Miami Heat clutch offense needs to be more dynamic

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) defends against Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22)(John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) defends against Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22)(John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Miami Heat’s win over Boston was a statement. Actually, all games against the Celtics are statement games.

And despite this one being a regular season game before Christmas, it definitely felt like a playoff game. But this statement wasn’t simply made in the win over Boston but rather, how they went about doing it in the clutch.

“Clutch,” as defined by the NBA, is a game within five points with five minutes or less on the clock. From about the middle of the fourth quarter all the way through overtime, the biggest lead of this game was four.

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In this young season, Miami has already had 16 clutch games and are at an even win-loss split of eight each. Defensively and as expected, they’ve performed well with a defensive rating of 97.3, tied with New Orleans for fifth-best overall.

Where the concern is, however, is the offense. The Heat are middle of the pack on that side of the ball with 106.8 points per 100 possessions.

The offense has run into problems, in general, this year. They are near the bottom of the league in effective field goal percentage and points per possession but both stats decline in clutch situations.

So, where are the wins coming from? Two simple words are the answer.

As the Miami Heat look to climb the standings, they’ll play quite a few close games. With that, they’ll need to be able to rely on their clutch offense.

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Jimmy Butler.

In the aforementioned Celtics matchup, the right Buckets at the right time were supplied by Jimmy.  At the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime, he hit four high-stakes shots.

All of them, except one, were created by Jimmy, himself, off of stepbacks, fading, or pulling up. It was truly remarkable to watch, but it’s also what puts Jimmy in the higher tier of players in the NBA.

His genuine bucket-getting ability should never be taken for granted but it does indirectly highlight the Heat’s late-game offensive issues. Wins live or die based on Jimmy’s shots and while he’s spectacular most of the time, it does raise the following question.

What do you do when Jimmy is injured or if his shot isn’t falling that night?

The frightening thing is that there isn’t a sure answer to that question, especially against other teams that have bucket-getters like Jimmy but also a proficient offensive system that can generate open looks for others.

In general, this Heat team takes a lot of open shots but also over 40 percent are taken with a defender between two and four feet. That’s a rough shot selection.

Miami has had as many clutch games as anyone and that shows no signs of slowing down. They’re going to grind out a good amount of wins from those but they’ll also face a decent amount of losses unless they see a change in their offensive proficiency.

This is where the regular season really matters, as this affects seeding, wear, and tear on your roster. However, this is still early in the season and there is plenty of time to develop and experiment.

But that would require either a trade or an internal leap to make a sizable difference. Most likely, that could come from Tyler Herro, as he’s already proved his own scoring abilities.

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Whatever those answers may be, it all boils down to this. Jimmy Butler is great but he can’t be the only end-of-game offense for the Miami Heat.