BOSTON – Observations from Thursday night’s 110-97 NBA playoff loss to the Boston Celtics and other notes of interest:
Erik Spoelstra doesn’t panic.
– But he reads the room.
– and status.
– Nonchalant and aloof when needed.
– This is one of those times.
– With all due respect to what Kevin Love has to offer since his February arrival.
– The Heat-Celtics melee has become.
– A scoring scramble.
– And this requires mobility.
— something Caleb Martin offers in Overdrive.
– And at the age of 34, there is something missing in Love.
Before Love came, Martin was the starter.
– Has a positive net rating with him in the starting lineup with the Heat.
– This does not mean that love disappears.
– rather becomes your backup center.
In place of Cody Zeller.
— Spoelstra did at the start of Thursday night’s fourth quarter.
– So far, there has been no definite need for change.
– But at 3-2, the comfort zone is not the same as 3-0 or 3-1.
Selflessness has carried the heat here.
Looks like it’s love’s turn now.
– The short-term outlook was to start Heywood Highsmith in the second half of Thursday.
— which takes Martin’s energy off the bench.
– But can a waiting game be afforded?
– With Gabe Vincent out with an ankle sprain, Kyle Lowry returned to the Heat’s starting lineup for the first time since February 2, before he missed six weeks due to sore knee.
– The other Heat starters remained Bam Adebayo, Love, Jimmy Butler and Max Strauss.
– The Celtics again opened with Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Marcus Smart.
Regarding the forced lineup change, Strauss said, “We’ve all played together in different lineups and things like that. It’s really about our mindset and our assertiveness.
Adebayo agreed, “All of us, throughout the season, have adapted to getting the boys out.”
– Celtics coach Joe Majulla addressed Vincent’s absence during his pregame remarks.
– “We have to increase the awareness of the personnel, the details and the understanding that each one of them is being asked to do more, and that is what we have to do,” he said.
-Martin entered as the Heat’s first substitute.
– Cody Zeller chase when the Heat were down 23-10.
— then Duncan Robinson, with Butler passing to the primary ballhandler.
– Later, Highsmith made it nine deep early in the second period, in his first rotation minutes in the series.
– At the time, the only Heat players not available to see action were Omar Yurtseven, Nikola Jovic and Udonis Haslem.
– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stressed on the morning shootaround that missteps at this level rarely lead to failures.
– “You have to expect the playoffs to be tough,” he said. “No matter what happens in the series, who is up, who is down, it is always a challenge to win. This is increased competition. This is the best competition. Our people love to compete. They love every aspect of the playoffs that exists.
– Spoelstra insisted he handled Thursday’s preparation as he does every playoff game.
– “That’s what it’s about. It’s not about outdoing it,” he said.
Spoelstra again stressed the importance of an active Adebayo.
– “His being offensive is really important for our team,” he said, “but also getting other guys easy baskets.”
– The Heat tried to get Adebayo to start with limited success.
Adebayo said he appreciated the importance of ending the series.
– “The sooner the better,” he said. “Friends can rest, have quality healing time, and prepare for the next step.”
Adebayo opened up about going up against longtime friend and rival Grant Williams, the Celtics forward, in the morning shootaround.
– “I’ve been playing against him since high school,” Adebayo said. “It’s just crazy how long you can see someone in different environments, at different stages of their life.”
– Tyler Herro takes a shot before the game as he continues to work his way back from his broken right hand, but Spoelstra said not to overplay the moment.
– “Same situation,” said Spoelstra. “No update on that. They’re just starting it.
– Majulla addressed a pregame partial tendon tear in his shooting elbow playing through Boston guard Malcolm Brogdon.
– “He’s playing through it, giving us everything he’s got, and we’re doing it the same way, how he’s playing and how he’s managing it,” said Mazzulla . “He’s fighting, and grateful for that.”
Majulla shared a particularly poignant perspective during his pregame.
“I met three girls under 21 with terminal cancer, and I felt like I was helping them by talking to them, and they were helping me,” he said. “So having an understanding about what life is really about and seeing a girl dying and smiling and enjoying her life, that’s really what it’s all about, and having that faith and understanding.”
Paul Pearce was among those in attendance, entering to much applause.