The Miami Heat continue to impress in the preseason, this time with a 108-100 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on the road.
Tyler Johnson led his team with 17 points off the bench with a shooting clinic in the first half, both from long range and attacking the rim. But it was a balanced team-first approach to the offense, with six Heat players scoring in double-figures and some impressive performances from a bench that may be significantly deeper than most analysts predicted.
The Spurs were without LaMarcus Aldridge on Friday night as coach Gregg Popovich utilized 15 players on his current roster, with none of his starters playing more than 23 minutes. Nevertheless, it was a good test for the Heat to deal with the constant shuffling and rotations necessitated by how the Spurs share the ball, though their passes weren’t exactly made with pinpoint accuracy at times -- especially in the first half.
Miami’s starting five all scored in double figures except for Goran Dragic, who appeared comfortable setting up his teammates instead of looking for his shot with six assists and just one turnover in 24 minutes of action. Justise Winslow had his best scoring output so far in the preseason with 15 points on 6-12 shooting, including a pair of nice-looking 3-pointers. Dion Waiters continues to impress as well with 15 points, this time as a starter, and showing the ability to be a playmaker with six assists and limiting his turnovers to just one this time around. James Johnson also had his moments off the bench with 15 points, showing some range but also his athleticism.
It was the Tyler Johnson show early on though, coming off the bench early in relief for Winslow to form a 3-guard lineup with Dragic and Waiters to great effect. He showed his usual high basketball IQ with several smart plays on both ends of the floor but most of all showed off his blossoming offensive skills and was a threat everywhere, including a pair of corner triples in the third quarter that held off the Spurs who had cut the Heat’s double-digit lead in half. Johnson finished with 17 points on 6-8 shooting and 4-4 from beyond the arc (including a spectacular long-range shot to end the third quarter) to go along with five assists and four rebounds. Had it been a regular season game, Erik Spoelstra would have no doubt featured Johnson for more than the 21 minutes he played.
Miami’s lead ballooned to 20 points at 83-63 on a Winslow three with 1:30 left in the third quarter, but the Spurs made it mildly interesting with 32 points in the final quarter to close the gap a bit.
The Heat face their first back-to-back set tonight when they play the Minnesota Timberwolves in Louisville at 7:30. This will be the second and final preseason game to not be televised.