Observations and other notes of interest from Wednesday night’s 113-105 victory over the Washington Wizards:
– No, no easy explanation for these blown leads.
– Like the 21-point one the Heat held early in the third quarter.
– But this is what injury attrition does.
– It not only wears you down over the course of a schedule.
– It wears you down during a game.
– Example A: At one stage in the third quarter, the Heat were fielding a lineup of Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith, Jamal Cain and Gabe Vincent.
– In a game they had to win.
– And found a way to win.
– As it was, the Heat not only needed the Wizards, they needed these Wizards.
– A team on Wednesday night lacking Bradley Beal, Rudy Hachimura and Monte Morris.
– That more than leveled the playing field, particularly on a night the Heat had Tyler Herro back.
– To put into perspective how much was missing from Wednesday’s mix, consider that the night’s best lineup might have been one that was made up of the missing.
– Jimmy Butler. Beal. Hachimura. Morris. And Max Strus.
– And still for the Heat, yet another fight to the finish.
– The question now is who makes it back for Friday’s rematch on the Heat’s court.
– And, of course, whether Kyle Lowry will run out of gas.
– He was the engine, and everything else, for the Heat on Wednesday night when they were at their best.
– As he has been all season.
– This comeback clearly will take time for Tyler Herro.
– Just as it eventually will for Jimmy Butler.
– All of that with road games against the Hawks, Celtics, Celtics and Grizzlies to follow after Friday’s against the Wizards.
– After missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, Herro was back in the starting lineup.
– Butler missed his fourth consecutive game with knee soreness.
– So with Strus missing his first game of the season, due to a shoulder injury, the Heat again shifted Caleb Martin to small forward.
– The remainder of the starting lineup was rounded out by Lowry, Bam Adebayo and Nikola Jovic.
– With his second rebound, Adebayo reached 3,000 for his career.
– The Wizards opened with Jordan Goodwin, Corey Kispert, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis.
– Herro’s second 3-point attempt was the 1,100th of his career.
– The return of Herro was heartening, with coach Erik Spoelstra hopeful of more soon.
– “Everybody that’s not [back] is getting better,” Spoelstra said, “they’re getting healthier and we’re ready to go.”
– Vincent, back from his knee pain, played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– With Highsmith following next.
– And then Dedmon.
– With Jamal Cain making it nine deep after Herro was called for a third foul 31 seconds into the second period.
– Cain was active to the point that he had seven second-quarter rebounds, a period when the Wizards had only nine as a team.
– Highsmith’s first 3-point attempt was the 50th of his career.
– Spoelstra said the in-and-out nature of the rotration has led to evolving game plans.
– “There’ll be certain times of the season where there just has to be a lot more communication about it, and that’s where we’ve been the last 10 days or so,” he said. “And the good thing is the guys are starting to get healthier and we even have more guys available for this game.”
– With Butler out and Martin shifted to small forward, it made it three consecutive games with a big-big opening power rotation of Jovic and Adebayo.
– Spoelstra said Jovic is similar enough to Martin to ease the rotation.
– “They play a pretty similar role offensively, so it hasn’t been a big adjustment,” he said. “And Niko’s skill set I think can fit with a lot of different lineups. He tends to make other guys better. Once you realize on a basketball court who can pass, who’s a willing passer, who can get you easy baskets, you don’t even need to coach and people all of a sudden become great cutters because they’re motivated to get a score and he has a great feel for that.”
– Spoelstra said the growth with Jovic has been tangible.
– “What I saw is he’s gotten a lot better since summer league and he’s gotten a lot better since training camp,” Spoelstra said. “It’s been pretty diligent work to get to this point.”
– Spoelstra also spoke pregame about Lowry’s defense.
– “I still think he’s one of the most underrated defenders, one of the most underrated versatile 6-foot defenders in this league,” he said. “He can literally guard big as well as he can guard guards.”
– This marks as the third of eight occurrences this season the Heat play the same opponent in consecutive games, with six of those coming in Miami. They previously did so twice this season, splitting the two games against Toronto and then winning both games against Charlotte.
– Maluma was among those in the crowd.
– Odell Beckham Jr. also was back in the crowd.
– As was Sandy Alcántara.