Observations and other notes of interest from Wednesday night’s 104-100 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers:
– As turnovers multiplied, from 20 to three quarters, it was clear that the Heat needed an accommodation force.
“Something more than Gabe Vincent.
– Something less erratic than Victor Oladipo.
– All signs point to Kyle Lowry returning possibly as early as this weekend.
– The Heat don’t just need Lowry to be good.
– They need him to be everything they were looking for when he was signed in the 2021 offseason.
– Because that against the Cavaliers was nothing short of a mess.
– Yes, Lowry has been out for over a month, so perhaps expectations should be tempered.
– But maybe the month off will bring a rested player, capable of providing accommodation.
– This looked like a season that would not offer Lowry a second chance.
– That opportunity may still be at hand.
– Kevin Love was back after missing Monday’s game with a bruised rib and back in the starting lineup.
– “He has fit in very well,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. “It’s a short period, but it complements this initial group a lot. And it was a position of necessity for us. This was not an indictment of anything that happened in Cleveland. He had a tremendous year last year.”
– Spoelstra added: “But for us, a lot of this league is about fit. And for our starter group, he fits in really well.”
– That’s what he did, with eight points and eight rebounds in three quarters.
– The other four starters remained Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Vincent.
– Max Strus had started for Love on Monday night.
— Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff praised Love pre-game in Love’s closing time in Cleveland, including stepping aside to allow the team’s emerging young players to thrive.
– “He gave me the opportunity to train people differently because he was willing to sacrifice a lot, so that I could hold everyone to the same standard.”, said Bickerstaff.
– Cody Zeller and Oladipo entered again as the Heat’s first two reserves.
– Zeller came on after Adebayo was called for his second foul with 4:51 left in the first period.
– Strus and Caleb Martin followed.
– Even when Love was out, Martin remained the Heat’s backup, with Martin emerging as a fourth-quarter staple.
– “I tell our guys all the time, make us play you,” Spoelstra said of Martin. “Impacted the game so much that we can’t take him out of the game and he’s living and breathing that right now.”
– With Love back in the fight, Duncan Robinson was again eliminated, after a solid contribution to Monday’s victory.
— Lowry, who last played on Feb. 2, had a pre-game session on Main Court.
“He is making great progress,” said Spoelstra.
— Spoelstra was effusive in his pre-game praise of the Cavaliers’ defense.
– “It’s legit,” he said. “They have won first place now. It’s something we’re trying to achieve. They were probably the most consistent defensive team all year.”
– Spoelstra added, “They do a great job protecting the paint, eliminating easy baskets on the edge. They have length. They are well trained.”
– Love’s first offensive rebound moved him past LaSalle Thompson for 84th on the NBA’s all-time list.
– Butler’s eighth free-throw attempt moved him past Bob Lanier to 92nd on the NBA’s all-time list.
– Herro’s 20th point was the 4,000th of his regular season career.
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