Shortly before the Miami Heat’s preseason debut against the Atlanta Hawks, the team announced that Jimmy Butler would have the night off to rest. (Monday marked the one-year anniversary of his 40-point triple double in the NBA Finals.)
The Heat still scored 74 points in the first half.
Tyler Herro, who started Monday night in place of Butler, went on a scoring binge in the first quarter to lead the Heat over the Atlanta Hawks, 125-99. Herro made everything Heat fans hope he does consistently as the sixth man on this team — floaters, step-back jumpers and 3-pointers. After a shaky sophomore season, it was great to see Herro look like a full off-season has done him well.
Kyle Lowry made his debut in a Heat uniform and knocked down an early 3-pointer. With Lowry at the helm of the offense, Miami pushed the ball in transition and had crisp ball movement.
In just 14 minutes — he sat the entire second half — Lowry dished out seven assists with just one turnover. His best dime came midway through the second quarter, when he threw a lob that Bam Adebayo caught with his back turned to the basket for a reverse jam.
In addition to Lowry, Adebayo and P.J. Tucker sat the entire second half. Tucker, though, had an injury listed for his absence — a right groin strain. Hopefully Miami held him out as a precaution, and it’s not an early sign of an injury-riddled season for the 36-year-old veteran.
Though he went scoreless through the first quarter, Duncan Robinson made two 3s to close the first half and made another one early in the third quarter. The shooting specialist even made a nice recovery to block John Collins at the rim, showing how his game has grown over the past two seasons.
Another player who made a nice block on a recovery was Caleb Martin, who is on a two-way contract with the Heat. Butler’s absence opened up an extra spot in the first-half rotation for Erik Spoelstra. As I said earlier, the Heat’s backup wing spot could go to Max Strus or Martin this year. On this play, his block leads to a nice Dewayne Dedmon dunk in transition.
Martin, by the way, had five stitches to close a laceration to the head he sustained in the second quarter. He returned and had a nice and-one and another block in the fourth quarter. Strus made four 3-pointers on the night, making a case for himself to stay in the rotation.
KZ Okpala entered as the 11th man and promptly made two 3-pointers. Omer Yurtseven grabbed eight rebounds in just 14 minutes.
The Heat will next visit the Houston Rockets at 10 p.m. for their second exhibition game.