Are the Heat better without Tyler Herro's scoring?

The Heat are 4-1 since Tyler Herro's ankle injury after starting 4-4 with Herro in the lineup. Is this pure coincidence that Miami turned this thing around when Herro went down, similar to last year's Finals run?
Washington Wizards v Miami Heat
Washington Wizards v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Are the Miami Heat really better without Tyler Herro, like so many people believe?

A case study should examine why Tyler Herro is discussed the way he is in the basketball world. Context is thrown out the window when he's the talking point. Yes, the Miami Heat went on a four-game winning streak without Herro before blowing a game to the Chicago Bulls, but many things out of Herro's control have contributed to that.

Let's start with the Heat getting healthier. Josh Richardson. Haywood Highsmith and Caleb Martin were mainly inactive when the Heat began the season 1-4. Three important energy players that take challenging defensive assignments are tough not to have in the lineup.

Richardson acts as a secondary ball-handler at times. J-rich is struggling from 3-point land, but don't expect him to continue shooting this poorly. Over the last two seasons, he's hit 37% and 40% from deep. Highsmith is shooting 69% at the rim and constantly flies all over the court, looking to make plays. Caleb Martin is still finding his groove, as he's only appeared in three games. Martin is a dangerous slasher who hustles up and down the court. It makes sense that the Heat struggled without key rotation pieces. Many teams won't have success with their best player playing below their standards as well.

During Miami's putrid 1-4 start, Jimmy Butler averaged 17 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. These are not the worst numbers, but Jimmy was shooting 35.7% from the floor and 25% from three. Jimmy is known for "coasting" throughout the regular season and flipping the switch in April when the playoffs occur.

Miami didn't have that luxury this season with the East getting stronger at the top; you want to avoid being one of those teams at the bottom facing some serious firepower at the top of the conference. Since the first five games, Butler is averaging 25 points, five rebounds, and three assists on 55/48/90 shooting splits. One could argue Jimmy is playing better because Herro is out of the lineup, but Herro was present for the first three games of the winning streak when Jimmy began to play better.

Bam Adebayo has had the best season of his career so far. Pair that with the aggressive role players returning to the lineup and Jimmy Butler shooting the leather off the ball, there's your answer as to why the Heat have been playing much better as of late. But the Heat did go to the Finals without Herro a season ago. How does his scoring truly contribute to winning?

The buckets cause havoc

Excluding Herro's last game, where he only played eight minutes, he's averaging 25 points while shooting 41% from three on nine attempts. That type of volume and efficiency causes the defense to play Herro differently.

We see Herro draw two to the ball and hit the corner man for a knockdown triple. With the shot clock running down, teams know he's usually the bail-out scorer for Miami. That was an excellent read to find Richardson. Herro took advantage of Royce O'Neal helping too far from the corner man (He was probably worried about Herro driving to the cup).

In this clip, we see D'Angelo Russell willingly let Bam cut straight down the middle of the floor to ensure Herro doesn't let off a 3-point bomb. This was poor defense, as Russell could've stayed with Bam while Austin Reaves picked up Herro, but great players cause defensive breakdowns.

Herro maximizes his scoring by involving his teammates when the defense is locked in on him. Getting open shots for your teammates contributes to winning to the highest degree. According to Cleaning The Glass, Miami's effective field goal is 2.2% better with Herro on the floor. He is tied for third on the team (higher than Bam and Jimmy). Of course, the Heat shoot better with Herro on the floor! He's one of the best shooters in the association and creates better looks for his teammates with his gravity.

The Heat aren't better without Herro; they're different, and that's okay. Without him, Jimmy has to be the primary scorer every game. Duncan Robinson has an expanded role, and we're seeing more and more from rookie sensation Jaime Jaquez Jr.

But they made the Finals without Herro, right?

That's true, but we can't forget the supernova shooting Caleb Martin possessed on the way to the Finals. Or the God-like performances Jimmy Butler put on display vs the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat sure did lack offensive firepower in the Finals with their 106 offensive rating (that would've been dead last in the regular season). Since the goal is to win the whole thing, Miami needs Herro. They aren't better without him. Hopefully, everyone can put it all together when he returns.

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