In a crucial Florida showdown, the Miami Heat put together one of their best performances of the season and dominated the Orlando Magic in a wire-to-wire 121-95 victory Tuesday night at the Kaseya Center.
Why the Heat won: New rotations in sync
Not only did Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra make a change in the starting lineup by inserting Caleb Martin over Haywood Highsmith, Spoelstra also decided to change the rotations and at times run lineups that have not been ran before.
In the first quarter with 5:33 left to go, Jimmy Butler was the first starter to be subbed out, with Jaime Jaquez Jr. being the first player off the bench. This is quite a change, as in many other instances Butler would play most of if not all of the first quarter.
Butler then re-entered with 3:39 left in the first, but this time the rest of the starters left the court and Butler was running the show with the second unit. It was bold of Spoelstra to tinker with his rotation against a good Magic team, but the results paid off and combinations flowed well.
With Butler leading the second unit, there is a lot of off-ball action to account for with Butler, Duncan Robinson and Jaquez, who are effective in getting to their spots and making timely cuts. Butler and Jaquez will have the room to operate around the basket and the mid-range area with Kevin Love, Robinson, and Josh Richardson surrounding them.
In the non-Butler minutes, Spoelstra ran Tyler Herro, Terry Rozier and Bam Adebayo with two of Richardson, Jaquez, Robinson and Martin. Miami stretched its lead to 20 in the first half.
Even with the possible defensive concerns of a Rozier-and-Herro backcourt, there's no better player to anchor a defense than Adebayo. And with other wings around those two in Martin, Jaquez and Richardson, the Heat still disrupted the Magic's offensive flow and scored often in transition.
With Herro and Rozier on the court, you have two ball handlers who are threats in transition and can get to their spots in the halfcourt. Both players can also operate in the pick-and-roll game with Adebayo and can keep defenses on their heels with the lob threat and the ability to hit pull-up jump shots or floaters in drop coverage.
Quote of the night: "There's nothing wrong with a little bit adversity"
When asked about the team's togetherness and playing within their role during their bad stretch, Spoelstra quickly gave his thoughts before the question was even finished.
"There's nothing wrong with a little bit of adversity in this league. Success can be the worst teacher, it can be the worst formula sometimes," Spoelstra said.
Spoelstra mentioned that the rough stretches during the season made the team deal with "hard realities," but echoed that staying together as a group can lead to positive results.
"As long as you approach it the right way and you rally around solutions, rally around each other and get to work, you can actually have breakthroughs."
Highlight of the night: Jimmy Butler's unreal layup
A lot of Jimmy Butler's best moments came in the fourth quarter as he put the game away with eight straight points after Orlando cut Miami's lead to 10. But Butler's top highlight came early in the second quarter with a jaw-dropping finish at the basket.
Even with two defenders around him, Butler converted on a tough spinning layup off the glass with a soft touch and great body control.
When Butler is going to the basket either off the ball or driving to the rim, it's often that Butler usually up fakes and gets a defender in the air to draw a foul or find an open teammate. But in this instance, Butler decided to score with no hesitation, and the result ended up being one of the best finishes Butler has had all season.