Observations and other notes of interest from Monday night’s 98-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors:
– For all the discussion about depth, the Heat are about Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry.
– Anything beyond that is a welcomed contribution, but not necessarily expected.
– But with that level of concentrated talent, it requires four play.
– Adebayo was active and aggressive Monday night, even when off with his shot. Check.
– Herro was in attack mode on offense and on the glass. Check.
– Butler did as needed, as almost always. Check.
– So, again, it comes down to Lowry.
– And if there was/is more there, it would simplify the equation.
– Instead, this first week of the season has been quite the grind.
– Especially when watching a player dealt for Lowry, Precious Achiuwa, dominate on the boards for the Raptors, reaching a career high in rebounds.
– Adebayo, Herro and Butler aren’t a Big Three.
– Not in today’s era of concentrated power.
– It is why the Heat went all in with Lowry to the tune of $85 million over three years in the 2021 offseason.
– And the cost of Achiuwa.
– Last season a family matter and playoff injury limited the Lowry payoff.
– This season, the contribution has been minimized.
– There will need to be more when the Heat hit the road now for their three-game western swing.
– Otherwise, it could be a road better less traveled.
– This time, Lowry stood 1 of 6 from the field, all on 3-pointers, through three periods, with just one assist.
– With Caleb Martin suspended for his Saturday fracas, the Heat moved Max Strus into the starting lineup.
– Adebayo, Butler, Herro and Lowry again rounded out the first five.
– Monday’s starting five had played eight previous minutes together this season.
– By rule, Martin and Nikola Jovic, who was suspended for coming off the bench during Saturday’s incident, both had to be on the active roster, in effect to further penalize the Heat.
– The Heat remained without sidelined Victor Oladipo (knee) and Omer Yurtseven (ankle).
– That had 12 players in uniform, three below the game-night limit.
– Jamal Cain therefore was active for the first time this season, meaning he can be active 49 more game nights on his two-way contract.
– With Scottie Barnes due to the ankle sprain sustained Saturday, the Raptors opened with Fred Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Christian Koloko.
– Duncan Robinson and Dewayne Dedmon entered together midway through the first quarter as the Heat’s first two reserves.
– They were followed by Gabe Vincent.
– With Haywood Highsmith then making it nine deep.
– Herro’s 13th point was the 3,000th of his career.
– Butler’s third free throw moved him past Ed Macauley for 90th on the NBA all-time list.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra went in saying the Heat respected the NBA’s decision to suspend Martin and Jovic in the wake of Saturday’s melee and have moved on.
– “I was expecting it with both of ‘em and we don’t have any issue with how the league viewed it,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a teaching moment, not only for Nikola, but for everybody else.”
– Jokic was suspended for not remaining in the bench area.
– “We just have to sharpen it up,” Spoelstra said. “You’re not expecting that, certainly not in front of our bench. It was unfortunate, but we take the penalties and we move on.”
– Adebayo said the game was particularly meaningful with a weeklong West Coast trip to follow.
– “Going into this road trip, we want to go in with a clear mind, a clear head,” he said.
– Asked about former teammate Achiuwa finding his way with the Raptors, Adebayo said, “Precious has always been one that wanted to learn, was willing to learn. So it’s good that he’s out there, having the opportunity to spread his wings.”
– Of what he has noticed in Achiuwa’s growth, Adebayo said, “”He’s handling in the open court more. He’s talking more now.”
– And yet, Raptors coach Nick Nurse took a contrasting view pregame to the Heat 2020 first-round pick out of Memphis.
– “He’s got an offensive game. He’ll shoot. He’ll get some drives and things like that,” Nurse said.
– And then he got to his point, adding, “I’m probably more concerned with him getting up and down the floor both ways faster, getting on the glass a lot harder, keeping people off the glass a lot harder, and being more of an all-around player. We really need him to be an integral cog in our defensive and rebounding kind of machine. His scoring is great, and we also need that.”
– Logan Paul was among those in the crowd.