Observations and other notes of interest from Thursday night’s 99-90 NBA playoff victory over the Philadelphia 76ers:
– It didn’t work at the previous stops because Jimmy Butler was so strong willed.
– It is working for the Heat for that same reason.
– Scoreless second period?
– Only increased the hunger in the third.
– And to do it here, in this building, to close out the 76ers?
– All the more satisfying.
– Against the team that instead opted to invest their future in Ben Simmons.
– Who turned into James Harden.
– Who now is off to Cancun.
– So given his druthers, perhaps the preferred opponent in the Eastern Conference finals would be Milwaukee.
– If only to erase the memory of his first-round horror show in last season’s opening-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks.
– This is why the Heat decided to build the post-Dwyane Wade era around Butler.
– And why that massive extension was extended last summer, one that carries him through his 36th birthday.
– Sure he’s crazy.
– But he’s Heat crazy.
– And, no, this wasn’t about Danny Green being lost in the first quarter.
– Or Joel Embiid being hobbled and masked.
– Better during the regular season.
– Better during the playoffs.
– All the while having to close out the series in the injury absence of Kyle Lowry.
– Gabe Vincent again lined up with the Heat’s starter, which, at this point, almost seems like the expected.
– With the Heat now 6-0 with him as a playoff starter.
– A year removed from a two-way contract.
– Otherwise, the regular starters of Butler, Bam Adebayo, P.J. Tucker and Max Strus.
– And, yes, another night where Adebayo’s play transcended the boxscore.
– With the start, Butler tied P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn for 10th on the Heat all-time playoff list. It also moved him past Rick Mahorn for 84th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– With his appearance, Adebayo tied Tim Hardaway for 15th on the Heat all-time playoff-games list, at 39.
– Dewayne Dedmon played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– Then Tyler Herro.
– Followed by Victor Oladipo.
– And then Caleb Martin.
– With Duncan Robinson entering at the start of the second period to make it 10 deep.
– After Adebayo was called for his second foul early in the second period, the Heat went with an all-reserve unit of Dedmon, Martin, Robinson, Herro and Oladipo.
– Robinson’s run was limited.
– With Erik Spoelstra not daring using him defensively against James Harden.
– Butler’s 17th point moved him past Mark Aguirre for 85th on the NBA all-time playoff scoring list, with his 22nd moving him past Joe Dumars for 84th.
– Butler’s first 3-pointer moved him past Toni Kukoc for 85th on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Butler’s second free throw moved him past Allen Iverson for 57th on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Butler’s third defensive rebound was the 400th of his playoff career.
– Butler’s fourth free throw attempt moved him past Carmelo Anthony and Ray Allen for 62nd on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– With his first steal, Herro tied Josh Richardson, Joel Anthony and Shaquille O’Neal for 25th on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Strus’ third 3-pointer moved him past Jason Williams for 23rd on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Herro’s second rebound moved him past Jamal Mashburn for 14th on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Tucker’s second 3-point attempt moved him past Michael Cooper and Toni Kukoc for 79th on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Adebayo’s second steal moved him past Alonzo Mourning for 10th on the all-time Heat playoff list.
– Spoelstra spoke at the morning shootaround about the unique traps and double-teams that Herro faced against the 76ers.
– “That’s one of the discussions I had with him on the playoffs,” Spoelstra said. “One game doesn’t necessarily lead to the next game. You just have to find a way to put your imprint to be able to help the team win. And he’s been finding ways to do that. It might not be in the exact ways that everybody wants to see.”
– Spoelstra added, “I think all of his experiences now are just really helping him understand what it takes to impact winning in the playoffs.”
– Spoelstra on playoff Butler, “Jimmy’s always been this for us in the playoffs, whatever is needed, and it might be different game to game.”
– Spoelstra made clear pregame that the series, in his view, never was about Adebayo vs. Joel Embiid, in one-on-one terms.
– “He’s certainly not getting caught up on a one-on-one narrative about it,” he said.
– Herro said he appreciated the challenge.
– “Getting repetitions, I think that’s the biggest thing, just seeing myself fight through the double-teams and blitzes and things like that,” he said.
– Thursday marked the third consecutive season the 76ers stood down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In the previous two cases, they won Game 6 and then lost in Game 7.
– The game was preceded by a moment of silence for the passing of NBA legend Bob Lanier.
Source: Berkshire mont