The current road trip is turning into a disaster for the short-handed Heat, but Sunday’s loss at Cleveland gave coach Erik Spoelstra a chance to experiment with a new lineup combination, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. First-round pick Nikola Jovic played 17 minutes alongside Bam Adebayo, giving the team two big men who are known for their passing skills.
Although the pairing didn’t get off to a great start — Miami was outscored by four points in their time on the court together — it may be a combination that Spoelstra turns to more often in the future. Adebayo attributed the early struggles to “growing pains” and said he enjoys being partnered with Jovic.
“I feel like with two passing bigs, we can feed off each other,” Adebayo said. “As you can see, (Jovic is) showing he can get in the gaps, he can see stuff. Just working with two guys that can pass, who are versatile, I feel like it makes our offense better.”
There’s more on the Heat:
- The last thing Miami needed was another injury, but Duncan Robinson limped off the court in the fourth quarter after spraining his left ankle, Chiang states in a separate story. Robinson played 21 minutes after missing Friday’s game with a sprained right hand, but he had to leave Sunday’s contest after stepping on another player’s foot. Spoelstra said Robinson’s status for tonight’s game in Minnesota is uncertain.
- The Heat got some good news about Jimmy Butler, who had to return to Miami over the weekend due to right knee soreness, Chiang adds. Tests on Butler’s knee showed no damage, and there’s a chance he could return Wednesday or Friday. Tyler Herro has missed the past seven games with a sprained left ankle, and Spoelstra said, “He’s not quite ready.”
- Miami had just seven healthy players on Friday and 10 on Sunday, but luxury tax concerns have prevented the team from filling its open roster spot, Chiang explains in another piece. The Heat are about $200K below the threshold and can’t add another player right now without becoming a taxpaying team. Even a small tax payment this season would have repeater tax ramifications going forward — the team projects to be a taxpayer in upcoming years after signing Herro to a large extension last month.