Erik Spoelstra’s surprising decision to move Tyler Herro to the bench sent shockwaves around South Beach. It also sent a pretty important message to the rest of the Miami Heat squad: winning is the top priority.
“By any means necessary right now” had been a rallying cry for Spoelstra back in late January when the Heat was down several players due to COVID-19 protocols. The team was just trying to survive, fight another day and get healthy. He has tinkered with the starting lineup all year and tells reporters not to read too much into who starts and who comes off the bench. Still, it raised eyebrows to see one of the NBA’s most promising young guards on the pine.
Herro was replaced by Goran Dragic in the starting lineup on Feb. 5, then watched Kendrick Nunn start back-to-back games on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9. The 21-year-old doesn’t care as long he’s in there late with the game hanging in the balance. On Tuesday night, Herro drilled a 26-footer from deep to put the Heat up 97-94 with 1:04 left in the fourth quarter. Closers close.
“Coach had me in to impact the game in a winning way, and the ball came to me and, you know, I’m going to shoot until the game’s over,” Herro told reporters. “We were trying to get over that hump early on, with a lot of moving parts. We felt like we were getting better and now we’re really starting to finish games in the fourth quarter and we just got to continue to build on that.”
Jimmy Butler was the one who dished it to Herro for the dagger, too. The All-Star forward never doubted the kid from Kentucky.
“I have so much confidence in him,” Butler said of Herro. “Always have, always will. I trust him when the game is on the line or not on the line.”
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Herro Making Huge Impact Off the Bench
Spoelstra stuck with the same starting lineup in back-to-back games: Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo. The Heat have notched three straight victories and seem to have found some instant chemistry with Herro coming off the bench. He’s averaging 16 points in 32.3 minutes per game since the move.
“It is not an indictment on anyone,” Spoelstra said. “We are just trying to stabilize this as much as we can. [Herro] is going to play starters’ minutes regardless. He just has to manage whatever the narratives are out there.”
Remember, Herro served in a reserve role during his rookie campaign when he averaged 13.5 points in 27.4 minutes per game. He’s not averse to doing whatever it takes to win basketball games.
“I played a whole year off the bench, you know, last year,” Herro said. “When you’re losing at this point, it’s just, ‘Am I doing whatever works for the team?’ I hate losing and everyone in this organization hates losing, so the move to the bench wasn’t hard for me. I’ll do whatever I need to do to help this team win.”
Cutting Down Turnovers Reason for Turnaround
The Heat have ranked among the league’s worst teams in turnovers all year and remain dead last at 16.6 per game. But Miami only coughed it up 11 times on Tuesday and 11 times on Sunday. It has been the biggest reason for their early-season struggles, according to Adebayo.
“If you turn the ball over, you can’t get good offense,” Adebayo said. “They just get easy baskets in transition. We just got to keep chipping away to become a perfect team to where we can play a full 48 minutes of Heat basketball, the right way.”
Of course, it hasn’t hurt the Heat to get Butler back. He scored a game-high 26 points on Tuesday night and Miami outscored New York by 25 points with their leader on the floor.
“It will always be different when he is on the court than off the court,” Adebayo said. “He is Jimmy Butler for a reason.”