Observations and other interesting notes from Friday night’s 113-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks:
–With the Heat not opening the playoffs until April 17, coach Erik Spoelstra said the decision was made earlier in the day to go with those available in the primary rotation.
– “It’s a bit unusual because of the play-ins, that we’ll have a bit more free time,” Spoelstra said of the extra round of the playoffs next week for the No. 7-10 seeds. . “And everyone wanted to compete tonight.”
– Spoelstra added: “We won’t play our first playoff game until the 17th. It’s an opportunity to continue to be competitive and stay sharp.
– Expect a much different approach for Sunday’s regular season finale in Orlando.
– And by the way, expect plenty of extra space for the few people traveling on Saturday’s flight.
– For many of the Heat’s leading men, the regular season effectively ended with Friday’s game.
– But with this one played out for good, there were Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Max Strus in the starting lineup.
– Caleb Martin also started, in place of PJ Tucker, who came off with the calf strain suffered in Tuesday’s win over the Hornets.
– Martin was one of five players who were listed as doubtful shortly before the match started. All five were cleared to play: Martin, Dewayne Dedmon, Haywood Highsmith, Markieff Morris and Gabe Vincent.
“Another sign the Heat went there.
– Omer Yurtseven was absent from the squad due to a non-COVID stomach illness.
– Tyler Herro once again played as the sixth man.
– With Dedmon following in his typical role as the first big man on the bench.
– Vincent then came in when Lowry was called for his second foul with 2:54 left in the opening period.
– This is also when Duncan Robinson came in, to go nine deep for Spoelstra.
— So no Markieff Morris or Victor Oladipo in the primary rotation.
‘They can certainly have their chance on Sunday, if they wish.
— But still seem, at best, to set themselves up as playoff specialists.
– Butler’s third free throw attempt moved him past Goran Dragic for 12th on the Heat’s all-time list.
– Lowry’s first steal saw him pass Rickey Green for 69th on the NBA’s all-time list.
– Robinson’s fourth point moved him past Tyler Johnson for 25th on the Heat’s all-time list.
– With his eighth point, the Hawks’ Trae Young reached 2,100 points for the season, becoming one of four players in franchise history to reach that mark in one season (Pete Maravich, Bob Pettit and Dominique Wilkins) .
–Hawks coach Nate McMillan has downplayed the Heat largely with regulars.
“I really didn’t think it mattered,” he said. “This team is going to play a certain way no matter who is out there on the pitch. They’re going to bring it. They’re going to be physical defensively. They’re going to play their game.”
— He added, “There’s a system in place there, so it really doesn’t matter, the five guys on the floor for them. They will play the same way.
– McMillan basically offered a pre-game scouting report on the Heat, a team the Hawks could meet in the first round.
“They force turnovers with their pressure,” he said. “They do a good job of switching with Bam being able to keep one through five. They must therefore be defended. Get ball movement. Be prepared for their changing defenses. They will change from a press to a zone.
– Herro and Adebayo addressed the crowd ahead of the regular season final home game, with Adebayo saying, “We appreciate you every night for showing up and being loud. Let’s get ready for the playoffs. Go warm up.
– The Heat opened the game with a pregame delay warning for too many hand slaps, not enough being ready.