Jimmy Butler is fond of saying that you can throw any lineup out there and the Miami Heat will adapt and win. Well, it took six different cracks at a starting five but it looks like this one might stick. Maybe, for now.
The Heat (3-3) blew the Oklahoma City Thunder out of the gym on Monday night 118-90 after shooting a fiery 56.8% from the field and tying a season high with 16 three-pointers. Head coach Erik Spoelstra decided to swap Kelly Olynyk for Andre Iguodala to start the game and it proved genius. It marked their sixth different lineup.
“I think the starting lineup is is overstated in so many ways,” Spoelstra said. “The more important thing is us building consistency to how we want to play.”
Olynyk scored 19 points and grabbed eight boards, helping to ignite the entire Heat offense. He played a flawless two-man game with Bam Odebayo, hustling up and down the court all night. And Iguodala played his part to perfection in scoring nine points in 15 minutes off the bench.
“There’s a great deal of continuity there,” Spoelstra said of Olynyk and Adebayo. “The two of them, they really have great chemistry but that group, you know, has been together before. Whether they started together is irrelevant.”
The whole squad was glowing — maybe it had as much to do with their neon ViceVersa jerseys — and out-scored the Thunder 52-28 in the paint. Adebayo put up 20 points and grabbed eight boards while unleashing an angry poster dunk on the Thunder’s Mike Muscala. The blowout win also marked a return to form for Butler who scored 18 points and handed out six assists. More importantly, his right ankle looked stable.
“I like any lineup we put out there,” Butler said. “Whoever Coach Spo puts out there, we got to go get the job done. We just got to do it everyday from here on out.”
The Heat went on a 26-3 run at one point in the second half to put it out of reach. They also limited their turnovers to 14, down from the their league-worst 19.8 per game.
“Basketball is something, it’s not something you conquer it … you just have to continue to work on things that help you be successful,” said Spoelstra. “Competition gives you different challenges and you just continue to get better as the season goes on.”
Adebayo Makes Heat History in Victory
In addition to making the highlight-reel dunk, Adebayo added his name to some impressive company on Monday night by becoming just the fourth Heat player to have multiple games shooting 9-for-10 or better from the field. The 6-foot-9 center joined Hassan Whiteside, Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem as the only other player to accomplish the feat.
“It was just one of those games where rolling was important so that was my emphasis today,” Adebayo told reporters after the game. “You know, just get to the rim and try and make the defense cave in and they didn’t, and so it was ‘Lob City’ today.”
Next Up, Boston Celtics in Playoff Rematch
Miami will host the Boston Celtics (5-3) on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena as they look to make it two wins in a row. Remember, the fifth-seeded Heat upset the third-seeded Celtics during the recent Eastern Conference Finals in six games so there’s bound to be a revenge factor on the line.
Boston looked impressive on Monday night in defeating the Toronto Raptors 126-114 on the road. Jayson Tatum went off for 40 points in that one, with Jaylen Brown adding 19 points and Payton Pritchard scoring 23 points. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 6.