Observations and other interesting notes from Saturday night’s 109-103 NBA playoff win over the Boston Celtics:
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra rarely shows his hand before a game.
– Any hand. Any game.
– Saturday morning was different.
– With Bam Adebayo averaging a measly eight points two games into this series, on an average of five shots, he knew more needed to be done.
– And that Adebayo needed to do more.
– “We want him to be more involved,” Spoelstra said before noon at TD Garden. “And I have to do a better job of that, making sure he’s involved, engaged, giving us triggers.”
– Spoelstra paused, as if to clarify that he was not talking about handing over the keys to Adebayo.,
– “It may not necessarily be what everyone thinks it is,” he said. “But he is a very important part of our attack and our operation.”
– So they treated him as such.
– And Adebayo treated himself as such.
– “I think we can put him in places where he can assert himself about the way he has been all season,” Spoelstra said.
– That mission was accomplished in the opening minutes, Adebayo down to a series-high 10 points, with 6:23 remaining in the opening period.
– Now all it takes is for Adebayo to start over.
– Because with Jimmy Butler’s right knee inflamed again, there may be no other choice.
– Even with Kyle Lowry back.
– Even with Victor Oladipo available.
– The twists follow one another.
– But at least Saturday night’s Heat unraveled Adebayo.
– With Lowry (hamstring) and PJ Tucker (knee) available, the Heat returned to their main starting lineup, supplemented by Butler, Adebayo and Max Strus.
–With their departures, Butler and Lowry both tied Terry Porter for 79th on the NBA’s all-time playoff list, moving them ahead of Moses Malone and Dennis Rodman for 80th.
–With Spoelstra aware of Lowry’s minutes, former starting point guard Gabe Vincent was the first reserve on the Heat’s bench.
– Dewayne Dedmon followed, then Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin together.
– Then, briefly, Duncan Robinson.
– And finally Oladipo out of necessity.
— Butler’s first point moved him past Rick Barry for 79th on the NBA’s all-time playoff list.
— Butler’s third point moved him past Cliff Hagan for 78th on the NBA’s all-time playoff list.
– Adebayo’s 12th point moved him past Tim Hardaway for 10th on the all-time playoff list.
– Lowry’s first 3-pointer moved him past JJ Redick for 27th on the NBA’s all-time playoff list and tied him with Rasheed Wallace for 26th.
– Lowry’s first steal moved him ahead of Tony Allen, Jamaal Wilkes and Terry Porter for 62nd on the NBA’s all-time playoff list.
– Strus’ second 3-pointer moved him past Damon Jones for 20th on the all-time playoff slate.
– Spoelstra stressed that he knows that if his sick players can play, they will.
– “We have a dressing room full of these kind of guys,” he said. “There have been so many stories in this league about load management, guys getting rest, guys sitting still for better or for worse. We don’t have guys wired like that.
– Celtics coach Ime Udoka has gone in search of a good start to inspire the home crowd.
– “I would say in general our starts sometimes weren’t the best in the Milwaukee series, even Brooklyn to some degree early on,” Udoka said before the game. “To engage the crowd, you want to have good starts.”
– He added: “I don’t think we focus as much on home or on the road as some other teams maybe. We’ve been really good on the road at times, as you saw in the Milwaukee series. And so for us, it’s neither here nor there.
– Udoka’s pregame also discussed guard Marcus Smart’s emotional approach to his Celtics teammates.
– “I’ve always said that guys are receptive to constructive criticism and have the freedom to discuss, debate and retaliate if they have something to say,” he said. “So an open line of communication from all of us I think has been beneficial. Feelings are not hurt.
– He added, “Guys who have been together for a while can get along and respond in the right way. And so Marcus is a guy who plays with his emotions on his sleeve, says what sometimes comes to mind. I don’t think guys are responsive to delivery. It’s more what is said.
– Spoelstra also addressed Smart’s fire, “You have to respect Marcus as a competitor more than anything.”