Heat get back to their ensemble best – The Denver Post


Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 112-109 victory over the Toronto Raptors:

– This wasn’t about any singular star for Erik Spoelstra’s team.

– Which is exactly what Erik Spoelstra’s team has to be about.

– Because working the offense for Tyler Herro’s isolation game did the offense no favors the first two games.

– Nor did the lack of ball movement.

– Last season, the great unknown of who would be the Heat’s best player on any given night is what pushed them to the top of the Eastern Conference.

– This was a game that felt like that again.

– It was something from so many.

– From Kyle Lowry finding his range.

– To Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin attacking.

– To Max Strus adding a needed boost off the bench.

– And to Herro still scoring.

– Who knows, maybe the defense will turn equally cohesive.

– And the Heat will be able to close something like this out with far less drama.

– Whew.

– This time the Heat did not force the issue on offense.

– It flowed.

– Yes, the Raptors had to travel overnight from Brooklyn.

– So expect more of a fight in Monday night’s rematch.

– When Fred VanVleet won’t stand scoreless with four fouls at halftime, and five within the first 20 seconds of the second half.

– For now, you take the needed W and move on.

– The opening two losses did not shake Spoelstra from the starting lineup of Bam Adebayo, Martin, Butler, Herro and Lowry.

– The Raptors countered with a first five of VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam.

– This time Adebayo’s first foul came 1:17 in, after a foul-filled night Friday.

– During that same break, Gabe Vincent had to enter after Lowry required treatment for a facial laceration.

– Vincent immediately drained a 3-point on his first attempt.

– And followed with an assist on a Herro 3-pointer.

– He then was subbed back out in favor of Lowry with 8:57 left in the first.

– With Lowry converting a 3-pointer on his next attempt.

– Dewayne Dedmon then followed as the Heat’s first true substitute.

– With Strus following and then Duncan Robinson making it four deep off the bench.

– Butler’s seventh basket moved him past P.J. Brown for 21st on the Heat all-time list.

– Strus’ 14th point was the 1,000th of his career.

– In many ways the Raptors mirror the Heat’s switch-everything defensive precepts.

– “The schematics are not as unusual as they used to be,” Spoelstra said of the defensive approach. “There’s a lot of teams that switch, at least one through four. However, their personnel is much different and the way they play is much different than most teams.”:

– Spoelstra said the approach of Raptors coach Nick Nurse can be uniquely unique.

– “I’ve seen some of their lineups where they’re playing four fours, three fives, however you want to classify it,” Spoelstra said, “There are a lot of different lineups they’ll have and different ways of doing things. But the most important thing is the force that they play with, in transition, attacking in isos and open court, one on one. And then they’re one of the very best offensive-rebounding teams in the league.”

– Spoelstra added, “Defensively, regardless of how they do it, whatever the scheme is, they’re really disruptive. They can force a lot of turnovers, get a lot of deflections.”

– Spoelstra offered a pregame vote of confidence when asked by a member of the Toronto media about Lowry.

– “He looks great,” Spoelstra said. “And it’s a credit to the work that he put in this summer. It was a real offseason, not only for him, but for all of our guys, that we haven’t had for a couple of years. So he was able to put in the work. He had a really good training camp and we’ll build from here.”



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