Max Strus took the direct flight with the Miami Heat to Milwaukee for Sunday’s playoff opener against the Bucks at the Fiserv Forum.
But you could hardly blame the fourth-year wing if he had planned a stop in Secaucus, NJ, home of the NBA’s Replay Center.
Or at least stopped at a shoe store to perhaps look at a size small of sneakers.
For the second time in as many postseasons, Strus insaw a successful 3-pointer retroactively rescinded by the NBA Replay Center for apparently having part of his foot on the sidelines.
Last season, the stakes were considerably higher when a 3-pointer by Strus was called off long after the fact for the same reason during the Heat’s Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics.
Unlike the 2022 playoffs, when there was a considerable delay before the decision on the Strus 3-pointer was recalculated on the scoreboard, Friday’s action was relatively quick, due to what has been dubbed the Strus Rule, an off-season NBA adjustment that requires a quicker resolution. and announcement
“I don’t know what the problem is,” Strus said of the smile after his latest minus-3. “If I did something wrong in the NBA offices, I’m sorry. But yeah, I don’t understand. Whatever. Thank God we won.”
For coach Erik Spoelstra, it was deja ew.
“Everybody said it was exactly the same thing,” he said, adding with a smile from Friday’s review: “That repetition is wrong.”
Spoelstra paused, then added, “They should have given us that solo for last year.”
As it was, Strus was worried about other angers, considering his 31 points on Friday night eliminated his hometown Bulls.
“It’s probably not going to turn out well,” he said, as he prepared for this series just north of where he grew up. “I just hope that when I come back this summer, I don’t have any problems. But I think it should be fine. I think I have some fans who have my back.”
Amid an uneven season for Strus, Spoelstra said Friday’s break was a deserved reward.
“Like a lot of our guys,” Spoelstra said, “he has that grit and that perseverance. His routine never changes, in terms of starting his shooting training. Whether we’re on the road, he always meets us there, he gets into his routine before we get there. After practice, before practice, before games, he stays consistent all the time.
“And that’s what you can commit to, having no guarantee of any kind of results. But if you keep pushing yourself, stay with your process, eventually the floodgates can open, particularly if you just stay the course and have that kind of perseverance and determination.”
Strus, 27, will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
“You’re very happy for guys like Max, when they have to go through a lot of different things during an NBA season,” said Spoelstra, with Strus starting and playing off the bench this season, having played important and minimal minutes. . “Not everything is roses. But I think he develops a competitive character and I think he’s really grown overall this season.”
The NBA will hold a random drawing on Monday afternoon to break the tie for draft position. The Heat will be part of a three-way draft with the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers (with all three finishing at 44-38) for the No. 18, 19 and 20 picks in the June 22 NBA draft.
The Heat have their own first-round pick in this year’s draft. The draft order for first-round picks between the Heat, Clippers and Warriors, once determined, will be reversed for the second-round order, but the Heat have already dealt their 2023 second-round picks.
Had the Heat lost Friday’s inning game against the Bulls, they would have been the No. 14 seed in the May 16 Lottery NBA draft.
back at it
Though ineligible for the playoffs because he has a two-way contract, undrafted rookie forward Jamal Cain made the most of the opportunity to travel with the Heat for the postseason by training Saturday at Marquette University, where he played from 2017-21. , before his final college season at Oakland University.
Undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson, the Heat’s other two-way player, also made the trip, as did rookie forward Nikola Jovic, who remains sidelined with back spasms.