WASHINGTON — Observations and other interesting notes from Friday night’s 107-106 loss to the Washington Wizards:
– Understand, it was only two weeks ago that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was talking about the possibility of sending Nikola Jovic to the G League for game time and season.
– And then the opportunity came in the form of hurting others.
– Now there’s little doubt that at 19 and before graduating from high school, the No. 27 belongs in the June NBA draft.
– On Friday, when almost everyone and everyone was out, there was little choice but to give Jovic time as a starter.
– (Who said at the morning shootout that they still don’t have to come to that pesky online high school graduation to graduate?)
– And for the second game in a row in the absence of Bam Adebayo, Jovic produced.
– Work your way to the foul line like a veteran.
– But if a rotary role, then where?
– Remember that even with Jovic on the pitch, coach Spoelstra had Orlando Robinson alongside him at times.
– And in the end, Robinson was so close the choice because of his bulk.
– If Jovic isn’t a center, can he take over the rotational role from Dewayne Dedmon?
– Or is Dedmon’s muscle needed?
– One option might be Duncan Robinson’s logs, limited as they were.
– Anyway, Sioux Falls may have to wait.
– Although it will probably remain South Florida instead of South Dakota.
– The children’s stuff was impressive and encouraging this week.
– On another start for Jovic, Spoelstra said ahead of the game: “He picks things up quickly and also takes pride in what he does. He wants to do it right. He wants to be reliable for his team.”
– To recap, the Heat didn’t have Adebayo, Dedmon, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo, or Omer Yurtseven.
– All dealing with injuries.
– And no Udonis Haslem for personal reasons.
– So . . . the Heat fielded a starting lineup of Jovic, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith, Max Strus and Kyle Lowry.
– Highsmith, considered a rotation candidate during training camp, had not appeared in eight of the last 10 games, largely limited to clean-up duty.
– That left two-way contract players Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson as the only available reserves.
– Strus’ third 3-point attempt put him past Kendrick Nunn for 20th on the all-time heat list.
– With limited options, the Heat opened up in zone defense.
– Though Vincent was sidelined with knee swelling, he was listed as active and in uniform to allow the Heat to meet the league minimum of eight uniforms.
– Vincent exacerbated the swelling in the morning shootaround.
– “His knee hurt a bit after the last game,” said Spoelstra. “I’m sure it’s just the increase in minutes and mode and everything. And you have to treat each player’s situation separately.”
– It was Vincent’s first absence of the season, having played 30 minutes or more in four of the previous five games.
– Spoelstra said it’s mostly about protecting Vincent from himself.
– “He has this feeling, he looks at other guys, ‘Hey, I have to go play,'” Spoelstra said. “But we want to be accountable to every player. We think it’s the best decision for him not to go tonight.”
– Due to the morning shooting, Duncan Robinson, who was listed with a sprained right hand after catching her in a uniform, was also sidelined.
– “It’s just one of those crazy things,” said Spoelstra. “He got his finger caught in a jersey and we’ll just keep treating him and see how he feels.”
– Spoelstra said it was simply a matter of caution to sit out Adebayo for a second straight game with a bruised knee, even if Orlando Robinson is the only center available.
– “Bam really wants to get out of there,” said Spoelstra, “but we have to take responsibility.”
– Unlike last season, when the Heat were able to add outside players amid COVID with no impact on the roster, luxury tax or salary cap, this season won’t.
– So it wasn’t like the Heat could snap a player from Washington’s G-League affiliate like they did from San Antonio’s G-League team in Austin, Texas last year.
– Spoelstra, of course, went in as you would expect from any coach.
Miami heat source
See what’s hot at the Miami Heat, including game analysis, roster changes and more insider info.
– “No one stops for you,” he said. “The league doesn’t stop. You don’t feel sorry for the league.”
– Dedmon has been officially ruled out due to illness but has been dealing with an ongoing foot problem.
– Oladipo, who is struggling with knee pain and has not yet played this season, shot again before the game.
– Spoelstra was also asked ahead of the game about Yurtseven, who underwent ankle surgery this week.
– “The prospects for him are great as he will be available sometime this season,” said Spoelstra.
– Asked when Yurtseven, who is expected to be absent for at least three months, could be back, Spoelstra said: “We will get to that point when he is available.”
– About the roster shortage, Strus said in the morning shootaround: “You can make a name for yourself here, make a career for yourself. Opportunities like this can open doors. So if it’s not for us, there are 29 other teams watching. If I was a young guy on a two-way or just hadn’t played that much I would consider that a great opportunity.”