4 Killer mistakes the Miami Heat cannot repeat next season

Here's what the Miami Heat can learn from a disappointing season that ended after just five playoff games.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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1. Sticking with Herro as a starter for too long

The Heat had high expectations this season, with many predicting Herro to shine as an All-Star caliber player. In certain aspects, Herro's season mirrored that of Miami's. He faced availability issues and struggled when limited rotation options were presented against specific opponents. Nevertheless, he remained true to his core identity as a player.

Miami's bench presence has the potential to be a driving key element. We are all aware of the widely accepted belief that roster depth can greatly contribute to a team's success. For many teams, the sixth man and the bench players play a crucial role in winning playoff games.

One of the major storylines for the team during the offseason was Herro's new role. The talented shooting guard finally received his promotion to the starting lineup. However, Tyler's role as a starter seemed to have caused some issues, particularly on the defensive end. Herro lacks speed and is easily outmaneuvered by opponents in the paint. While the team's performance issues cannot be solely blamed on him, if Herro were to return as the leader of the second unit, the Heat could regain their threat status.

Miami was one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and their success was largely attributed to their strong defense. Additionally, the distribution of roles within the team helped them effectively handle their opponents. Herro's role as the primary scorer off the bench provided a consistent offensive threat for the team.

Opposing teams struggled to defend against Herro, as some lacked the necessary personnel to stop him. Under head coach Spoelstra's guidance, Tyler was given the freedom to score at will, allowing him to showcase his scoring abilities.

Currently, the team is facing a lack of reliable scoring options from the bench. Herro has the potential to be a consistent scorer for the Heat's second unit rather than a starter. Miami is focusing on getting more possessions for Herro and Adebayo as they develop into their key players. Adebayo's impact, particularly on the defensive end, is undeniable. Herro thrives on offense when he has the ball in his hands.

The Heat are not the only team facing the challenge of managing possessions, but the teams that find a solution are the ones that ultimately succeed at the highest level. The issue lies not in the number of shots Herro takes, but rather in how long he holds onto the ball. In comparison to Duncan Robinson's special ability to release the ball quickly, Herro tends to hold onto the ball for too long.

Miami's notion that "defense wins championships" fails to capture the full picture, as a strong offense is equally vital for success in the playoffs. Despite having above-average 3-point shooting, the offense hindered the team's progress and ranked in the lower half of the league for the third time in five years. However, there were individual bright spots within the team. Herro had a strong start to the season and Butler remained a crucial mismatch seeker.

The trio of Butler, Duncan Robinson, and Adebayo has proven to be a more effective combination for Miami's offense compared to Butler, Herro, and Adebayo over the past four seasons from 2020-2024. In the 2023-24 season, Butler, Robinson, and Adebayo displayed a superior ORTG of 119.5 (+3.2), while Butler, Herro, and Adebayo had an ORTG of 115.5 (-0.8). These statistics highlight Robinson's compatibility in the starting lineup and the need for increased playtime alongside Butler and Adebayo in the upcoming season. Robinson's evolution into a more versatile player has significantly benefited the team offensively. Despite Herro's impact, his effectiveness is contingent on his health and the team's rotation.

Miami's offensive struggles can be attributed to the inconsistent pairing of players and suboptimal player usage. The team's lackluster performance, particularly in 3-point shooting, underscores the need for a more cohesive offensive strategy.

The issues faced by the team this season may extend beyond individual player performance. While some players met expectations, others fell short, indicating underlying team dynamics that require attention in the offseason.

Herro, the 2021 Sixth Man of the Year, has predominantly started in regular-season games since receiving the award. Although his offensive production dipped slightly when coming off the bench, his overall performance, both offensively and defensively, improved in this role.

Herro's outstanding shooting skills have been instrumental in elevating the Heat's offensive production to unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, his 40 missed games hurt the team's ability to escape the play-in tournament.

“He’s been fragile a little bit,” Riley said bluntly.

Having a fully healthy Herro back will be a massive upgrade if he isn't traded this offseason, but he may be best if he returns to a sixth man role.