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Winderman’s view: About only Heat question now is where is the Love?

MIAMI – Observations and other notes of interest from Sunday night’s 128-102 NBA playoff victory over the Boston Celtics:

– The decision entering the night seemingly was whether Kevin Love would remain a Heat starter with the Celtics moving to small ball with their first five.

– It turns out that Love made the decision for coach Erik Spoelstra, when he was forced out by an ankle injury with 4:47 remaining in the opening period.

– In this game, it did not matter.

– And might have been beneficial.

– With Caleb Martin playing so well.

– (Is there a better value contract in the league at the moment than the three-year, $20.4 million deal Martin signed in the offseason?)

– But this already is a shorthanded roster.

– With Tyler Herro out following hand surgery.

– And Victor Oladipo out following knee surgery.

– As it was, Love was playing well when sidelined.

– And Love in the starting lineup had set up the Heat’s bench rotation.

– Even with Love playing nominal minutes.

– So perhaps a Haywood Highsmith revival?

– Highsmith certainly has had his moments this season.

– As seemingly has everyone and anyone this season.

– Otherwise, there is not much depth in the power rotation.

– With all due respect to Nikola Jovic and the massive learning curve that awaits.

– (Two-way players Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson are not eligible for the playoff roster unless the Heat’s list of available players drops below nine.)

– But with quick work of the Celtics, there also would be ample recuperation time.

– As for the Celtics, what the heck was that Sunday?

– It’s as if Brad Stevens should coach Game 4.

– The Celtics for the first time in the series opened with their small lineup, the same lineup they shifted to at the start of the second half of Game 2.

– So out of Boston’s opening mix was Robert Williams, with Derrick White in his place, starting alongside Al Horford, Jayson Tatum,  Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

– The Heat nonetheless remained with their bigger opening group, again starting Bam Adebayo, Love, Jimmy Butler, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.

– “You just have to be ready for anything and everything in the playoffs,” Heat coach Erik Spoelsrta said. “There are a lot of unpredictable things that can happen, and you know, they have a couple different lineups that they go to, so it doesn’t necessarily matter whether they start it or get to it.”

– Spoelstra added, “You have to be able to manage through a lot of different things, and you hope that they have to manage through some things with us, as well.”

– That realignment had Butler opening defensively on Tatum, Adebayo on Smart.

– There also were a pair of small-on-big defensive matchups.

– With Vincent guarding Brown.

– And Smart guarding Love.

– The Heat soon went smaller, with Martin entering for Love with 7:18 remaining in the opening period, with Love retreating to the locker room.

– Kyle Lowry then followed off the Heat bench.

– With Cody Zeller in next for the Heat.

– And Duncan Robinson then making it nine deep.

– Which largely has been the Heat approach in this series.

– Robinson’s first 3-point attempt was the 300th of his playoff career.

– Butler’s fourth free-throw attempt was the 750th of his playoff career.

– For as much as they have struggled at home this postseason, with a 4-5 home record, the Celtics entered 4-2 on the road.

– “Just stay poised throughout the game,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Regardless of home or away, when we’re at our best, we keep our poise. We execute down the stretch, whether it’s defense, offense, and just kind of stick together.”

– Or not.

– Vincent said no matter the series score, the Heat priorities remain the same.

– “They’ve been shooting the three-ball really well all year. So just trying to disrupt them, disrupt their flow,” he said.

– He added, “We’re just trying to make things difficult. You know, they’re going to get shots. They’re going to get shots that they want. But just try to make it as difficult and as hard as possible.”

– Martin on the connectedness of this season’s roster, “I mean we’re just a connected group. I mean you just kind of feel it. When you’re a good team and you’re rolling and you’re flowing, you feel that as a team.”

– He added, “And I think that goes all the way back to the summer, really last year. We haven’t changed too much since last year when we were in this position. We just have such a good group of guys that love playing with each other.”

– Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel again was in the crowd.

– Waving his Beat Boston rally towel to the camera in the third period.

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