The Sacramento Kings scored the first six points of the contest against the Miami Heat. The rest of the game went about the way anyone would expect of a team 21 games under .500 against a team 19 games above .500.
Yes, the Heat quickly took control of the game and build a lead that crested at 26, improving to 48-28 on the season. Miami snapped their four-game losing streak and moved back into first place in the East thanks to the Toronto Raptors’ win over the Boston Celtics Monday night. In fact, someone looking at this Heat team for the first time in two weeks wouldn’t have known about all the turmoil this team has gone through over the last week.
Jimmy Butler led Miami with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, including three made 3-pointers in the third quarter. The six-time All-Star also dished out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds. If Butler can be just a passable 3-point shooter — as he was before he came to Miami and as he was during the 2020 playoffs — he opens up the Heat offense.
Jimmy Buckets 3/3 on triples tonight pic.twitter.com/XLIO1UZ4Ua— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 29, 2022
Erik Spoelstra made several rotation shifts for this game. First, he swapped Max Strus in for Duncan Robinson in the starting lineup. (Monday is Strus’ 26th birthday.) He also did not play Victor Oladipo or Markieff Morris Monday night, who have both tried to shoehorn themselves into the rotation late in the season. Caleb Martin, the usual backup power forward, was out, but Spoelstra didn’t even use Morris to replace Martin.
Spoelstra also substituted Butler out midway through the first and third quarters. Previously, Kyle Lowry would sub out early, and Butler would play until the closing minutes of the first or third. This move allowed a fresh Butler to be on the court to start the second and fourth quarters, flanked by reserves Tyler Herro and Robinson for spacing. Throughout this season, opposing teams have gone on runs to start the fourth quarter while Butler rested on the bench.
It all looked good Monday night. Kyle Lowry made three 3s and had six assists in just 26 minutes of action. Herro was back to his usual self — scoring from 3, mid-range and around the rim and finding teammates for open looks. Robinson made five 3s. The Heat as a whole shot 19-of-40 from beyond the arc. Of course, it’s the Kings. But this team needed a win to get back on track.
Tyler sent the defender flying and got one of the easiest buckets of his life pic.twitter.com/6X7JRp79Qe— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 29, 2022
Monday night also marked a strong Bam Adebayo game. The two-time All-NBA Defensive Team player finished with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, 15 rebounds, two steals and a block. He was active around the rim and dynamic on defense. He did what he’s supposed to do as a max player.
double double at the break— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 29, 2022
12 points, 11 rebounds so far for Bam pic.twitter.com/iuLlz5FcGu
Udonis Haslem also checked into the game for the final 2:28 and scored a bucket and grabbed a rebound.
The Heat will travel to Boston to face the Celtics for a big matchup Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.