Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 111-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers:
— You can survive the absences of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and even Haywood Highsmith when you’re at your best.
– The Heat were not at their best on Friday night.
– Not with 16 turnovers in the first three periods.
— Yes, there will be nights when Jimmy Butler won’t be there.
— When Duncan Robinson can’t make a shot.
—When the defense declines.
— But when you keep it clean, you have a chance in those circumstances.
—The Heat didn’t keep him clean.
— They worked poorly.
– And they paid with their third defeat in their last four home games.
– With Adebayo and Highsmith out again (and Herro still out), the Heat again started Orlando Robinson, Caleb Martin, Butler, Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry.
– The Heat had come in with 14 lineups in their first 21 games.
— This time there are no changes.
– Maybe next time.
– Back available for the Heat was guard RJ Hampton, after being sidelined with knee soreness, but was inactive.
– Coach Erik Spoelstra said the plan is eventually for G League playing minutes.
— “He’s going to stay here for a little while longer, and then we’d like him to go to Sioux Falls and play some games and then we’ll go from there,” Spoelstra said. “But his progress has been really good. He was able to practice with us last week and he worked hard here while we were away.”
— Herro, Adebayo, Highsmith and Dru Smith (knee) were also inactive.
– Kevin Love was the first off the Heat bench, after Orlando Robinson was penalized for a pair of early fouls.
– Josh Richardson and Jaime Jaquez Jr. then followed from the Heat bench.
– With the Heat having the next two days off, Spoelstra kept the rotation at a tight eight.
– That meant no Jamal Cain, Thomas Bryant or Nikola Jovic.
– Friday marked the return of former Heat guard Max Strus, who left in free agency for the Cavaliers.
– Strus was introduced last among Cleveland’s starters, to a warm ovation.
– Spoelstra was asked about the unusual paths Duncan Robinson and Strus took to the Heat as former teammates.
— “You have to be inspired by each of their stories,” said Spoelstra. “That’s so unusual. Let them both take the paths they took. Many young children become discouraged. But if you have a goal and a vision and you’re relentless in your strength, it just goes to show you that crazy things can happen, even if you start out attending a prep school like Duncan did and then move on to D3. Or like Max, D3. And then they both found their way to division one programs and had to come through this league undrafted.”
— But Spoelstra said it wasn’t that the two were equal.
— “They are different players,” said Spoelstra. “I think it’s easy to say they are the same player. They are not. “Everyone brings different things to the table and it was fun to see that dynamic.”
– Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff praised the Heat’s approach before the game.
— “I’m one of the biggest fans,” he said. “I just think it allows you to have sustained success. It allows you to hold people to a standard, whether it’s summer league, practice or a game. There is responsibility and there is a vision that you can constantly attack.”
– He added: “Last year, his ability to reach the final speaks for itself and remains strong. And they have no doubt about it: up, down, championship years, whatever it is, they are the same. And as a sports fan and the son of a coach and now coaching myself, that’s all you want, wanting to be able to go to war, knowing that you can train or play with absolute freedom. Because no matter what others say, or what the outside world says about you, as long as you do things that are right for your environmental culture, you can be the best version of yourself.”