Heat Notes: First-Round Series, Robinson, Rozier, Draft, Lillard

If the Heat have any advantage heading into their first-round series with the Celtics, it comes from being more battle-tested, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. While Miami was fighting its way through a pair of high-stakes play-in games this week, Boston was resting up and preparing for its playoff opener. Chiang notes that the Celtics wrapped up the top seed in the East weeks ago, and their regulars haven’t played at all since April 11. Meanwhile, the Heat maintained their intensity through a late-season battle for seeding.

“I love this position, honestly,” Tyler Herro said. “A lot of people didn’t think we were going to win [Friday against the Bulls] and that’s part of it. I feel like we’re better when our backs are against the wall anyways. So we’re going to go to Boston and come up with a game plan with the coaching staff to stop one of the better teams, pretty much ever really, on paper.”

With Jimmy Butler sidelined by an MCL injury and Terry Rozier still out with neck spasms, the Heat are missing two key components from an offense that ranked 21st in the league and often struggled to produce points. Miami’s best chance to duplicate last year’s surprising playoff run is to start by being physical with the Celtics, who led the NBA in offensive efficiency.

“Naturally with some of our firepower out and some guys banged up, it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Kevin Love said. “But different guys are just going to have to step up. You saw it last year with guys going down. But we just have to continue to weather the storm and understand we’re going to be in for a big fight.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Duncan Robinson, who has been dealing with back issues, has been cleared to play in today’s series opener, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel, who posted a video of Robinson testing out his back while shooting this morning. Robinson logged 12 minutes and scored eight points in Friday’s win over Chicago.
  • The official diagnosis hasn’t changed for Rozier, Winderman adds (Twitter link), with coach Erik Spoelstra telling reporters, “We’ll continue to treat him day-to-day.” An earlier report described Rozier’s injury as week-to-week.
  • The play-in results have Miami locked into the 15th pick in this year’s draft, Chiang states in a separate story. The Heat won’t be permitted to trade their selection before the June 26 draft because they owe a lottery-protected first-rounder to Oklahoma City in 2025. It will be Miami’s highest draft choice in five years, and Chiang lists Purdue center Zach Edey, Duke center Kyle Filipowski, Providence guard Devin Carter, Colorado forward Tristan da Silva and Duke guard Jared McCain as players who might be available in that range.
  • After trying to trade for Damian Lillard for most of last summer, the Heat could renew that pursuit this offseason if the veteran guard decides he wants out of Milwaukee, Winderman notes in another piece. Winderman expects team president Pat Riley to go star hunting again, listing Donovan Mitchell, Karl-Anthony Towns and Pascal Siakam among a large group of potential targets.
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