The final game of the 2021-22 NBA regular season for the Miami Heat had more of a preseason feel to it, but with the No. 1 seed in the East locked up days ago it was a meaningless game. Miami lost to the Orlando Magic 125-111 on the road Sunday night, but it ended on a high note regardless of the outcome at the end of an incredible season in which no one had them pegged as the team to beat in the East.
The game itself was highlighted by another uplifting performance from Victor Oladipo, who was spectacular with 40 points (13-22 FGs, 5-11 3-pt FGs), 10 rebounds and seven assists in 36 minutes. In his eighth game of the season and in his first start, he had already scored a season-high 25 points by the half on 9-13 FG shooting. Yes, it came against a shorthanded lottery-bound team but he was able to hit difficult shots and he looks increasingly comfortable and quick when he’s cutting to the rim and breaking down the defense to get his own shot or rack up an assist.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra trotted out a new starting lineup featuring Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, a pair of two-way players and a dusted-off Omer Yurtseven. None other than veteran Udonis Haslem came off the bench soon after, with just Gabe Vincent and Javonte Smart — who finished second on the team with an impressive 20 points on 8-14 FGs — the only other reserves to see action.
Orlando led most of the way, shooting almost 50% from the field for the night and led by 21 points apiece from Mo Bamba and RJ Hampton.
Besides the formality of finishing out the regular season, today’s bigger news was Bam Adebayo entering the NBA’s Covid protocols — though he is expected to rejoin the team in time for the start of the playoffs. In his place, Yurtseven uncharacteristically struggled from the field going 3-14 but he did pull down 10 rebounds and he stayed out of foul trouble with just one in 36 minutes.
More puzzling are the frequent up-and-down performances from Duncan Robinson, who once again failed to make much of an impact in a game where there were plenty of opportunities against a weaker team.
All the while, Miami’s regular rotation players rested and can sit back while the play-in tournament gears up next that will determine their first round opponent. Until then, it’s time to recuperate, prepare and get ready for a deep playoff run no matter which team it is.