Observations and other notes of interest from Sunday’s 130-117 NBA playoff victory over the Milwaukee Bucks:
– The season started with the Heat touting their depth.
– Then that depth proved illusory.
– Victor Oladipo was benched.
– Duncan Robinson was put into the deep freeze.
– And Dewayne Dedmon was traded.
– Yes, Kevin Love and Cody Zeller were added at the buyout deadline to bolster the power rotation.
– And, yes, Love helped, a lot, Sunday.
– But the perimeter rotation largely proved thin.
– Now that becomes an even bigger problem, with Tyler Herro out with a broken hand.
– Robinson started Sunday’s second half.
– Oladipo remained in waiting.
– To put into perspective what Oladipo and Robinson didn’t expect to be doing Sunday, both of them participated in an aggressive three-on-three scrimmage pregame.
– Answers were going to be hard enough in this series.
– Now new ones will have to be found.
– More than just give Jimmy Butler the ball and get out of the way.
– So maybe Kyle Lowry’s time has come?
– We shall see.
– Even against the Bucks’ height and length, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra elected to remain with his smallish five first of Bam Adevbayo, Max Strus, Butler, Herro and Gabe Vincent.
– Vincent had been listed as questionable going in due to the hip pointer he aggravated during the play-in round.
– With the start, Butler tied Lowry for 75th on the NBA all-time playoff starts list. With the appearance, he tied Marc Gasol for 74th on the NBA all-time playoff games list.
– Also, with the appearance, Butler tied Ray Allen for 13th on the Heat all-time playoff games list.
– The Bucks opened with a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez.
– With Vincent called for his second foul with 7:53 left in the opening period, Caleb Martin played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– Lowry then followed.
– And then Love.
– For the eight-deep core.
– One that remained intact until Robinson entered for the start of the second half.
– It was an unconventional approach both ways at the outset.
– The Heat opened with 6-foot-5 Strus on 7-foot-1 Lopez, so 6-9 Adebayo could open defensively against 6-11 Antetokounmpo.
– On the other end, the Bucks opted to ease the early defensive burden on Antetokounmpo by having him defend 6-3 Vincent, with 6-5 Holiday the initial defender on 6-7 Butler. Antetokounmpo had opened as Milwaukee’s primary defender against Butler in the 2021 playoffs.
– The Heat later went bigger at the end of the opening period, with 6-8 Love playing alongside Adebayo.
– Any semblance of a preferred rotation was then lost, with Vincent, Adebayo, Strus, Martin, Love and Lowry all called for two early fouls.
– With the teams having met in three of the past four postseasons, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said there was ample familiarity.
– “I think they know us well,” he said. “We know them well. I don’t think anybody is surprising anybody today.”
– Spoelstra downplayed the quick turnaround from Friday night’s play-in victory over the Bulls in Miami to Sunday afternoon’s game.
– “I don’t know,” he said. “In many ways, I think this is better. You have to be able to handle a lot of different things in the playoffs. But we understand what Milwaukee has done, we have great respect for them. And we’re just coming off of two really competitive games and we want to get to it.”
– Spoelstra added, “We’re competitors; we want to play. You almost get conditioned to play every 48 hours. And then the head coach and coaching staff can’t get in the way and over inundate everybody in the minds with too much. So this was pretty much simplicity, clarity and competition.”
– So basically full speed ahead.
– “Sometimes you have a week off, you don’t know who you’re playing. So you’re just kind of working out and drilling. Each situation is different,” Spoelstra said. “This was clarity. We had a prep day [Saturday], walk through today and everybody is just looking forward to tipping this thing off.”
– Spoelstra notes now everything changes.
– “The playoffs are different than the regular season,” Spoelstra said. “So even if everybody was healthy, that might not necessarily totally translate to the playoffs.”
– Still, Spoelstra said there was study.
– “But yeah, we have to be responsible and go through the film and also from what they did recently in the last few weeks since they’ve started to find a little bit of their health, as well,” Spoelstra said. “But this will be about competition more than strategy or Xs and Os and all those things.”
– Butler’s second free throw moved him past Isiah Thomas for 50th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s fourth assist moved him past Allen Iverson for 74th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s second steal moved him ahead of Dan Majerle for 47th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s sixth shot moved him past Bob McAdoo for 88th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s 24th point moved him into 64th place on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Vincent’s second assist moved him past Damon Jones for 20th on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Herro’s second 3-point attempt moved him past Shane Battier for sixth on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Herro’s first blocked shot tied Lamar Odom for 23rd on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Love’s second 3-point attempt moved him ahead of Deron Williams for 64th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Herro’s 3-pointer tied him with Ray Allen for seventh on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Love’s second 3-pointer moved him past Clyde Drexler for 53rd on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Love’s fourth defensive rebound moved him past former Heat center Alonzo Mourning for 86th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
Source: Berkshire mont
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