourth quarter and it was clearly bothering him — he was grimacing a lot and was just letting it hang by his side.
Bam said after the game that he just twisted it and that he’ll be fine, sporting a huge icepack on his wrist. Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t have an update and the Heat weren’t exactly transparent either, so we’re pretty much in the dark here. Hopefully everything is OK but I wouldn’t be surprised if he undergoes an MRI Thursday to be safe.
UPDATE: Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press is reporting that Bam’s injury is an aggravation of something he picked up in Game 3 and that he is good to go for Game 5.
As for Boston, let’s first give a shoutout to Gordon Hayward who became a father to his fourth child on Wednesday. He was originally expected to depart the bubble for the birth, but because he took so much time off for his ankle injury he opted to stay and help Boston. “I think his ankle’s fine right now,” coach Brad Stevens said after the birth was announced. “I don’t think he’s thought about it all afternoon obviously. Very, very happy to hear the news.”
He had another strong performance in his second game back, scoring 14 points in 30 minutes with seven rebounds, three assists and two triples. He’s played 30 minutes in back-to-back games, and with Boston’s season on the line I’m expecting that number to go up as Boston’s best bet is to play smaller lineups unless Brad Stevens starts suddenly trusting Robert Williams. The reason for that is because Daniel Theis was absolutely torched all evening, finishing with a +/- of -14 in 30 minutes.
Kemba Walker continues to be targeted on defense, but at least he’s finally making up for it on the other end. He scored 20 points for his third straight game with at least that many, adding five assists, four rebounds and three triples. Jaylen Brown added 21 points, nine boards and four triples for Boston, while Marcus Smart had an off shooting night (3-of-12 FGs) but still managed to post a 10-point, 11-dime double-double.
Jayson Tatum had his first scoreless half of the season, but erupted late to finish with 28 points (10-of-22 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks in 39 minutes. “I take a lot of blame,” Tatum said. “I didn’t play like myself in the first half.” He also called his performance “unacceptable,” and something is telling me he won’t go down without a fight in Game 5.
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News and Notes from around the NBA
– Sacramento’s new GM, Monte McNair, spoke to the media for the first time on Wednesday since being hired. He said he’s “excited” to work alongside coach Luke Walton who was previously on the hot seat, but this will certainly be an interesting dynamic to watch. McNair said that floor spacing and pushing the pace will be two things that he’ll preach as GM, and hopefully Walton delivers in that regard because he refused to do that this season despite saying otherwise. McNair comes from Houston’s front office, so that alone is reason for optimism (at least from a fantasy basketball perspective).
Pushing the pace will be huge for Sacramento’s franchise PG in De’Aaron Fox, a player that I’ve got my eyes on next season as a post-hype breakout. He still managed to average a career-high 21.1 points in his age-22 season despite so many things working against him, so if we get some positive regression with his 3-point shooting, free throws, and defensive stats then I think we’re talking about a top-40 finish in 8-cat leagues.
One other thing that stood out from the press conference is how much he talked about Buddy Hield, saying that he’s “absolutely” one of the elite shooters in the league and that he can’t wait to utilize that in his system. McNair also talked about being smart with the team’s finances, and with so much money tied up in Hield I got the sense that he was leaning towards letting Bogdan Bogdanovic walk this summer. Maybe I’m wrong, but if Bogdan bounces then Hield will have a clear runway to a top-50 bounce-back season.
– Mitchell Robinson will not attend New York’s voluntary workouts under new head coach Tom Thibodeau for personal reasons, but all we know right now is that it’s not COVID-19 related. Robinson didn’t live up to the hype this season but it had more to do with the former coaching staff, so you better believe I’ll be buying his discounted ADP this time around with a coach who is notorious for playing his studs 36+ minutes.