Winderman’s view: Heat keep foot on the gas, so no need for clutch vs. Magic
ORLANDO — Observations and other notes of interest from Wednesday night’s 115-106 victory over the Orlando Magic:
– Building leads the Heat have been quite good at this season.
– Retaining leads? Not so much.
– That’s what made this one interesting as the lead moved into the 20s.
– With Monday’s loss to the Timberwolves from 17 up still fresh in the mind.
– For as many as the Heat have cycled through to start games this season, the overall record largely has been about the finishes.
– In a season where there already have been a pair of blown 21-point leads, there rarely has been a sense of closure.
– And this time the Heat were asked to do it without their closer, with Jimmy Butler out with his calf strain.
– And they did.
– So much of this game is about muscle memory.
– Perhaps this becomes one when the Heat recognize the value of sustaining, even with a slight blip at the close.
– If so, a needed and welcomed step.
– So no, no clutch game this time, no margin of five points or less in the final five minutes.
– With Butler out, the Heat opened with their 16th lineup in their 28 games, this time: Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry.
– It was Jaquez’s fifth start, taking him from the bench role where he had thrived.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said pregame that Jaquez had the maturity to adjust to roles without altering his approach.
– “I would say for the most part, his role has been pretty stable and consistent all season long,” Spoelstra said. “Even if he starts or doesn’t start, it’s really the same role.”
– Spoelstra added, “He has had opportunities to grow because he’s earned it, and that’s happened I think naturally over the course of the season. But we’ve said this many times, he’s mature for being a rookie.”
– There also was the adjustment of being without backup center Kevin Love, who remained behind with a stomach illness.
– “We have enough continuity,” Spoelstra said. “We have enough role definition, role clarity. We understand what our identity is. There’s enough continuity with our group, that even if guys have to miss a game or two or whatever, we know what needs to get done. And it’s just a matter of doing it.”
– Inactive for the Heat were Butler, Love, RJ Hampton, Cole Swider and Dru Smith.
– All but Butler and Love were in attendance.
– Thomas Bryant and Josh Richardson entered together in the Heat’s first substitution.
– Duncan Robinson followed.
– And then Haywood Highsmith.
– That left Jamal Cain, Orlando Robinson and Nikola Jovic as the lone available Heat players not to see action in the primary rotation.
– The Heat mixed in a bunch of zone with those early rotations.
– It helped that the Magic couldn’t make a 3-pointer.