Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 113-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls:
– It’s almost as if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra merely is looking to buy time in the absence of sidelined center Cody Zeller, who is recovering from a procedure for the nasal fracture sustained last Saturday in Orlando.
– This time, after three ineffective minutes in his initial stint, second-year Omer Yurtseven did not return in the first half, with Kevin Love instead shifted to center when Adebayo took his second break of the game.
– Then, when starting center Bam Adebayo took his first break of the second half, it was Haywood Highsmith entering for the first time, instead of Yurtseven.
– Even with Love also out of the game at the time.
– In other words, Spoelstra was more willing to go with a front line of Highsmith, Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin than tempt the fates with Yurtseven.
– With Zeller, there was immediate trust from Spoelstra from his arrival at last month’s buyout deadline.
– With Yurtseven, there has been nothing similar in the second-year big man’s week back.
– Keep in mind that Yurtseven will be a free agent in the offseason.
– So if the Heat decide against re-signing, there still remains time to clear that roster spot for Orlando Robinson.
– Which would make Robinson playoff eligible.
– The Heat again opened with Adebayo, Kevin Love, Butler, Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent.
– The Heat’s first seven shots all were 3-point attempts. The first two-point shot, by Herro, did not come until 6:40 remained in the opening period.
– Max Strus and Yurtseven then entered together as the Heat’s first two reserves.
– Followed by Martin.
– And then Victor Oladipo for nine deep.
– The appearance was the 500th regular-season game of Oladipo’s career.
– Oladipo’s first steal was the 800th of his career.
– Then, in the second half, Spoelstra opted for Highsmith over Yurtseven when Adebsyo went out.
– Spoelstra declined to get into specifics pregame about the reasoning behind holding out Lowry on Saturday instead of Sunday against the lesser Pistons.
– “Because this was part of the plan,” Spoelstra said, without offering specifics about the plan. “This is what we planned on during the week and we’re sticking with the plan. This is when we deemed his next work day.”
– Pressed, he only added. “This was the plan and we’re just following the plan.
– Lowry went through a complete shooting cycle with assistant coach Anthony Carter pregame.
– The Heat have two remaining back-to-backs, one each of the final two weeks of the regular season.
– “We’ll see where we go from here,” Spoelstra said of the planning with Lowry. “But this is the plan for this week. We’re formulating the plan for next week and we’ll see where we go from there.”
– Asked if Lowry was the only Heat player on such a management program, Spoesltra said, “Right now, yeah. That could change. We’ll see.”
– Oladipo was back in the mix after being held out of Wednesday night’s home victory over the Grizzlies.
– “You have to stay ready,” Spoelstra said of Oladipo. “Look, there are things that happen for players during the course of a long season. It doesn’t always go how you plan, how you hope.”
– So, from Spoelstra, the usual, just be ready. “We need contributions from everybody on the roster,” Spoelstra said. ” It could be different guys at different times for different circumstances, injuries. It’s about producing right now and helping the team win.”
– Adebayo’s second offensive rebound was the 900th of his career.
– Strus’ second 3-pointer was the 400th of his career.
– Butler’s second defensive rebound gave him 2,800 for his career.
– Butler’s sixth rebound moved him past Keith Askins for 16th on the Heat all-time list.
– Butler’s seventh free throw moved him past Amar’e Stoudemire for 70th on the NBA all-time list.
– Herro’s fourth basket was the 1,500th of his career.
– Spoelstra spoke pregame of the Heat’s offensive uptick.
– “For us offensively, we’ve been trying to build the right habits all season long,” he said. “There have been times where we’ve been trending in the right direction and then we’ve taken a step back. This is probably our longest stretch where we’ve been the most intentional in playing to our strengths and maintaining a consistent shot profile.”
– Bulls coach Billy Donovan offered pregame praise for Butler.
– “I think the thing that doesn’t get talked enough about him is he’s really, really smart,” Donovan said. “He, I think, plays the game in a way that he derives a lot more pleasure getting his teammates involved and getting guys going and almost kind of using himself as a decoy to help.”
– Donovan added, “And then, obviously, in big moments, he’s not afraid to take the big shot. But you can just tell when you watch him play, the only thing that’s on his mind is, ‘What do I have to do, what do we have to do to win tonight?’ I’ve got great respect for guys like Jimmy Butler.”