Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 109-103 NBA playoff victory over the Boston Celtics:
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra rarely shows his hand before a game.
– Any hand. Any game.
– Saturday morning was different.
– With Bam Adebayo averaging a meager eight points two games into this series, on an average of five shots, he knew more had to be done.
– And that Adebayo had to be doing more.
– “We want him more involved,” Spoelstra said before noon at TD Garden. “And I have to do a better job of that, of making sure that he’s involved, engaged, giving us some triggers.”
– Spoelstra paused, as if to make clear he wasn’t talking about handing the keys to Adebayo.,
– “It might not necessarily be what everybody thinks it may be,” he said. “But he’s a very important part of our offense and how we function.”
– So they treated him as such.
– And Adebayo treated himself as such.
– “I think we’ll be able to get him in places where he can be assertive in how he was all season,” Spoelstra said.
– That mission was accomplished in the opening minutes, Adebayo up to a series-high 10 points with 6:23 remaining in the opening period.
– Now all that is needed is for Adebayo to do it again.
– Because with Jimmy Butler’s right knee again inflamed, there might not be any other choice.
– Even with Kyle Lowry back.
– Even with Victor Oladipo available.
– The twists keep coming.
– But at least the Heat on Saturday night untangled Adebayo.
– With Lowry (hamstring) and P.J. Tucker (knee) available, the Heat got back to their primary starting lineup, one rounded out by Butler, Adebayo and Max Strus.
– With their starts, Butler and Lowry both tied Terry Porter for 79th on the all-time NBA playoff list, moving them past Moses Malone and Dennis Rodman for 80th.
– With Spoelstra mindful of Lowry’s minutes, previous starting point guard Gabe Vincent was the first reserve off the Heat bench.
– Dewayne Dedmon followed, and then Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin together.
– Then, briefly, Duncan Robinson.
– And eventually Oladipo out of necessity.
– Butler’s first point moved him past Rick Barry for 79th on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Butler’s third point moved him past Cliff Hagan for 78th on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Adebayo’s 12th point moved him past Tim Hardaway for 10th on the all-time Heat playoff list.
– Lowry’s first 3-pointer moved him past JJ Redick for 27th on the all-time NBA playoff list and tied him with Rasheed Wallace for 26th.
– Lowry’s first steal moved him past Tony Allen, Jamaal Wilkes and Terry Porter for 62nd on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Strus’ second 3-pointer moved him past Damon Jones for 20th on the all-time Heat playoff list.
– Spoelstra went in stressing that he knew if his ailing players could play they would.
– “We have a locker room full of these kinds of guys,” he said. “There’s been so much narrative in this league about load management, guys resting, guys sitting out for better or worse. We don’t have guys wired like that.”
– Celtics coach Ime Udoka went in seeking a solid start in order to inspire the home crowd.
– “I’d say in general, our starts at times weren’t the best in the Milwaukee series, even Brooklyn to some extent early,” Udoka said pregame. “To get the crowd into it, you want to have good starts.”
– He added, “I don’t think we focus on home or road as much as some other teams maybe. We’ve been really good on the road at times, as you saw in the Milwaukee series. And so for us it’s neither here nor there.”
– Udoka pregame also discussed the emotional approach of guard Marcus Smart toward his Celtics teammates.
– “I’ve always said guys have been receptive to constructive criticism and they have the freedom to discuss, debate and talk back if they have something to say,” he said. “So an open line of communication from all of us I think has been beneficial. Feelings don’t get hurt.”
– He added, “Guys that have been together for a while can get on each other and respond in the proper way. And so Marcus is a guy that plays with his emotions on his sleeve, says what comes to mind at times. I don’t think guys are sensitive to the delivery. It’s more so what’s being said.”
– Spoelstra also addressed Smart’s fire, “You have to respect Marcus as a competitor more than anything.”