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Heat show 3-point range, as Herro, Swider set tone during intrasquad scrimmage

MIAMI — Four months after their season came to a close in a road loss to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat were back on the court Monday at Kaseya Center. Sort of.

In what amounted to a close of the team’s training camp, the Heat held their annual Red, White & Pink Game, an intrasquad scrimmage to benefit cancer research.

It meant a return of familiar faces, such as Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, as well as a variety of newcomers on the 21-player preseason roster that has to be trimmed to no more than 18 by Oct. 23.

“It’s going to be a heck of a ride.” coach Erik Spoelstra said to the crowd, before handing the night’s coaching responsibilities to assistants Malik Allen and Caron Butler.

Herro, subject of many offseason trade rumors, set the tone with 17 points in the 10-minute first quarter, before most of the rotation players sat for the balance of the night. There also was plenty of bounce from first-round pick Jaime Jaquez Jr., who closed with 20 points.

“It was a lot of fun being out there, first time, with the guys, home crowd,” Jaquez said. “I think I’m ready right now.”

Spoelstra did not overstate Herro’s moment.

“This was him just launching open 30-footers,” Spoelstra said. “What he did in camp was much more impressive. He literally did everything in camp.

“I think he’s poised for a big jump this year.”

The scrimmage also allowed roster hopeful Cole Swider to show his range, with the former Los Angeles Lakers two-way player closing with 27 points, including 6 of 12 on 3-pointers.

“I don’t have a contract right now. I’m working to get one,” Swider said. “So my attitude is a little bit different.”

But it was the spirit of the night, and the embrace of cancer survivors that most resonated.

“You are an inspiration to all of us,” Spoelstra said to such spectators in the crowd.

Five Degrees of Heat from Monday night’s intrasquad scrimmage:

1. No hints: With Adebayo and Butler opening on opposite teams, there was no hint of potential lineup or rotation plans.

Butler’s team at the outset featured Josh Richardson, Herro, Thomas Bryant and Nikola Jovic. Adebayo’s team at the outset featured Kevin Love, Duncan Robinson, Kyle Lowry and Jaquez.

There were no definitive teams, with players switching rosters during the 40-minute game.

The lone player of the 21 on the preseason roster not to see action was forward Caleb Martin, who has been dealing with knee tendinosis that has been limiting him since Saturday’s final practice of training camp at Florida Atlantic University.

“He was grinding and then it wasn’t going away,” Spoelstra said of Martin’s knee pain.

2. Going deep: Herro and Robinson both made early 3-point statements, including a Herro conversion just feet from 35 feet.

At the scrimmage’s first break, Herro was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers and Robinson 3 of 5. Herro was up to five 3-pointers by the close of the period.

Later, Swider began draining 3-pointers, as part of his 16-point first half. Swider is on a tryout contract.

“You could see his size and variety of how he can shoot,” Spoelstra said, “and with more development he can expand that even more.”

The Heat struggled with their 3-point shooting during the 2022-23 regular season before coming around in the playoffs.

A goal this season will be replacing the 3-point shooting lost with the offseason free-agency departures of Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.

3. Perspective please: Of course, in an atypical Heat approach, defense largely was optional.

That had Jaquez, the No. 18 pick out of UCLA, breaking free for multiple early dunks.

For his part, Butler took his attempts left-handed, including free throws. He missed both of his attempts from the field, but did make his two first-quarter free throws in his cameo appearance.

4. Meaningful moments: Each of the Heat’s 21 players were accompanied during introductions by a doctor from Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute or by a patient currently undergoing cancer treatment.

“It’s a blessing to be a part of this,” said Bryant, who joined the Heat in the offseason as a free agent.

The loudest ovations during the introduction came for Herro, Adebayo, Butler and Heat 2015 second-round pick Richardson, in his Heat return.

“There’s no place,” Richardson said, “like home.”

5. What’s next: The Heat open their five-game preseason schedule with a 7:30 p.m. exhibition Tuesday against the visiting Charlotte Hornets.

“That’s what we’re looking forward to,” Bryant said, “seeing somebody who doesn’t wear a Heat jersey.”

It is the first of two exhibitions this week, with the Heat then to face Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs on the road in a nationally televised game Friday.

As for the arena itself, there now are larger video boards in each corner of the building, with the team yet to hang their 2023 Eastern Conference championship banner.

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