The Miami Heat did something on Saturday that they hope they will never have to do for the rest of the season.
The Heat played without both of its All-Stars. Bam Adebayo wasn’t ready to play after just one team exercise after his late arrival at Walt Disney World and Jimmy Butler had the day off.
Without Adebayo and Butler, the Heat fought, but eventually fell to Utah Jazz 101-99 on Saturday afternoon in its second of three scenes at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. Miami won its first scrimmage on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.
While the first scrimmage featured 10-minute quarters, the Saturday show included standard 12-minute periods.
The Heat closes its three-game scrimmage program with an exhibition game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday at 2:00 pm. The real Miami games begin on August 1, when he opens his eight-game seeding program against the Denver Nuggets.
Five takeaways from Heat’s loss of scrimmage to Jazz on Saturday at HP Field House …
1. After just one team exercise in over four months, heat rookie guard Kendrick Nunn returned to training on Saturday.
Nunn took part in his first official team rehearsals on Friday from March, after joining the team on Tuesday and leaving the room quarantine requested on arrival Thursday. After Friday’s practice, he declared himself “ready to play”.
Coach Erik Spoelstra took Nunn’s word and started it, along with Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Derrick Jones Jr. and Meyers Leonard.
Nunn, 24, scored 18 minutes and finished with two 2-of-7 points, two rebounds and three assists. He scored his first points on his fourth game throw, an inverse layup.
“It’s more than just evaluating it right now,” said Spoelstra. “It’s fantastic to have him in the last two tests and have a few minutes tonight. Anything tonight was a nice surprise. It was extra. I wasn’t even going to play it, but he wanted to do it. He’s in really good shape, it can be said, and he got his feet wet enough. “
Of his Disney debut, Nunn said, “It was good. It’s a different kind of rhythm that you have to take, besides training. The form of the game is different. But it was nice to get up and down and get my rhythm back. “
2. But Adebayo didn’t play in Saturday’s scrum after just one test with the team.
Adebayo entered the NBA bubble alongside Nunn on Tuesday evening, with a COVID-19 diagnosis that delayed their arrival. And like Nunn, Adebayo has passed his first official team tests on Friday since March.
The fact that Adebayo was played on Saturday is not surprising, especially after Adebayo said he felt “scared” during Friday’s practice “just because I haven’t had a circle for a long time. So being out there the first time was a bit like the right foot, the left foot, a little going through the moments, just keeping your feet under you.
“I think we’ll do another workout,” Spoelstra said on Saturday of the team’s plan for Adebayo. “He really wants to feel a little more comfortable.”
Without Adebayo helping to protect the paint from the heat, the All-Star Jazz center Rudy Gobert took advantage of 21 points in 8-of-9, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 24 minutes.
After a few more days of work, it is certainly possible that Adebayo will be ready to play in Miami’s third and final scrimmage on Tuesday against the Grizzlies. The All-Star center only has a week to prepare before the heat begins its sowing schedule on August 1st.
3. Adebayo was not the only one missing from Heat. Miami played without both of its All-Stars, as Butler was given the day off.
Butler also played a few minutes in Heat’s first scrimmage. The 30-year-old ended the scrimmage game against the Kings with nine points, three rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes, and did not play in the second half.
With Adebayo and Nunn back with the team, next week it will be important to bring them both back to initial training. Spoelstra has opted to make sure Butler has rested for that process, with the start of the seeding games a few days later.
Butler is averaging the maximum points (20.2), assists (6.1) and steals (1.7) in his first season with Heat.
Considering the way Spoelstra handled the first two scrimmages, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tuesday’s Heat Treat exhibit as the “rehearsal” with Adebayo potentially available for his Disney debut.
The Heat returns to the driving range on Sunday afternoon.
4. Without both of its All-Stars, Heat needed others to create offense. The Kelly Olynyk center came forward and helped to fill part of the void.
Olynyk contributed an impressive line of statistics that included 27 game points high on 10 out of 16 shots from the field and 3 out of 7 shots out of three, eight rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes off the bench on Saturday. He was also keen in Wednesday’s scrimmage opener, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes.
This is good news for Heat, with the post-All-Star break version of Olynyk appearing in the first two scenes of Heat.
After a slow start to the season on his way back from an off-season knee injury, Olynyk scored 8.2 points on average as he shot 60% off the field and 66.7% of the three in 14.1 minutes in 11 games after the All-Star break. So the season has been suspended.
So far, Olynyk appears to be healthy and ready to continue his post-game break-all-star.
“We had a lot of kids standing out on the pitch. He had one of the best courses, ‘Spoelstra said of Olynyk’s first two weeks of testing at Disney. “He is currently in excellent shape. He really worked on it in May and June. “
After Saturday’s scrimmage, Olynyk said his physical health is “definitely day and night” compared to when he was kept off the pre-season training camp in October due to a knee injury.
The looming question is: will Olynyk be given a consistent point in the rotation of the Heat with the starting center Meyers Leonard returning from an ankle injury? Leonard missed 16 games before stopping the league due to a sprained left ankle.
Leonard has started in each of the 49 games he has played this season. And Olynyk and Leonard have only played one minute together this season, so it will be one or the other on the pitch. To both achieve consistent court times, Spoelstra will have to find a way to divide their minutes.
If all Heat players are available, as expected when seeding matches begin on August 1st, Olynyk is potentially the eleventh man. Depth remains a strong point for Miami.
5. Herro was also impressive against Jazz, bringing much of the offensive load with Adebayo and Butler out.
Heat’s beginner guard started the game and finished with 20 points in 8-out of 16 pitches, seven rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes. Just like in the opening film for Heat, Herro again played most of his minutes as a guard.
But her Disney debut didn’t go as well, as Herro ended Wednesday’s show against kings with an assist and four turnovers. The 20-year-old however managed to score 15 points in 5-on-14 by shooting at the opening of the scrimmage.
“It’s fearless,” said Spoelstra. “But you can see how he continues to develop his skill level. He is not just a shooter. He is a pilot, he is a director. He had a couple of good looks from the dribble. This makes it dynamic. That directorial skill, and that will continue to improve only when he learns to read the defenses and his body becomes stronger. “
As part of improving his game on the ball, Herro said he studied movies about Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Portland Trail Blazer guard CJ McCollum.
“There are many different guys that the coach shows me, examples of things I can do,” said Herro. “To take extra dribbling, to make that right pass, to get off the ball early, to do just a few things with the ball in my hands that I can take from different kids’ games. I am grateful to be young like me. I can learn from many different people. “