Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 104-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns:
– With this Victor Oladipo, the Heat could be going places.
– With this Victor Oladipo there is the bench balance missing since Tyler Herro graduated to the starting lineup.
– With Herro out, Oladipo nonetheless remained a reserve.
– It proved to be masterstroke by coach Erik Spoelstra.
– Because this time Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo didn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
– And when points were needed late, Oladipo was there to help make a difference.
– In a spot the Heat had to win.
– On the flip side, there was an interesting pregame moment, when Spoelstra addressed why he played two-way player Orlando Robinson ahead of veteran big man Dewayne Dedmon during Wednesday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
– Spoelstra said with Dedmon having missed so much time lately, Dedmon needed more time to reacclimate.
– He indicated Robinson again would play ahead of Dedmon.
– That didn’t happen.
– And the Dedmon minutes were tenuous.
– Putting all the more pressure on Adebayo.
– Perhaps Dedmon comes around.
– But it has been a struggle all season.
– The Heat have a lot of options at center (at least when the roster is healthy), including an All-Star starter.
– But at the moment the question is whether they have what they need in reserve.
– All-Adebayo all-the-time is a tough way to try to make it to the finish line.
– Injuries had the Heat opening with Haywood Highsmith and Max Strus alongside Adebayo, Butler and Kyle Lowry.
– It was the Heat’s 17th starting lineup in their 40 games, necessitated with Caleb Martin out with ankle and quadriceps issues, and Tyler Herro out with back spasms.
– With the start, Adebayo tied P.J. Brown for 14th on the Heat all-time list.
– With his start, Lowry passed Chris Mullin for 95th on the NBA all-time list.
– With his third point, Butler passed Bimbo Coles for 16th on the Heat all-time scoring list.
– With Devin Booker, Cam Johnson and Cam Payne out, the Suns opened with Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig and Deandre Ayton.
– Paul then missed the second half with hip soreness.
– Spoelstra did not want to hear pregame anything about the Suns being shorthanded.
– “This is an extremely competitive league and I think night to night you have no idea who’s going to be available,” Spoelstra said. “So you better focus on your team, your habits, your identity, playing consistent basketball. That’s enough for us.”
– He added, “With the parity in the league, it just feels like every single game just has great meaning and significance and there’s desperation on both sides.”
– Spoelstra said it became clear during Wednesday night’s loss to the Lakers that Martin would need more time off.
– “He kind of tweaked both of ‘em in the Laker game,” Spoelstra said. “I saw both of them happen. He rolled his ankle and then I think he got hit in his quad, where he’s had a lot of discomfort.”
– Victor Oladipo played as Heat sixth man.
– Dedmon and Gabe Vincent then followed.
– That left Robinson and Udonis Haslem as the only other available Heat players not to see action,
– Making it all the more confounding that the Heat chose to send Jamal Cain to the G League ahead of the game.
– For his part, Cain closed with 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Heat’s G League affiliate.
– Asked about the breakout 40- and 50-point performances around the league this season, Spoelstra said pregame, “If we could get a couple of guys and get a couple of 40-point games, I like it, too, for us.”
– And, no, he said, he would not dissuade such outbursts.
– “I wouldn’t say we’re a prevent offense,” he said. “I don’t want to be Dean Smith, [where] I’m the only guy that can hold our guys down. No, I want our guys to score.”
– The game was the last for the Heat this season beyond the Central time zone, easing travel the balance of the season.
– Adebayo extended his streak of games scoring in double figures to 52, three games shy of the longest streak of his career.
– Lowry’s first steal tied David Robinson for 63rd on the NBA all-time list.
– With his first 3-pointer, Lowry extended his streak of games with at least one to 34, matching the longest streak of his career, set in 2015-16 with the Raptors.
– Lowry’s first 3-pointer also was the 2,050th of his career.