With Jimmy Butler in and out of the Miami Heat’s line-up, Tyler Herro has gone on one of the best stretches in his four-year career since coming back from an eight-game absence caused by an ankle injury.
Miami won four of its first five games after Herro’s return and, though a two-game skid followed, they bounced back with a hard-fought 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The 22-year-old Herro has made strides in his game, particularly with his rebounding and playmaking. This was highlighted by his first career triple double in their 106-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks last November 28 where he put up 11 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and added one steal.
Herro is averaging a career-best 6.6 rebounds per game this season–almost two rebounds over his career-average of 4.9–and has grabbed double-digit rebounds in four out of the 18 games that he has appeared in. His athleticism allows him to become an effective rebounder and this is crucial given the Heat’s general lack of size in the frontcourt.
The 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is also putting up career-high assist numbers. While his 4.2 assists per game is only slightly higher than his average of four last season, he has capitalized on Butler’s absences and picked up the pace over the last two weeks. Herro has had three games with at least nine assists since late November and is averaging 6.1 assists per game in their last eight contests.
Miami’s fourth-year guard has quietly improved his efficiency in scoring the ball as well by putting an emphasis on attacking the basket. He is averaging 20 points per game this season on vastly improved percentages. Herro is hitting 53.3% of his two-pointers which has allowed him to shoot a career-high 45.4% from the field despite making a career-low 35.8% of his three-pointers.
His free throw shooting has improved too and he has now made his last 23 free throw attempts. This hot streak has brought up his free throw percentage to 90.6% this season and this consistency from the line will be crucial for the Heat especially once the playoffs roll in.
The most important contribution of Herro to this team though is his ability to switch seamlessly between roles. Now that Butler has returned from a bout with knee soreness and Kyle Lowry continues to produce at his advanced age, Herro is likely to play off-ball more often in his runs with the starters. His three-point shooting provides valuable spacing with this group and it should only be a matter of time before he breaks out of his early season slump.
When alongside the second unit, typically in those minutes bridging the first and second quarter then the third and fourth periods, Herro will have to continue showing the same aggressive form that he has displayed in these past few weeks. He is the focal point of these line-ups and his ability to create shots for himself and his teammates will be tested.
If Herro can strike this delicate balance and Miami can remain healthy, it will only be a matter of time before they overcome their 12-14 start to the season and find themselves back in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference standings. They are only two games behind the fourth-place Brooklyn Nets and nine out of the top seed. This team has typically thrived in the second half of the regular season and all indications suggest that it will only be a matter of time before they go on another run.
Herro’s influence on this team should only continue to grow in the coming months and he will be a major factor in determining how far the Heat can ultimately go this season.
Jimmy Buckets lived up to his nickname
Jimmy Butler’s missed about a third of the Miami Heat’s games so far this season, but he’s still capable of making an impact when he does take the court. He showed it again in a closely contested 115-110 victory against the LA Clippers, who at one point had a double-digit lead in the game before the Heat turned things around.
Butler put on one of those important performances again, as he finished the game with 26 points, five rebounds, eight assists and four steals while shooting 10 of 12 overall. His missed shots came in the first quarter, and he made everything after that.
Butler did a little bit of everything, including skying for important rebounds.
He was also unafraid to take and make a big jumper in the final minutes that helped pad the Heat’s small lead.
Butler’s efforts were matched by Bam Adebayo, who also had a fine game with 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a steal on 14 of 21 shooting. The two did enough to also help cover for a missing Kyle Lowry, who was rested for the game.
Today’s loss will be a tough pill for the Clippers to swallow, as it meant they lost both of their back-to-back games after losing to the Orlando Magic in overtime yesterday. That loss was even worse as they blew an 18-point lead to the worst team in the East.
There was some frustration from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George after that game as the former was held out until there was only 1:22 left in the period and the latter entered the game with 5.5 seconds left. Leonard sat out the game against the Heat but Paul George played and led his team with 29 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal.