Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 107-106 loss to the Washington Wizards:
– Understand, it was just two weeks ago that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was speaking about the possibility of sending Nikola Jovic to the G League for playing time and seasoning.
– And then opportunity arrived in the form of injuries to others.
– Now, there is little doubt that at 19, and yet to graduate high school, the No. 27 pick in June’s NBA draft belongs.
– Friday, with just about anybody and everybody sidelined, there was little option but to cede time to Jovic as a starter.
– (Who said at the morning shootaround that he still has yet to get around to that pesky on-line high school final needed to graduate.)
– And for the second consecutive game in the absence of Bam Adebayo, Jovic produced.
– Working his way to the foul line like a veteran.
– But if a rotation role, then where?
– Consider that even with Jovic on the court, coach Spoelstra also had Orlando Robinson out there alongside at times.
– And, in the end, Robinson was the choice as closer because of his bulk.
– So if Jovic is not a center, can he take the rotation role of Dewayne Dedmon?
– Or is Dedmon’s muscle needed?
– One option could be Duncan Robinson’s minutes, as limited as they have been.
– No matter, Sioux Falls may have to wait.
– With it likely to remain South Florida instead of South Dakota.
– The kid stuff has been impressive and encouraging this week.
– Of yet another start for Jovic, Spoelstra said pregame, “He picks up things quickly and he also has pride in what he does. He wants to do it right. He wants to be reliable for his team.”
– So, to recap, for the Heat there was no Adebayo, Dedmon, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo or Omer Yurtseven.
– All dealing with injuries.
– And no Udonis Haslem due to a personal matter.
– So . . . the Heat rolled out a starting lineup of Jovic, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith, Max Strus and Kyle Lowry.
– Highsmith, who during training camp had been considered a rotation prospect, had not appeared in eight of the previous 10 games, largely limited to mop-up duty.
– That left two-way contract players Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson as the only available reserves.
– Strus’ third 3-point attempt moved him past Kendrick Nunn for 20th on the Heat all-time list.
– With limited options, the Heat opened in zone defense.
– Although sidelined with knee swelling, Vincent was listed as active and was in uniform so the Heat could meet the league minimum of eight in uniform.
– Vincent exacerbated the swelling at the morning shootaround.
– “After last game, his knee was a little bit sore,” Spoelstra said. “I’m sure it’s just the uptick in minutes and mode and everything. And that’s where you have to treat each player’s circumstance separately.”
– It was Vincent’s first absence of the season, having played 30 or more minutes in four of the previous five games.
– Spoelstra said it was mostly a matter of protecting Vincent against himself.
– “He’s got that kind of feeling, he’s seeing other guys out, ‘Hey, I have to go play,’ ” Spoelstra said. “But we want to be responsible to each player. We think it’s the best decision for him not to go tonight.”
– Also sidelined due to the morning shootaround was Duncan Robinson, who was listed with a sprained right hand after catching it in a uniform.
– “It’s just one of those freakish things,” Spoelstra said. “He got his finger caught in a jersey and we’ll just continue to treat him and see how he feels.”
– Spoelstra said sitting out Adebayo for a second consecutive game with a knee bruise simply was a matter of prudence, even with Orlando Robinson the only available center.
– “Bam really wants to get out there,” Spoelstra said, “but we have to be responsible.”
– Unlike last season, when the Heat were able to add outside players amid COVID without roster, luxury-tax or salary-cap impact, that is not the case this season.
– So it wasn’t as if the Heat could grab a player from Washington’s G League affiliate, as they did last year from San Antonio’s G League team in Austin, Texas.
– Spoelstra, of course, went in as one would expect of any coach.
– “Nobody stops for you,” he said. “The league doesn’t stop. The league doesn’t feel sorry for you.”
– Dedmon formally was listed as out due to illness, but has been dealing with an ongoing foot issue.
– Oladipo, who is dealing with knee pain, yet to play this season, again shot pregame.
– Spoelstra also was asked pregame about Yurtseven, who underwent ankle surgery this week.
– “The outlook looks great for him, in terms of he’ll be available at some point this season,” Spoelstra said.
– Asked when Yurtseven, who is expected to miss at least three months, might be back, Spoelstra said, “We’ll get to that point when he’s available.”
– Of the roster shortfall, Strus said at the morning shootaround, “This is where you can make a name for yourself, make a career for yourself. Opportunities like this can open doors. So if it’s not for us, there are 29 other teams watching. If I was a young guy on a two-way or just haven’t played that much, I would look at this as a great opportunity.”