Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 126-123 victory over the Utah Jazz:
– We know what Tyler Herro can be.
– He showed as much Saturday night with his buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer.
– But who truly are the Heat at the turn of the calendar?
– Who knows?
– And we won’t know until the projected starting lineup of Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, Herro and Kyle Lowry play more than 12 games together.
– And even then, it might not be the preferred answer, with the Heat 5-7 when opening with those five.
– This should be the portion of the calendar when you tweak.
– Instead, the Heat still have to learn.
– Including learning whether the lineup and rotation work.
– And whether one game above .500, as good as it’s gotten this season, is all but the ceiling.
– So 19-18 on Jan. 1 it is.
– So you take it, appreciate Herro’s heroics, and move on.
– With Butler and Martin out, the Heat unveiled their 16th starting lineup in their 37 games.
– That had Max Strus, the projected preseason sixth man, making his 20th start in his 35 appearances.
– It also had Haywood Highsmith making a second consecutive start at power forward.
– The other starters were Adebayo, Herro and Lowry.
– To his credit, Lowry went both ends of the back-to-back set that opened Friday in Denver, at age 36.
– Going against 35-year-old Mike Conley Jr., who also was playing for the second consecutive night.
– Herro drew a flagrant foul on a 3-point attempt for the second consecutive night, after doing it Friday in Denver during the fourth quarter.
– Victor Oladipo and Orlando Robinson entered together as the Heat’s first substitution.
– It arguably was Oladipo’s best game of the season.
– Jamal Cain then entered as third reserve.
– With Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson then making it 10 deep.
– Leaving Udonis Haslem as the lone available Heat player not to enter in the first period.
– The game marked the sixth time in the Heat’s 35 seasons they played on New Year’s Eve, including last season when they won 120-110 in Houston with a COVID-depleted roster.
– The Heat went into Saturday 3-2 all-time on New Year’s Eve, with all five games on the road, playing at Indiana twice and once apiece at Houston, Orlando and San Antonio.
– The game was Highsmith’s 50th NBA regular-season appearance and Vincent’s 150th appearance.
– With the appearance, Duncan Robinson tied James Jones for 23rd on the Heat all-time regular-season games list.
– Herro in the second period passed Keith Askins for 22nd on the Heat’s all-time defensive-rebounds list.
– Adebayo’s first blocked shot tied Chris Bosh for seventh place on the all-time Heat list.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he developed a greater appreciation for Jazz coach Will Hardy while working alongside Hardy with Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
– He said Hardy’s time as a Spurs assistant under Greg Popovich was similar to Spoelstra’s time under Pat Riley.
– “I’ve known Will for a little while,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve had a similar path, being in the video room. And if you can survive the video room under Pop or Pat Riley, it’s like a Master’s degree, if not more, a doctorate degree in basketball leadership, human-personality management, all of the above.”
– Spoelstra also said he is not surprised by this breakout season by Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen.
– “I would say he had about a year and a half in Chicago that probably was a little bit aberrational,” Spoelstra said of struggles by Markkanen. “Everything else, his rookie was outstanding, last year he had a major role on a playoff team [in Cleveland]. And you could see that he was developing into a two-way player, who could really put a lot of pressure on you with his size and his skill.”
– Spoelstra said that even with Utah’s trades of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell he has seen a team that has coalesced.
– “Whatever sprinkling of that formula that they put in so far has worked,” he said. “They’ve looked like a very connected group that’s having fun playing and competing for each other.”
– As for both teams entering at .500, Spoelstra said, “I think you’re seeing great parity, which is great. The competition is great. Every single night you’re going to get tested. And that’s really what you hope for.”
– Marcus Garrett is back from his wrist surgery and playing Saturday night for the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He is available to be signed by any NBA team.
–Nikola Jovic closed 2 of 8 from the field, including 0 for 5 on 3s, for four points, with three rebounds in 25:36 Saturday night for Heat’s G League team in a loss. Former Heat two-way player Dru Smith scored 28 points (5 of 11 on 3s).