Tyler Herro says Heat won't beat Celtics 'with me taking a bunch of tough shots’

In Game 2, Tyler Herro ran the Miami Heat's offense to perfection. They'll need him to do it again in Game 3.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

Erik Spoelstra had high praise for Tyler Herro following the Miami Heat’s Game 2 win in Boston, telling Herro after the game that it was the best playmaking game of the 24-year-old’s career.

Herro finished Miami’s stunner with 24 points on 7 of 13 shooting and 14 assists. Without starting point guard Terry Rozier (neck) and offensive fulcrum Jimmy Butler (knee) in the lineup, more responsibility has been thrust on Herro’s shoulders. 

Not just to score with the mighty Celtics, but also to orchestrate an out-matched Heat offense. In Game 2, Herro did a bang-up job. The Heat will need him to keep it going in Game 3 on Saturday night.

“He did what was necessary the other night,” Spoelstra said after Friday’s practice at Kaseya Center. “They were throwing a lot at him, and the play oftentimes was to play-make and find the open spots behind the three-point line”

The Heat made a franchise-playoff record 23 3-pointers in the 111-101 win, shooting a scintillating 53.5% from the beyond the arc. Herro set up a bunch of them through his pick-and-roll game with Bam Adebayo.

“It’s not rocket science that they are going to be heavily involved in our offense,” Spoelstra said of Herro and Adebayo.

The Celtics gameplan in this series has been to allow Miami’s role players to get off open shots in order to take away the paint. The problem with the scheme was two-fold. 

First, Miami’s role players got hot. Caleb Martin, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic, Delon Wright and Haywood Highsmith combined to make 15 3s. 

Second, they hardly closed out on Miami’s shooters. Herro and Duncan Robinson were barely harassed when coming off a high screen or dribble handoff, and the Heat shot their way to a surprise win on the road.

Celtics coach Joe Mazulla will be under pressure to make adjustments in Game 3. Whatever the Celtics throw at the Heat’s offense, Herro will have to adjust.

“It may be different [in Game 3 on Saturday],” Spoelstra said. “They may scheme differently, they might change the matchups, they may do different coverages, and the ball will be in his hands with the responsibility to make the best decision for our team regardless of what they may be doing.”

Herro gets that the Heat can’t win with him calling his own number. For now, the Heat’s offense runs through him and Adebayo and, frankly, doesn’t have many other options. Even though he’s been in the playoffs every year of his five-year career, Herro has never had this much responsibility on this big a stage. It’s on 14 to set up his teammates.

“We’re not going to win with me taking a bunch of tough shots.” Herro said. “Obviously, some tough shots. But for a majority of the game, just making the right ply. And when we need a bucket, I’ll try to shoot my shot.”

Will the Celtics send two to the ball in Game 3 more often? Will they close out harder on Herro’s teammates and force him to take more shots himself? Will Jrue Holiday simply have one of those games where he shuts the water off on his assignment? 

Herro has a tendency to predetermine what he will do on a given possession. Game 2 on Wednesday was the best example of him not doing that. A repeat performance will further the idea that he truly has leveled up.

“It’s all of his experiences,” Spoelstra said. “The playoffs reveal everything.”