Observations and other interesting notes from Friday night’s 102-91 NBA play-in win over the Chicago Bulls:
– This is what should have happened on Tuesday night.
– Take care of business and move on.
– But never easy for the Heat this season.
– So even this was still heartbreaking.
– And something else.
— And, then, instead of No. 2 Boston in the first round and the resumption of a rivalry very fresh in the Celtics’ minds, the No. 1 Bucks, whose last memory of the Heat’s playoffs was sweeping them off the floor. in a 2021 first-round sweep.
– And so the question is can the Heat win?
– Not the series.
– But a game.
– Because the level of play will have to be significantly higher than what the Heat showed on Tuesday against the Hawks or even on Friday against the Bulls.
– Basically, the Heat would have to pitch a perfect game against the Bucks, even with Khris Middleton somewhat ill.
– Especially with Kyle Lowry again now dealing with knee pain.
– But, hey, at least the chance to reconnect with old friends Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder.
So at least that’s it.
– Leaving Dwyane Wade’s final season in 2019, the last time the Heat missed the playoffs.
– As for the draft, now the selection No. 18, No. 19 or No. 20, will be determined in a blind draw with the Clippers and Warriors.
– If the Heat had lost Friday, they would have been the No. 14 seed in the lottery.
– With only a half of one percent chance of being the No. 1 overall pick and a 2.40% chance of moving up to one of the top four picks, in the random but weighted process.
– In the end, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did not deviate from the main lineup he used at the end of the season and the first game.
– That was possible thanks to the fact that Gabe Vincent was able to push through the pointer of his hip.
– So again it was Bam Adebayo, Max Strus, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Vincent as the first five for the Heat.
– The only inactive Heat player was Nikola Jovic, who is dealing with back spasms.
— With Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson ineligible for the postseason on their two-way contracts.
– The Bulls started with Nikola Vucevic, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Patrick Beverley.
– Spoelstra, when asked before the game about adjusting his lineup or rotation in a winner-take-all game scenario, said: “I think the most important thing is that you have to trust who you are. What are your habits? and your identity.”
– He added: “And ultimately it comes down to whose will, whose identity, who can impact the game more consistently than the other team. And then another way of saying that is who makes who blink first.”
– To that end, Spoelstra said as he walked in: “If we can force them into some things, that’s what we’re going to do.”
— And so the power forward wheel again landed in Strus as a starter, after Caleb Martin and then Kevin Love had previously handled that role.
– “Many different factors”, said Spoelstra about what such a decision implies. “Sometimes it’s just where you are at a particular time during the season”
– But added about Friday: “Now, it’s pretty simple, whatever it takes to get a game. And it’s not necessarily a normal rotation. It’s all hands on deck.”
– Lowry played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– Caleb Martin followed him.
– Kevin Love made eight deep.
– Bulls coach Billy Donovan stopped by before the game Friday for his thoughts on Jimmy Butler.
– “I would say watching him, there are three things to me that really stand out,” Donovan said. “He is very, very smart; he has an incredibly high basketball IQ. Then the other part is that he’s a great passer and facilitator and he knows how to manipulate the defense, especially when he’s isolated. And then he has great fouling ability; he comes a lot. He does it in many different ways. And when you take those things, and maybe what stands out the most is that he’s a great competitor. So he can put his fingerprints all over the game, in a lot of different ways.”
– Donovan added: “And, as I said, it’s the IQ, it’s the passing, it’s the manipulation of defenses, taking fouls. And then one guy, he’s going to do a lot of different things on both ends of the court to dictate the outcomes of the games. He takes on big defensive tasks. He will rebound offensively. He has put his body on the line. He is very physical. He will anticipate and enter the passing lanes. He is really smart”.