It may not be the regular season quite yet, but the 2022-23 season still tipped off for the Miami Heat Tuesday night, squaring off with the Minnesota Timberwolves at home inside FTX Arena to kickstart their five-game preseason slate.
The Wolves downed Miami, however, 121-111, led by a 24-point outing from Wolves star Anthony Edwards on 9-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range. Results in preseason don’t matter though, right? Right?!?
Regardless, both sides had key rotation players out; Jimmy Butler, Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo (all rest) were inactive for Miami, while Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns were out for the Wolves.
Kyle Lowry started the game but did not play the entire first half, finishing with four points, three rebounds and an assist on just three shots. With Butler out, it allowed Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro — yes, he started — to flourish.
Adebayo might’ve had the highlight(s) of the night, draining a catch-and-shoot 3 midway through the third quarter followed by excellent defense and a lob conversion the next offensive possession.
BAMONT3 pic.twitter.com/hPjZyf7X2F— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 5, 2022
ON YA HEAD pic.twitter.com/6pvIVVVtC9— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 5, 2022
He ultimately finished with 22 points — tying a team high — with six boards, two assists and two steals, shooting 9-of-17 in 25 minutes. Herro tied him with 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting — including 2-of-5 from distance and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line — though his most promising development was his defense, specifically off-the-ball. Herro continuously got his hand into passing lanes, creating multiple deflections and making it difficult for the Wolves to make extra passes along the perimeter.
In addition to his scoring, the 22-year-old guard had six boards, four assists — tying a team high — and one steal in 26 minutes. Only Omer Yurtseven — who fouled out with over nine minutes left in the final quarter — played more than 26 minutes (27). He finished with 11 points and nine boards, knocking down five of his 12 attempts; the Yurtseven-Adebayo worked adequately when they were on the floor together, though Yurtseven still had some difficulty keeping up defensively, which led to the six fouls.
Caleb Martin cracked the starting lineup alongside Herro-Lowry-Adebayo-Yurtseven Tuesday, showcasing visibly quicker and cleaner shooting form. As a result, he knocked down five of his eight shots, including two 3s, for 12 points, in addition to three rebounds and two assists. Haywood Highsmith impressed off the bench, tallying seven points, eight rebounds (four offensive) on 3-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes.
Miami’s sharpshooters Max Strus and Duncan Robinson never got going, combining to go 0-for-10 from beyond the arc. As a team, the Heat shot 42.9 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from 3-point range (10-35); Minnesota shot 51.2 percent, sporting a 39.4 3-point percentage (13-33) while netting 26-of-35 from the free-throw line.
When Erik Spoelstra ripped the Heat starters from the lineup deep in the second, they saw abbreviated stints from Orlando Robinson, Dru Smith and Nikola Jovic, who dazzled on both sides of the hardwood for his six minutes of action.
Monday looked visibly like a preseason game for both teams, and the Heat experimented with a few different things (Bam-Yurt pairing; Martin playing the 4; Highsmith/Marcus Garrett getting extended minutes) — but isn’t it good to have Heat basketball back in general? It sure was for everyone here at HHH, and hopefully it was for you too.