NBA

Butler proves worth, Miami surprise and rookies star – Heat season review in Stats Perform data

By Sports Desk November 01, 2020

Not many expected the Miami Heat to make a run to the NBA Finals in 2019-20 but that is exactly what they did.

The Heat missed the playoffs in two of the three previous seasons heading into the campaign, while their last Finals appearance was in 2014.

But the arrival of Jimmy Butler and Miami's unity ignited the Heat before and after the coronavirus-enforced break.

The Heat were locked-in at Walt Disney World Resort, where Erik Spoelstra's side made it all the way to the showpiece.

While the Heat fell short 4-2 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the best-of-seven series, there was plenty of upside in Miami.

As the Heat look to build on a stellar season, we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.

 

Heat defy odds

Miami had their work cut out in a stacked Eastern Conference, headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks, defending champions the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics and the championship-chasing Philadelphia 76ers.

The hard-playing Heat ended the regular season with a 44-29 record – ahead of the 76ers and good enough for the fifth seed.

Miami became the fourth team in history seeded fifth or worse to reach the NBA Finals, following the Houston Rockets (sixth seeds in 1995 and 1981) and New York Knicks (eighth seeds in 1999).

Before going into the Orlando bubble, the Heat were a far better team at home than on the road.

The Heat boasted a 27-5 home record, compared to 14-19 away from Miami (42.0 per cent differential) – only the 76ers (29-2 at home and 10-24 on the road) had a greater differential of 64.1 per cent.

 

Butler silences critics

The maligned five-time All-Star landed in Miami after brief stints in Philadelphia and Minnesota.

After falling out in Minnesota, Butler departed the Timberwolves for the 76ers in 2018. He almost led Philadelphia to the NBA Finals, but Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beating shot in Game 7 lifted the Raptors to a stunning win in the second round.

Plagued by question marks over his attitude, Butler opted to leave the 76ers for the Heat in a sign and trade, and the 31-year-old finally looks at home in Miami.

Featuring in his first NBA Finals, Butler led the Heat in scoring (26.2 points per game), rebounding (8.3 rebounds per game) and assists (9.8 assists per game). That included a 40-point, 11-rebound, 13-assist effort in Miami's Game 3 win, just the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history (and the only one in a win).

Butler almost singlehandedly carried the injury-hit Heat – who were without stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic for large parts of the series – past the Lakers, playing 258 minutes in six games, more than LeBron James, Anthony Davis and any other player.

 

Rookies fire Heat

The Heat received big contributions from first-year players Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, who averaged 15.3 and 13.5 points per game respectively.

They were the first NBA team to have multiple rookies average at least 13.0 ppg since the 2001-02 Memphis Grizzlies (Pau Gasol and Shane Battier; minimum 40 games played). The only other such Heat rookie duo was Sherman Douglas (14.3 ppg) and Glen Rice (13.6 ppg) in 1989-90.

Nunn's 15.3 points per game were the most by an undrafted rookie in 70 years – Frankie Brian averaged 17.8 per game with the 1949-50 Anderson Packers.

As for Duncan Robinson, he took a huge step forward in 2019-20, after struggling for game time as a rookie in 2018-19.

Robinson went from averaging 3.3 points per game to 13.5ppg this term (plus-10.2) – only Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young (+10.5) and the Charlotte Hornets' Devonte' Graham (+13.5) enjoyed larger improvements.

Related items

  • Myles Garrett still on COVID list, will miss Browns-Jaguars Myles Garrett still on COVID list, will miss Browns-Jaguars

    Myles Garrett will not return for the Cleveland Browns this week as he remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list, coach Kevin Stefanski has confirmed.

    Star defensive end Garrett was placed on the list last week and missed the Browns' 22-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Cleveland improved to 7-3 in second place in the AFC North but will again have to cope without Garrett against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars.

    "We're ruling him out because that's what the protocol calls for," Stefanski said of the first overall 2017 draft pick.

    Garrett holds the joint-lead for sacks in the NFL this year, his tally of 9.5 matched by the New Orleans Saints' Trey Hendrickson on Sunday.

    The one-time Pro Bowler has also forced four fumbles in 2020, tied with the Baltimore Ravens' Marlon Humphrey for what is already a career-best in that regard.

    Garrett missed the opportunity to improve his numbers against the Eagles, whose struggling quarterback Carson Wentz has now taken 40 sacks and 10 fumbles - both dismal league highs.

  • Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reinier tests positive for coronavirus Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reinier tests positive for coronavirus

    Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reinier has tested positive for coronavirus, the German club have announced.

    The 18-year-old, who joined Dortmund on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid in August, underwent PCR tests for COVID-19 upon his return from international duty with Brazil Under-23s last week.

    Reinier was not part of Dortmund's squad for their Bundesliga win over Hertha Berlin at the weekend and no other BVB players have tested positive.

    Dortmund confirmed the news on Monday, a day before their Champions League match with Club Brugge, and added that the teenager is asymptomatic and is now self-isolating.

    He has been used seven times by Lucien Favre, each of those appearances coming from the bench.

    Reinier, who won the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores with Flamengo in 2019, has yet to score, assist or create a chance in his three Bundesliga outings and has managed just one shot.

    Tuesday's meeting with Brugge is the first of three home games in a row for Dortmund, with Koln and Lazio to come in the next nine days.

  • Neymar and Mbappe need to step up against Leipzig - Tuchel Neymar and Mbappe need to step up against Leipzig - Tuchel

    Thomas Tuchel says Paris Saint-Germain need Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to be on top of their game if they are to beat RB Leipzig in Tuesday's huge Champions League clash.

    Last season's finalists trail Group H pacesetters Manchester United and Leipzig by three points at the midway stage after losing to both teams in their opening three matches, either side of beating Istanbul Basaksehir.

    PSG will be facing the prospect of making an early exit from the competition if they lose at home to the Bundesliga club and under-fire head coach Tuchel is willing to risk the fitness of Neymar for a match he has described as a "final".

    Neymar missed three PSG games with a groin injury and was released from Brazil duty before being given 30 minutes from the bench in Friday's 3-2 loss to Monaco - a result that increased the pressure on Tuchel.

    The forward, who has two goals in seven appearances this term, will start against Leipzig at the Parc des Princes in a repeat of last season's semi-final.

    "We need him. He needs to be on the pitch for us," Tuchel said at a news conference on Monday. "He has the quality and the experience.

    "He is not in the best shape physically but he will start tomorrow. He can manage that both physically and mentally, though I hope we don't depend on him."

    Mbappe scored PSG's two goals in their defeat to Monaco but is without a Champions League goal in 2020, failing to score in 529 minutes across seven appearances in the competition since netting against Galatasaray last December.

    "If Neymar or Kylian don't score, of course it has an impact for us," Tuchel said. "I hope they score tomorrow. We need Kylian's goals. He is doing everything possible to be decisive.

    "He played with the France team. Against Monaco, he scored two goals. Now is the time for him, as well as for Ney, to be decisive again."

    Tuchel started with Neymar, Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Moise Kean for the win over Basaksehir and has hinted he may go with a similar attack-minded system against Leipzig.

    "It is of course a possibility," he said. "We want to win - it's a final in the group. I absolutely want us to have more courage to score than fear to have problems defensively. 

    "It will take courage to score, so it's a possibility. We must find two players in the middle capable of making the effort if we play with a 4-4-2. 

    "But it is also possible that we play in 4-3-3. We used it in Leipzig as well as in the knockout stages last season. There are two possibilities, we will wait to see who is available."

    However, Tuchel will have to make do without Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gueye, Juan Bernat and Thilo Kehrer, while Ander Herrera and Marco Verratti will be assessed later on Monday.

    PSG have lost four of their last six games against German opponents in the Champions League, including each of the last two - 1-0 v Bayern Munich and 2-1 v Leipzig.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.