Overview and other notes of interest from Thursday night’s 99-90 NBA playoff win over the Philadelphia 76ers:
– It didn’t work on the previous stops because Jimmy Butler was so strong-willed.
– It’s working for Heat for the same reason.
– Scoreless second period?
– increased appetite only in the third.
– And to do it here, in this building, to close the 76ers?
– All the more satisfying.
– Against the team that chose to invest their future in Ben Simmons.
– Joe turned into James Harden.
– Who has now left for Cancun.
— so looking at their druther, probably the preferred opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals would be Milwaukee.
— if only to erase the memory of the horror show from its first round in last season’s opening-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks.
– That’s why the Heat decided to build the post-Dwayne Wade era around Butler.
— and why that massive expansion last summer, which happens through his 36th birthday.
– Sure he’s crazy.
– But he’s crazy about the heat.
— and, no, it wasn’t about Danny Green losing the first quarter.
— or Joel Embiid being hobbled and masked.
– Better during the regular season.
– Better during the playoffs.
– The series had to be called off all the time in the injured absence of Kyle Lowry.
– Gabe Vincent lined up again with the Heat’s starter, which, at this point, almost seems like expected.
– With the Heat now 6-0 with him as a playoff starter.
– One year removed from the two-way contract.
– Otherwise, regular starters of Butler, Bam Adebayo, PJ Tucker and Max Strauss.
— and, yes, another night where Adebayo’s play surpassed the boxscore.
– With the start, Butler tied PJ Brown and Jamal Mashburn in 10th place on the Heat all-time playoff list. This put him behind Rick Mahhorn in 84th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff list.
– With his appearance, Adabio tied Tim Hardaway in 15th place on the Heat all-time playoff-games list at 39.
– Dwayne Deadmon played as the Heat’s first reserve.
– Then Tyler Harrow.
– Followed by Victor Oladipo.
– And then Caleb Martin.
– Duncan Robinson enters the start of the second period to make it 10 deep.
– After Adebayo was called up for his second foul at the start of the second period, the Heat left with an all-reserve unit of Deadmon, Martin, Robinson, Herro and Oladipo.
Robinson’s run was limited.
– Eric Spoelstra didn’t dare use him defensively against James Harden.
– Butler’s 17th point propelled Mark Aguirre to 85th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list, while his 22nd point moved him to 84th place behind Joe Dumar.
– Butler’s first 3-pointer propelled him to 85th place on the all-time NBA playoff list ahead of Tony Kukoc.
– Butler’s second free throw propelled Allen Iverson to 57th place on the all-time NBA playoff list.
– Butler’s third defensive rebound was the 400th of his playoff career.
– Butler’s fourth attempt at a free throw saw him surpass Carmelo Anthony and Ray Allen to reach 62nd place on the NBA’s all-time playoff list.
– With his first steal, the Harrows tied Josh Richardson, Joel Anthony, and Shaquille O’Neill in 25th place on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Strauss’s third 3-pointer saw him surpass Jason Williams in 23rd on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Herro’s second rebound propelled him to 14th place on the Heat all-time playoff list, overtaking Jamal Mashburn.
– Tucker’s second 3-point effort propelled him to 79th place on the NBA playoff list, beating Michael Cooper and Tony Kukoc.
– Adebayo’s second steal saw him finish 10th on the all-time Heat playoff list behind Alonzo Sorrow.
– Spoelstra talks about the unique traps and double-teams that Hero faced against the 76ers in the morning’s shootaround.
– “It’s one of those discussions I had with him on the playoffs,” Spoelstra said. “One game doesn’t necessarily lead to the next. You just have to find a way to make your mark in order to be able to help the team win. And he’s looking for ways to do that. Maybe it’s Don’t be exactly what everyone wants to be seen.”
– Spoelstra said, “I think all his experience now is really helping him understand what it takes to effect a win in the playoffs.”
– Spoelstra on Playoff Butler, “Jimmy has always been there for us in the playoffs, whatever is necessary, and it can be different game to game.”
– Spoelstra explicitly made pre-game that the series, in his view, was never about Adebayo versus Joel Embiid in one-on-one words.
– “He’s definitely not going to get caught up on the face-to-face story about it,” he said.
– Hero said he appreciated the challenge.
– “Getting repetition, I think that’s the biggest thing, just watching myself fight double-teams and blitz and things like that,” he said.
– The 76ers went down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season on Thursday. In the last two cases, they won Game 6 and then lost in Game 7.
– The game was preceded by a moment of silence for the passing of NBA legend Bob Lanier.