Observations and other notes of interest from Monday night’s 113-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers:
— If you didn’t know better, or perhaps if you did, it appears few beyond the Heat are prioritizing the No. 1 seed in the East.
— And based on Monday night, perhaps even not the Heat.
— Shortly after it was announced that James Harden would join Joel Embiid as a 76ers spectator for Monday night’s game, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers spoke of the true priority of the first round.
— Getting a top-four seed in the East.
— Not necessarily at No. 1 . . . or No. 2 . . . or No. 3.
— Just, as Rivers said, at least securing homecourt advantage in the first round.
— Potentially only in the first round.
— That’s where the 2021-22 East stands.
— With so many traps that there does not appear to be a comfortable seed.
— Or any spot less safe than another.
— So the Heat seemingly will be left to finish the job with No. 1.
— Then with a keen eye on the play-in round that will produce Nos. 7-8 in the East.
— Because there is no banner for a top seed in the East.
— Only for winning the conference in the playoffs.
— With that story two months from being written.
— Seemingly no matter how the seeds shake out.
— That made Monday night a night that mattered.
— And didn’t matter.
— Jimmy Butler was back in the Heat starting lineup, after sitting out Friday night’s home victory over the Thunder.
— Butler had last played in last Tuesday’s victory over the Pistons, when he went out in the first half with a sprained right ankle.
— That got the Heat back to their preferred starting lineup of Butler, Bam Adebayo, P.J. Tucker, Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry.
— Tyler Herro then entered with 5:31 left in the opening period, after Lowry was called for his second foul, on a night the Heat was without Gabe Vincent due to a toe contusion.
— The Heat also were without Kyle Guy, who remains with G League Sioux Falls.
— Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Markieff Morris followed together as Erik Spoelstra’s next three subs.
— With Morris cast at center.
— The game was Strus’ 100th regular-season appearance.
— Herro’s ninth point moved him past Dwyane Wade’s Heat single-season record for bench points, of 1,028 in 2018-19.
— Herro’s first defensive rebound was the 700th of his career.
— Herro’s second basket moved him past Tyler Johnson for 25th on the Heat all-time list.
— Herro’s first 3-point attempt moved him past LeBron James for 13th on the Heat all-time list.
— Butler’s sixth made shot moved him past Jamal Mashburn for 23rd on the Heat all-time list.
— Spoelstra went in unconcerned about the 76ers being shorthanded, without Embiid and Harden.
— “We’re at the end, where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said of the regular season drawing to a close April 10. “We have some things that we want to work on.”
— He added, “We do have some new things that we’re trying to look at. And we’re trying to get ready for this postseason. We’re using every one of these days as an opportunity to get better.”
— And, “We want to gear up. We want to get ready. It’s going to be that time before we know it.”
— The playoffs open April 16.
— Of Morris’ ongoing return from a 58-game absence due to whiplash, Spoelstra said, “I just think if he’s out there, he can complement a lot of the guys that have gained a lot of confidence this season while he was out and have really taken big steps forward, particularly some of our young guys. And I think he complements them really well.”
— Spoelstra again took time to address the NCAA Tournament success of the University of Miami.
— “We all feel connected with that, that we’re slowly turning the 305 and South Florida into a basketball town, and the Hurricanes are a part of that,” he said.
— Of 72-year-old Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga, Spoelstra said, “He’s as young as he’s ever been.”
Source: Berkshire mont