NEW YORK – Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 100-98 loss to the New York Knicks:
– This is how the reality of the Heat has changed:
– They missed Duncan Robinson in this one.
– On a night when the Knicks continued to attack, what the Heat needed was one more three-point dagger.
– The type of dagger that a rejuvenated Duncan Robinson has been providing.
– And then came the thumb injury that kept him out Friday night.
– And then the Heat shot 3 of 21 in the fourth quarter.
– Yes, 3 of 21, including 1 of 8 in triples.
– No, Cole Swider was not a replacement.
– Or an answer.
– It got to the point where Jimmy Butler was the best 3-point threat.
– Which says a lot.
– So, a loss in what can still be a winning trip with a win on Saturday in Brooklyn.
– And a reminder of how much Duncan Robinson has come to mean.
– Especially this season.
– Especially with Tyler Herro still out.
– The lineup wheel this time fell on Josh Richardson, who replaced the sidelined Robinson.
– The Heat’s other four starters remained Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Haywood Highsmith and Kyle Lowry.
– The choice of Richardson as the starter was interesting because with Dru Smith (knee) out for the season, Richardson is also the de facto backup point guard.
– Richardson’s first 3-pointer tied Wayne Ellington for 10th on the Heat’s all-time list.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game not to get caught up in the point guard’s finishing.
– “We feel good about that,” he said. “We are speaking different languages. I don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole of saying no position and then people say it’s spoism. I don’t feel like wasting time on that. But yes, we have enough. We are playing differently. So it’s hard for me to explain. But we feel comfortable with what we have.”
– Kevin Love, back after missing Wednesday’s game in Cleveland for personal reasons, entered along with Jaime Jaquez Jr. as the Heat’s first reserves.
– continued Caleb Martin.
– Left the Heat playing larger rotations than usual, including Love alongside Adebayo.
– Cole Swider then came on early in the second period to make it nine for the Heat.
– That left Jamal Cain and Thomas Bryant as the only players who did not see action.
– With Robinson playing his best ball, Spoelstra did not minimize the absence,
– “But we have played some lineups without him, and this will be something short-term,” he said. “How long that will last, I don’t know. But we can think about coming up with a game plan to get enough points on the board and do it in a slightly different way.”
– As Martin recovers from preseason knee soreness, Spoelstra said the results have been encouraging.
– “We specifically do not use a minute restriction term,” he said. “But he is making tremendous progress and we want to keep it that way. I’m not going to play with him, I won’t say what kind of minutes. But he was able to play 25 minutes the other night and was good (Thursday). “That was a great sign.”
– Spoelstra added: “We just have to keep it in this direction. “You can see what he brings to us, which is an X-factor dynamic on both ends of the court.”
– Martin said there was some residual soreness Wednesday night, but nothing major.
– Regarding the knee soreness that has sidelined point guard RJ Hampton, who is on a two-way contract, Spoelstra said: “I don’t have a timetable for him. But I actually just talked to Jeff Ruiz, our physical therapist who works with him in Miami. And he is making very good progress. He’s doing more and doing things on the court. But there is no specific timeline on when he will return. But everything is encouraging, not only for RJ but also for Tyler (Herro).”
– With Saturday in Brooklyn ending the Heat’s 9-for-10 road streak, as well as the Heat’s season-opening 12-for-17 streak away from Kaseya Center, Spoelstra was asked at morning shootaround about fatigue on the road.
– “No,” he said, “this has been a great opportunity for our team. We said as we begin the first part of this journey that the next three weeks would be an opportunity to try to take our team to a different level. “We are starting to be more consistent with our identity, we are playing more consistent basketball.”
– He added: “It has been good for us, we have been able to come together and we have had many good experiences so far along the way.”
– You did notice an exception.
– “The only time any of us probably felt it was yesterday, during Thanksgiving, the Thanksgiving meal,” he said, “for those of us who didn’t have our families there.”
– Then he invoked Heat president Pat Riley.
– “But as Pat says, if you want to be in professional sports and particularly at this type of level and live our dreams, especially if you are a good team,” he said, “you are going to play on a lot of vacations and that is part of the deal and We are grateful for that.”
– Friday was the third of four group games for the Heat in the NBA Season Tournament.
– “We wanted to be open to it,” Spoelstra said. “I think from the beginning we thought this was good for the league and you don’t know what to expect until you’re actually in it.”
– And he added: “It is definitely awakening everyone’s interest. Today was a reminder that we are only two weeks away. That’s when that first championship can happen. “It would be exciting to be a part of this.”
– Friday meant a reunion for Spoelstra with Knicks guards Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart, who were part of the USA Basketball roster at last summer’s World Cup, where Spoelstra worked as an assistant for Team USA. .under the direction of Steve Kerr.
– “They are high-quality people,” Spoelstra said of Brunson and Hart. “That’s why they’ve been so successful in college and professionally. They are winning players, but also people off the field. “I really enjoyed my time with them.”
– Spoelstra later noted that he and Hart live in the same Miami neighborhood.