The Miami Heat fall to the Brooklyn Nets in their last preseason home game, 107-104, in a contest that was decided in the final few possessions.
When Nikola Jovic was fouled at the three-point line with around six seconds remaining, Heat supporters at the Kaseya Center almost got their dream to watch the club force the game into overtime. But the Nets appealed the decision and finally prevailed, which resulted in a jump ball at half-court. The Heat would eventually win it, but couldn’t make a solid shot as the clock ran down.
The Heat were without a number of starters, as ClutchPoints noted before the game, which allowed the club to emphasize more of its youthful players in the latter stages of the game.
According to the team’s X (formerly known as Twitter) page, the following players were not on the Heat roster when they faced the Nets, along with an explanation:
“RJ Hampton (hip), Tyler Herro (thigh), Caleb Martin (knee), Jaime Jaquez Jr. (groin), Jimmy Butler (return to competition conditioning) and Kevin Love (allow others the opportunity to play) have all been ruled out of tonight’s preseason game vs the Nets.”
Kyle Lowry also skipped the game to give others a chance to play, while Josh Richardson exited the game early due to a right foot ailment and didn’t come back.
Three lessons may be drawn from the preseason defeat:
Bam Adebayo has a strong game and is improving his mechanics
Bam Adebayo is often thought of as a strong defender but is also a competent attacking player. Even though he has played in the league for six seasons, he might yet make another step.
In his 15 minutes of action, he ended with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. The one thing that struck out was his mid-range shot, which you can see Adebayo worked on throughout the off-season. Given that he is already excellent defensively and stable around the rim with the ball in his hands, consistently hitting them may make him even more unpredictable and dangerous.
He scored a career-high 20.4 points per game on average last year. If he increases that, the Heat would be more dangerous, and his game would get another dimension. Defenders against the Nets were anticipating Adebayo to drive to the basket, so they were guessing his route, which seldom led to a disputed mid-range shot. In his sixth season, it will be intriguing to observe how his shot changes.
Cole Swider’s next big game
Cole Swider has been a thrilling player for the Heat throughout preseason play, particularly, and he demonstrated that once again on Wednesday night against the Nets. He ended with a team-high 15 points, shot 50% from the field, and connected on three of eight three-point tries.
Duncan Robinson has had a difficult preseason, and today he went only 1 for 6 from outside the arc. Swider filled in as the team’s primary three-point shooter in the game since the Heat had him. Of course, the preseason is still in effect, so contests are still meaningless. But it’s difficult to deny that Miami has added another powerful deep-ball shooter when you consider the potential he has.
How did other young players perform, such as Nikola Jovic and Dru Smith?
Young players are the “lifeblood” of the squad, as head coach Erik Spoelstra told ClutchPoints before the game. Nikola Jovic, who ended with nine points and five rebounds, is one prospect that Heat supporters are enthused about. He’s still developing, as the preseason has shown, but he can improve during the season.
Due to the absence of Kyle Lowry and the early exit of Josh Richardson due to injury, Dru Smith was given more playing time tonight at the point guard position. Smith ended the game with nine points and 10 assists after playing over 28 minutes. His 10 assists were crucial in demonstrating his abilities in the position that the Heat are deficient in, and it was likely his greatest preseason performance.
Other young players competing for roster spots include Justin Champagnie and Orlando Robinson, both of whom had their own standout performances. It will be difficult for Spoelstra to choose who makes the roster and who doesn’t since the majority of the young players are competing hard on the field.
He will have extra time since the Heat’s last exhibition game is on Friday when they travel to Houston to play the Rockets.