Bam Adebayo against wolves

Takeaways from the Heat’s preseason opener and Bam Adebayo’s aggressiveness

October 5, 2022

The fact that Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, and Gabe Vincent will miss Tuesday’s game to rest was confirmed by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who noted that the preseason opener isn’t typically utilized as a dress rehearsal. The team will use all three players this season in Miami’s rotation. Oladipo and Vincent were also excluded from the intrasquad scrimmage during Monday night’s Red, White, and Pink Game, while Butler only participated in the first quarter.

The good news is that none of their absences appear to be due to injuries, except Vincent, who missed a training camp exercise last week due to a knee problem. Even though Oladipo has had two operations on his right knee in the past three years, Spoelstra insisted that there was no physical reason for the organization to keep him out of Monday’s practice and Tuesday’s preseason opener. 

In the days before the game on Tuesday, Spoelstra praised Oladipo, saying, “He had a tremendous camp, and the workload was quite considerable.” He has so been working in the background for the past two days. Before he goes out and competes, we want to give him a few days of relaxation.

Butler received the same preseason game exemption last year. Only two of the Heat’s six preseason games included him the previous year. The 36-year-old Heat starting point guard Kyle Lowry did compete on Tuesday. Before being given the rest of the game in the second half, he concluded the first game of the preseason with four points on 1-of-3 shooting from the field, three rebounds, and one assist in 16 minutes. 

The Heat’s preseason dress rehearsal is now a matter of when. Miami has two road back-to-backs against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday and the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday as its final two preseason games.

Butler’s absence allowed the Heat to spend more time on Tuesday utilizing its two-big lineup. 

In their first preseason game without Butler, the Heat started Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Omer Yurtseven, and Bam Adebayo

There are a few elements to this combo that are entirely useless:

  • Herro, who took home the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year honor last year, seems destined for a starting position this year. 
  • Martin still appears to be the favorite to start at power forward, whereas P.J., Before signing with the Philadelphia 76ers this summer, Tucker played last year. On Tuesday, Martin finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range, along with three rebounds, two assists, and one block. 

However, the frontcourt of Yurtseven and Adebayo is the most intriguing part of the Heat’s starting lineup to begin the preseason. 

Adebayo is guaranteed to start, whereas Yurtseven, who missed much of last season’s rotation, is merely vying for a position this year.

Adebayo (6-9, 255) and Yurtseven (6-11, 275) have a double-big look that continues to be intriguing and has generated some attention since training camp ended last week.

When they shared the court for 18 minutes last season, the Heat were outscored by 13 points, so Spoelstra was hesitant to use them together.

However, Spoelstra wasted no time putting the Adebayo-Yurtseven combination to the test during the preseason, as they played together for 20 minutes on Tuesday. During that span, the Heat was outscored 56-47.

Before being sent off in the opening contest of the preseason, Yurtseven, 24, ended the 11 points and nine rebounds in the 27 minutes.

One of the questions around the Adebayo-Yurtseven combination is how to generate space on the offensive end. Yurtseven needs to demonstrate his ability to make enough threes to do this. Tuesday’s Yurtseven deep shot performance was 1 of 3.

Defensively, there are concerns because the Timberwolves targeted Yurtseven’s defense and were successful in doing so.

With Adebayo and Yurtseven on the court, Spoelstra said of the Heat’s offensive spacing, “They’re working on it.” That is the reason we are taking so long. If they play together, they won’t play for this long time. We’ll work out that portion. However, that takes longer than some speed or space lineups. Because of this, we’re devoting time to it right now during preseason and training camp.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who was recovering from a sickness, and Rudy Gobert, who needed a break, couldn’t play on Tuesday.

The Heat wants Adebayo to play a more prominent scoring role this year and to be more proactive in his offense. He has a good preseason start thus far.

Adebayo’s aggressiveness was evident in his 25 minutes of play, during which he scored 22 points on 9 of 17 field goal attempts, one three-point attempt, three foul shots, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals before sitting out the fourth quarter.

Adebayo made six shots in the third quarter alone and scored nine points.

Adebayo concluded Tuesday’s defeat with a rate of 24 shot attempts per 36 minutes, which is a small sample size. Last season, he took 14.4 shots every 36 minutes on average.

We require assertiveness, added Spoelstra.

Adebayo’s ability to start including the three-point shot in his offensive repertoire has been another concern surrounding his game heading into this season. He made the game’s lone three-point attempt first preseason game on a catch-and-shoot opportunity with 2:25 left in the third quarter after making three threes in Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage.

In the previous regular season, Adebayo shot 0 of 6 from beyond the arc.

The Heat had a minor injury scare in the first preseason game.

Early in the third quarter, Herro collided with Timberwolves player Jaden McDaniels as he attempted to dribble past his defender. Herro walked over to the court and held his right knee, clearly in pain.

Heat coaches and trainers walked outside to see how Herro was doing. The scare, however, was just momentary because Herro could recover and proceed to the bench on his own.

After the incident, Herro remarked, “I knew I hit knees.” Just a little bit more than usual, it hurt. But I was aware that I had only kneeled. So there was a scare, but I immediately assured Spo that I was okay.

Herro, who agreed on Sunday to a four-year agreement with the Heat worth between $120 million and $130 million, continued to play. In 26 minutes, he ended with 22 points on 7 of 14 field goal attempts, two three-pointers (of five attempted), six free throw attempts, six rebounds, and four assists.

It was challenging to accurately predict the Heat’s rotation in the first preseason game because three expected starters could not play.

The Heat started the game with a 10-man rotation as Butler, Vincent, and Oladipo sat out.

Max Strus, Dewayne Dedmon, Haywood Highsmith, Duncan Robinson, and Marcus Garrett were the first five players used off the bench in place of Lowry, Herro, Martin, Yurtseven, and Adebayo.

With 17 players available on Tuesday, only Nikola Jovic, Darius Days, Udonis Haslem, Jamaree Bouyea, Jamal Cain, Orlando Robinson, and Dru Smith were not among the first 10. Three rotation players were also absent.

Smith, Orlando Robinson, Jovic, and Cain were the fourth and fifth players to join the first preseason game.

With 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jovic, who the Heat acquired with the No. 27 selection in this year’s draft, entered the game for the first time. In his brief playing time, the 19-year-old scored five points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 shooting from beyond the arc.

The only Heat players available but did not play on Tuesday were Bouyea, Haslem, and Days.