After rolling out his sixth starting lineup in as many games, Erik Spoelstra may have found the one that works.
Spoelstra slotted Kelly Olynyk into the frontcourt position next to Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler — as I suggested — and it helped lead to a 118-90 Miami Heat blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Heat led the game the entire way, with the exception of a brief moment at the beginning of the second quarter. Miami went on an incredible 20-0 run in the third quarter to break the game open — one that featured three Kelly Olynyk 3-pointers and another cutting layup from the new starting forward.
Olynyk finished the night with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field including five 3-pointers and eight rebounds.
Of course, that wasn’t the only thing that changed from Miami’s uneven play to start the 2020-21 season. Jimmy Butler turned back into himself. The Heat ran a nice back-screen for him on their very first possession to get him an open layup. From there, Butler catalyzed the Heat offense. He shot 6-for-12 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line for 18 points and added six assists in just 25 minutes of action.
Adebayo led Miami with 20 points on a nearly perfect 9-of-10 shooting from the field, including a plethora of dunks. But the Heat’s fourth-year center also made a number of nice mid-range jumpers, including one at the end of the shot clock early in the third quarter. That moment was reminiscent of Chris Bosh, who could make a contested jumper to bail out a possession. Adebayo’s best play came early in the fourth, when Goran Dragic set him up for an alley-oop dunk over Mike Muscala.
Don't get in Bam's way pic.twitter.com/aosdn1m9xX— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 5, 2021
For his part, Dragic continued his strong play to start the season. The veteran point guard again steered Miami’s second unit and chipped in seven assists and seven points in 22 minutes of action.
Tyler Herro added nine rebounds, eight assists and nine points on the night. At the end of the second quarter, Herro followed up a missed 13-foot floater with a steal as the Thunder brought the ball up-court. Butler found him for a layup to put the Heat up 63-49 heading into the locker room. Although he shot just 1-for-5 from 3, plays like that make Herro valuable.
Duncan Robinson knocked down four 3-pointers, all of which came in the first half. Andre Iguodala made three 3-pointers, always a nice boost. Avery Bradley again put in a productive night on both ends of the court, scoring eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field.
Although Precious Achiuwa continued to show rookie moments — he fouled Muscala for a four-point play and then threw the ball away on the in-bounds pass to end the first quarter — he again showed energy with seven rebounds. He also showed good potential as a switchable big on defense.
In garbage time, Kendrick Nunn showed some nice touch with his mid-range jumper. He finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting. Moe Harkless and KZ Okpala each missed a pair of free throws, though.
The Heat will host the Boston Celtics in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.