The Miami Heat opened the season restart with a win over the short-handed Denver Nuggets. Despite missing three key starters, the Nuggets held a one-point lead at halftime. However, the Heat took over the game in the third period by outscoring the Nuggets 38-22 in the period. And they never looked back from there. Miami improved to 42-24 with the win and are now 1.5 games back from the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Now here’s my four takeaways from Saturday’s victory over the Nuggets.
Jimmy leads the way
Throughout the season there was talk about Jimmy Butler‘s struggles with his jump shot. However, the Heat star continues to find ways other ways to impact the game. On Saturday, he did it by scoring 22 points, with 10 of those points coming from the free-throw line. He also did well defending the Denver bigs and dished out seven assists. Butler did it all today, including beating the buzzer to end the period.
🚨BUZZER BEATER ALERT🚨
#22 straight dominating today pic.twitter.com/clnlmwZL7N
— x – Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 1, 2020
Jimmy’s all-star partner Bam Adebayo also had a dominant game. Despite missing time due to Covid-19, Adebayo showed why he deserved to be an all-star going toe to toe with Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. Along with Butler, Adebayo played a huge role in the Heat’s dominant third quarter. The Heat center had seven points, three rebounds, and three assists in the period.
Adebayo finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes.
New lineup change
The biggest surprise came when the opened the game with a different lineup. The team went with a starting lineup of Kendrick Nunn, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, and Bam Adebayo in their first seeding game. Crowder replaced Meyers Leonard, who started 49 games for the team prior to his ankle injury.
The team’s new lineup immediately made an impact with a 15-8 opening start. Crowder did well in his new role as a starter. The Heat forward finished with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting on threes and seven rebounds.
Olynyk stays hot
Miami’s lineup change also impacted the rotation. Leonard went from being a starter to not playing at all. It was his first DNP-Coach’s Decision of the season. The majority of the team’s backup center minutes went to Kelly Olynyk, who’s been on fire since the season restarted. Olynyk once again played exceptionally well off the bench. He drew charges on the defensive end and shot the ball very well on offense.
Olynyk finished the day with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting on threes. All of his points came in the fourth quarter.
Next up: The Toronto Raptors on Monday. Game tips off at 1:30 pm Eastern.
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