Winderman’s view: Heat show vs. Hawks the ability to do more with less
Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 117-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks:
– Because this is what the Heat do, find a way to make it a game even when the roster says otherwise.
– This time no Jimmy Butler or Tyler Herro.
– But, as coach Erik Spoelstra said pregame, “We have a lot of guys that have been chomping at the bit to try to get more minutes, and they’re going to get their opportunity now. The guys are prepared.”
– So Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Duncan Robinson as starters.
– A return by Kevin Love.
– Time for Dru Smith and Jamal Cain.
– And there it stood, a 21-point lead in the second period.
– But also down to 11 by halftime.
– And then to seven midway through the third.
– But, through it all, Spoelstra’s team found a way.
– Because this also is the essence of who they are.
– No, not the expected pedigree to have been in last season’s NBA Finals.
– Not expected to even compete on this night in Atlanta.
– And, yet, seemingly when least expected – a way.
– This team.
– You never know.
– And, in a way, you always know
– With Butler and Herro out, the Heat opened with Bam Adebayo, Haywood Highsmith, Kyle Lowry, Jaquez and Duncan.
– Josh Richardson would have been another option, but was dealing with back spasms.
– A move to Love as starter also was a possibility, as a means of Spoelstra getting him back in the mix.
– By going with Jaquez it was another indication that the preference remains smaller ball.
– Still, it was Love, and not Thomas Bryant, who entered as the Heat’s first big man off the bench.
– Love entered in the first substitution along with Richardson, who appeared to be moving well.
– Smith played as the Heat’s third reserve, in a twin-point tandem alongside Lowry.
– Cain played as the fourth Heat reserve, with Spoelstra nine deep in the opening period.
– Lowry’s third assist was his 800th with the Heat.
– Adebayo’s fourth conversion from the foul line moved him past Chris Bosh for sixth on the franchise all-time list.
– As Spoelstra had stressed, Adebayo said at the morning shootaround it has to be about defense when scorers are missing.
– “Just got to know that you can make up for that by obviously getting stops and playing in transition, so we don’t have to run plays,” Adebayo said.
– The Hawks entered averaging 121.8 points, the highest scoring average for the team through the season’s first eight games in franchise history.
– The Hawks were returning from a Thursday night game in Mexico City at 7,350 feet.
– “The altitude affected all of us,” guard Tre Young said in the wake of that victory over the Magic. “It affected me, too. There was a moment in the third quarter I had to come out. I usually come out early in the third quarter anyways. I mean I asked a couple more seconds before the altitude got to me. I was getting really tired in the third and then I was able to get a breather.”
– Next up for the Heat are the Spurs on Sunday in San Antonio.
– Coming off Friday’s loss to Minnesota, Spurs guard Devin Vassell said, “We’re going to win this next game.”
– As in the Heat game.
– Told of the guarantee, Spurs rookie big man Victor Wembanyama said, “Really? I trust him.”
– In the end, none of the Heat’s two-way players were available for their affiliate’s G League opener,
– Beyond Cole Swider returning from the Sioux Falls Skyforce for Saturday night’s game in Atlanta, Cain remained with the Heat, while R.J. Hampton suffered a knee injury during a Skyforce practice and has returned to Miami.