Winderman’s view: A lineup change, Spoelstra dishes on McDaniel getup, and, oh, a win
Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 121-114 victory over the Washington Wizards:
– On a night of bells and whistles, the goal was singular.
– A “W”.
– Yes, the court was red – very, very red – for the Heat’s inaugural In-Season Tournament game.
– And, yes, the City Edition jerseys said “Culture” across the chest, in case anyone wasn’t already beaten over the head with the concept during last season’s playoff run.
– But entering 1-4, this wasn’t about fashion statements or haute couture.
– It was about slowly removing stench.
– From a start to the season that otherwise had Erik Spoelstra’s team seeing red.
– And it came with a plot twist at the outset.
– In the first non-injury, non-absence lineup change of the season, the Heat replaced Kevin Love in the first five with Haywood Highsmith.
– Rounding out the starting lineup were Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry.
– The move eventually could upgrade the defense at the outset, and perhaps allow Highsmith to grow into added 3-point shooting, as well.
– But it also leaves the Heat with precious little in terms of a second line of defense when Adebayo is drawn defensively to the perimeter.
– Hardly his dominant self at the start of the season, including landing on the injury report with knee pain, Butler was up to 11 points at the end of the opening period, more in attack mode than his previous four appearances. He then, however, went scoreless in the second quarter, missing both of his attempts.
– The Wizards opened with Tyus Jones, Jordan Poole, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma and Daniel Gafford.
– Kuzma by the end of the first period already had tied his season single-game high of three 3-pointers.
– Early on, it was as if the Wizards couldn’t miss.
– Duncan Robinson played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– With Thomas Bryant, and not Love, entering as the Heat’s first big man off the bench.
– Josh Richardson then made it eight deep for the Heat.
– With Jaime Jaquez Jr. next.
– And still no Love.
– So what was behind Spoelstra dressing as Mike McDaniel for Halloween? Spoelstra explained before Friday night’s game.
– “My kids had some Dolphins stuff,” he said, “so they had a party earlier in the week where they were dressed as Transformers. The Transformers outfit did not fit me. It was for kids. So I wasn’t going to dress as a Dolphins player. And I thought, ‘Ah, I know what I can do,’ and it’s a pretty simple outfit, a sweatsuit and headset.”
– He added, “I thought I pulled it off the glasses. I thought I pulled it off pretty well. A really cheap watch, though. It’s a fake.”
– It was quite the night for bells and whistles.
– As for the game featuring an almost solid red court for the NBA In-Season Tournament, with the Heat wearing those new City Edition uniforms with “Culture” across the chest?
– “I don’t mind it at all,” Spoelstra said. “I think it’s good for the game. I mean we’ll have to see how it all plays out. But I think anything that inspires more competition in this league I think is good.”
– He added, “The court, I think it should feel different than a normal game. The uniforms have nothing to do with this, but we love the new uniforms each year. And then in particular what it symbolizes this year.”
– Of the scheduling twists with the tournament, Spoelstra said, “Nobody knows exactly what to expect from this, but I think it’s going to be a good thing and I think our players understand that.”
– Spoelstra’s goal going in was the same as going into Wednesday night’s loss to the Nets.
– “They have to feel us and we have to sustain it,” he said.
– Of the Wizards, he said, “This team is not going to stop and the pace is fast and frenetic.”
– The Heat entered having won 17 straight divisional regular-season home games (Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, Washington), the longest such active streak in the NBA. The franchise record is 20 consecutive division home wins.
– Herro entered having led the Heat in scoring in a career-best four consecutive games.