The outside question this season has been whether the Miami Heat are big enough to bounce back. The inside story, according to trainer Erik Spoelstra, is whether they’re small enough to get the job done.
With his team starting with the 6-foot-5 Caleb Martin at power forward, Spoelstra said goal-scoring remains a consistent contribution from his wings on the backboards.
“I just like it when everyone is actively involved,” Spoelstra said, as the Heat capped off their three-game road trip Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. “I love it when our perimeters get 20+ rebounds. That is usually a good thing. Usually it means we’re getting saves and those guys are putting in the full-court effort.”
The trend has been somewhat positive in that sense. Going into Friday night, Jimmy Butler was averaging 6.3 per game, Tyler Herro 5.9, Kyle Lowry 4.5, Max Strus 3.6, Victor Oladipo 3.5 and Gabe Vincent 2.3. Center Bam Adebayo led the team with 10.1.
“I think for the most part we have recovered well,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve had some costly lessons where we haven’t recovered well, and it’s turned into losses. But our guys have taken it seriously. They understand how important it is to finish our defense.
“We don’t want to put everything in Bam’s hands. He does so many things for us defensively, all different schemes and he’s accepting the biggest challenges.”
During the Heat’s 13-6 run on Friday night, there has been a steady rise in the NBA’s rebounding ranks, even while dealing with the absence of Martin and two-way rookie Orlando Robinson as the primary backup. from Adebayo. Especially since it has not been left solely in the hands of Adebayo.
“We don’t want to leave it to him and expect him to do everything for us defensively,” Spoelstra said. “He already has a lot on his shoulders. Sometimes we’re on switches, we’re less on it, so we can stay in melee. But it is an expectation that everyone should follow and be an active participant. It is very important for us to finish our defense.”
Additionally, while the Heat continue to prioritize covering the backcourt from missed shots, there has also been more freedom of late to attack the offensive glass.
“Everything works together,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not necessarily that we’re saying crash all the guys. But it’s the details of being in the right position. And also that aggressiveness. Many times the drives, the attacks lead to offensive rebounds. We are at our best offensive level when we are aggressive.
“Everything has to go hand in hand. But when I really put pressure on the rim, I think a lot of good things happen to us. And offensive rebounding is one of those.”
Forward Jamal Cain rejoined the Heat on Friday in Dallas after spending two games with the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, as part of his two-way contract.
Cain made two appearances for Skyforce earlier this week, totaling 63 points and 23 rebounds.
The only players listed for the Heat on Friday night were Omer Yurtseven (ankle surgery), Duncan Robinson (finger surgery) and Nikola Jovic (back stress reaction), and all three stayed behind in Miami for the three game trip. . .
Orlando Robinson, the Heat’s other two-way player, has remained with the Heat since signing his two-way contract on Dec. 11, thriving in his role behind Adebayo.
“I think he’s just been listening and doing everything the coaches and players have asked him to do,” Lowry said of the undrafted big man out of Fresno State. “He’s been very encouraging for a guy like that. He’s just finding a way to just be effective, and that’s what you want from a young guy, he’s just finding a way to be effective on the court.”