Erik Spoelstra made an important lineup change that helped the Heat draw even in the NBA Finals, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Kevin Love, who sat out the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals and the first game against the Nuggets, was back in the starting lineup Sunday to counteract Denver’s size advantage.
Love put up modest numbers with six points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes, but the Heat outscored the Nuggets by 18 points while he was on the court. After the game, Spoelstra regretted that he didn’t try the veteran forward in the series opener.
“I didn’t have the foresight; that’s on me,” Spoelstra said. “We just went through what finished the previous series. Clearly we needed that size and physicality that Kevin brings.”
“That’s a great coaching adjustment, putting Kevin Love in the starting lineup,” Kyle Lowry added. “… Kevin is the ultimate pro. He changed our locker room with his energy and effort.”
There’s more on the Heat:
- Tyler Herro still hasn’t received medical clearance, but there are reports that he might be ready when the series resumes Wednesday night in Miami, Jackson adds. Herro was able to practice with the team on Saturday. “We’re really encouraged by the progress,” Spoelstra said. “He started doing contact work as soon as we got to Denver. We have to maintain perspective. We want to be responsible about this. We’re all excited and encouraged by his progress, but we’ll get back to Miami. All we’re doing is sticking to the process, trying to stack positive days, also understanding this is not trying to return to a game in December. This is the Finals. So there is a little bit of context to this.”
- Jimmy Butler spent Saturday night working on his shot with personal trainer Chris Brickley, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. He concentrated on taking the ball inside in Game 2, Shelburne notes, with 14 of his 19 shots coming from within 18 feet of the basket. He also got to the line five times after not shooting any free throws in the opener. “He just likes figuring things out,” Brickley said. “When he’s making those short shots, everything is different. So we worked on it.”
- Bam Adebayo has been Miami’s best player through the first two games of the series, states Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Adebayo delivered 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks on Sunday after a 26-point performance in Game 1 while matching up with Nikola Jokic. “Bam, we just can’t say enough of how difficult his responsibilities are in this series,” Spoelstra said. “To take arguably the toughest cover in the league for all the myriad of reasons that I don’t need to get into, and then he has to shoulder a big offensive role for us as well.”