It wasn’t a dress rehearsal, considering there will be a full week of practice before their playoff opener.
And he wasn’t played for seeding, with the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs secured a night earlier.
Friday night was more of a time to create another night of regular season magic at the FTX Arena.
On that score, another mission accomplished, with the Heat pushing to a 113-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, a team playing hard for the top seed position ahead of Sunday’s NBA Season Finals.
“It’s for the fans, man,” center Bam Adebayo said. “We have amazing fans. I can’t wait to see what White Hot [the Heat home playoff theme] looks like.”
What the Heat achieved in their home final provided many reminders of how they got to the top of the East and what might be to come.
There were 24 points from Adebayo, 20 from Jimmy Butler, 16 from Kyle Lowry and 15 from Tyler Herro, whose 3-pointer with 1:27 was crucial.
The Heat, now on a season-best six-game winning streak, will wrap up their regular season Sunday at the Amway Center against the Orlando Magic, with coach Erik Spoelstra expected to hold their regulars.
Trae Young led the Hawks with 35 points, with teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic adding 25.
Five degrees of heat from Friday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat led 24-22 at the end of the first period, trailed 61-56 at halftime, then took a 91-87 lead in the fourth.
From there, the Hawks took a 103-97 lead with 5:18 left.
But with 1:44 to go, a Herro 3-pointer that blasted off the front edge put the Heat up 109-107.
A young floater would tie it 109-109 with 1:27 remaining, Adebayo rushing for a dunk with 27.1 seconds remaining for a 111-109 Heat lead.
A missed 3-point attempt from the Hawks later, Herro got to the line with 5.7 seconds left, draining the two for a four-point lead, effectively ending the line.
2. Focus on the playoffs: As the Brooklyn Nets hold on to defeat the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 118-107 on Friday night, they moved the Nets to No. 7 in the East, needing only a victory Sunday over the visiting Indiana Pacers to clinch the No. 7 seed.
The No. 7 seed hosts the No. 8 seed in the first round of the qualifying tournament on Tuesday night, with the winner of that game earning the No. 7 seed and leaving the Heat side of the Eastern Conference bracket of the Heat.
The Heat will face the No. 8 seed, which won’t be determined until next Friday, in a best-of-seven series that opens a week from Sunday at FTX Arena.
If the Nets exited the qualifying round at No. 7, the Heat’s first-round playoff opponent would be the Hawks, Cavaliers or Charlotte Hornets.
3. Attrition problem: With the Heat opting to play with their primary rotation, they ended up losing a member of their power rotation for the second time in as many games.
Three nights after power forward PJ Tucker was lost with a strained right calf in Tuesday night’s home win over the Hornets, backup center Dewayne Dedmon limped to the locker room with 8:50 left. do, after going to court during a defensive scramble.
Dedmon had been questionable coming in, with a sprained right ankle.
The Heat were already without third-string center Omer Yurtseven, due to a non-COVID stomach illness.
4. Work well: If this was an attempt by the Heat to send a message to Young ahead of a possible playoff game, that message was not fully received.
After scoring six points in the first quarter, Young broke in for 17 in the second period, ending the first half 9 of 11 from the field, including 6 of 6 in the second period.
It was the 29th time this NBA-leading season that Young had scored 20 or more goals in one half.
The Heat started with Caleb Martin defending Young, but changed everything when they didn’t bring in a second defenseman.
Young closed 12 of 23 from the field, but only 3 of 11 on 3-pointers. He had eight assists, but also seven turnovers.
5. With meaning: Spoelstra said it was important to appreciate winning the No. 1 seed, which the Heat clinched on Thursday.
“It means something,” he said. “I think you can derive gratitude from that and the gratification of a meaningful regular season. That’s not all, but it’s definitely something. And I think it’s always good to shoot for something in this league and to compete for something.
Spoelstra said it all comes down to perspective.
“It wasn’t something we talked about every day,” he said, “but we talked about learning how to win, and doing it with no excuses, and doing it with a lot of different things. coming our way this year, and adversity and guys in and out of training.