Rotation gets one last regular-season look, plus Heat-hawks thoughts – The Mercury News

Observations and other notes of interest from Friday night’s 113-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks:

– With the Heat’s playoffs not opening until April 17, coach Erik Spoelstra said the decision was made earlier in the day to go with those available in the primary rotation.

– “It’s a little unusual because of the play-in, that we’ll have a little more time,” Spoelstra said of the extra round of the playoffs next week. “And everyone wanted to compete tonight.”

– Spoelstra said, “We won’t play our first playoff game until the 17th. This is an opportunity to continue competing and stay sharp.”

– Expect a different approach to Sunday’s regular season finale in Orlando.

— and for that matter, expect extra room for some people traveling on a Saturday flight.

– For many of the Heat’s leading men, the regular season effectively ended with Friday’s game.

– but with it played for the Keep, it had Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Max Strauss in the starting lineup.

– Caleb Martin also started in place of PJ Tucker, who is suffering a calf strain in Tuesday’s win over the Hornets.

– Martin was one of five players listed as suspects shortly before game time. All five were cleared to play: Martin, Dwayne Deadman, Heywood Highsmith, Markiff Morris and Gabe Vincent.

– Another sign Heat went for it.

— Omar Yurtseven was out of the team due to a non-Covid stomach ailment.

– Tyler Harrow again played as the sixth man.

— with Deadman in his distinctive role as Big Man Before the Bench.

– Vincent entered when Lowry was called for his second foul, with 2:54 remaining in the opening period.

— that too when Duncan Robinson entered, to make it nine deep for Spoelstra.

– So no Markif Morris or Victor Oladipo in the primary rotation.

– They can certainly get their chances on Sunday, should they do so.

— but still, at best, appear to be established as playoff specialists.

— Butler’s third free-throw effort saw him surpass Goran Dragic in 12th place on the all-time heats list.

– Lowry’s first steal put him behind Ricky Green in 69th place on the NBA’s all-time list.

– Robinson’s fourth point propelled him past Tyler Johnson to 25th on the Heat all-time list.

– With his eighth point, Hawks Trey Young reached 2,100 for the season, becoming one of four players in franchise history to reach that point in one season (Pete Marwich, Bob Petit and Dominic Wilkins).

Hawks coach Nate McMillan significantly reduced the running heat to a routine.

– “I really didn’t think it mattered,” he said. “That team is going to play a certain way, no matter what. They’re going to bring it. They’re going to be physically defensive. They’re going to play their game.”

– He said, “There’s a system, so it doesn’t really matter, five guys on the floor for them. They’re going to play the same way.”

– McMillan essentially offered a pregame scouting report on the Heat, a team the Hawks could have met in the first round.

– “They force turnover by their pressure,” he said. “They do a good job of switching, with Baum being able to defend one to five. So we have to defend them. Get some ball movement. Be prepared for their changing defenses. They go from one press to one area. Will go.”

– Hero and Adebayo addressed the crowd pregame before the regular-season home finale, with Adebayo saying, “We appreciate you showing up and being loud every night. Let’s get ready for the playoffs. Hot Do.”

– The Heat opened the game with a pregame delay-of-game warning warning of too many hand-slaps not being prepared enough.


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