Following up their first preseason win Friday night over the Golden State Warriors, the Miami Heat faced the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs for the first time since losing to them in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
And, surprisingly, it was a fun one even with coach Erik Spoelstra sitting out Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng to give them some rest coming into the regular season. Instead, it was to become a night of continued experimenting with Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Shawne Williams and Danny Granger getting the starting nods.
In their third overtime game this season, Shabazz Napier drove the offense scoring 25 points. After a bump to the face from teammate Shawne Williams, thus resulting in stitches, Mario Chalmers (11 points) went to the dressing room, which paved the way for Tyler Johnson to get some much need minutes. Johnson produced a whopping 17 points in 36 minutes of action. And with the team's outside shooting in question coming into this season, it was former Duke guard Andre Dawkins showing he possesses a much needed skill from outside. Dawkins produced 16 points and hit three of his five 3-point shots.
With Napier seemingly getting better with each preseason game, it's easy to start wondering if he could push for the starting nod at some point this season. But with Mario Chalmers running deep with experience and Norris Cole also competing for the point guard role, maybe that's getting ahead of ourselves.
The Spurs were also without their stars; Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard were all being rested.
It's worth noting the Heat had the opportunity to draft Spurs' rookie Kyle Anderson out of UCLA before they settled on a draft night deal, which brought Napier to the team. We will never truly know if Napier is the guy they wanted all along or, if it was to keep LeBron James happy. What we do know is Napier is currently the third string point guard and Anderson could have fit in perfectly with his versatility at both forward positions. He plays an unselfish, fluid style of basketball we've come to know from the Heat. Anderson finished with 17 points.
The Heat are back home Tuesday where they face the Houston Rockets at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Rio to Johnson https://t.co/jd7mgtohps— Hayley Byrnes (@HayloHaylz) October 19, 2014