Domination at Kaseya Center on Sunday night. The Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Hornets 104-87 in their last game of a four-game homestand. Miami stars Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro returned to the lineup after suffering minor injuries earlier this week, but the team was still without Jimmy Butler.
Why the Heat won: Miami locks down the Hornets on defensive end
Head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke on the Heat’s identity after a narrow win against the Orlando Magic on Friday, pointing toward a defensive mindset. Spoelstra voiced the fact that Miami can win any type of game, whether that’s a defensive battle, offensive shootout, or even if there’s a rough night for their stars.
The Heat forced 13 turnovers and held the Hornets to a 34.7 field goal percentage. Charlotte never found their identity in the matchup. They tried scoring in a multitude of ways but were dry from beyond the arc and couldn’t compete with the Heat’s paint presence. Charlotte shot 10 of 40 from three-point land.
Miami switched on-ball screens, playing a phenomenal version of help defense on the strong side of the ball. Their rotation meshed extremely well, and this was replicated on offense. They moved the ball with ease, forcing Charlotte to play catch up. The Heat held the advantage against Charlotte in the assists, steals, and blocks categories.
Stat of the game: Heat find success in transition
The Heat turned the game into a track race. Two of their best transition players, Kevin Love and Jimmy Butler didn’t play in the matchup, but the Heat found their calling on the fastbreak. They outscored the Hornets 25-4 on fastbreak points.
This helped Miami have four players with 15 or more points, with Tyler Herro notching 21 and Bam Adebayo scoring 24 on the night. Both teams struggled to find any type of heartbeat in the first few minutes, but Charlotte started to lean toward isolation plays and Miami took the edge. They used the long rebound advantage on three-point attempts and defensive rebounding on missed layups to find quick outlets down the court.
One of the leaders in pushing the pace was rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. The Hornets scored 16 points in the first quarter, while Jacquez had 15 (of Miami's first 22) himself. The rookie started the game with the hot hand but ended up leaving with a groin injury. He did not return to action for the second half and is considered day-to-day, according to Spoelstra.
Top Performer: Bam Adebayo
Adebayo secured a near triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He shot 9-17, leading the team in minutes played with over 35 on the night. The two-way star led the Heat on both ends of the floor. He guarded all positions against the Hornets, pushing Charlotte into tough opportunities.
The Hornets had a difficult time getting shots around the basket with the Heat's blitz defense off screens. Charlotte couldn't even settle for three-point attempts with such persistent on-ball defense. Miami left the weak side open and dared the Hornets into shooting jumpers around the 15-foot mark and contested floaters that led to easy boards.
Whatever the lineup may be on a night-to-night basis, Adebayo is the anchor of the Heat's squad. He's the most important player on the roster and he proves that each and every night with the impact he makes on both ends.