Observations and other notes of interest from Wednesday night’s 104-100 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers:
– As the turnovers multiplied, up to 20 through three quarters, it became apparent the Heat need a settling force.
– Something more than Gabe Vincent.
– Something less erratic than Victor Oladipo.
– All signs point to Kyle Lowry returning possibly as soon as this weekend.
– The Heat not only need Lowry to be good.
– They need him to be everything they sought when he was added in the 2021 offseason.
– Because this against the Cavaliers was nothing short of helter skelter.
– Yes, Lowry has been out more than a month, so perhaps expectations should be tempered.
– But perhaps the month off will deliver a rested player, capable of providing a settling force.
– This appeared to be a season that would not offer Lowry a second chance.
– That opportunity yet could be at hand.
– Kevin Love was back after missing Monday’s game with a bruised rib, and back in the starting lineup.
– “He’s been a great fit,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s a short period of time, but he really complements that starting group. And it was a position of need for us. That was not an indictment on anything that happened in Cleveland. He had a tremendous year last year.”
– Spoelstra added, “But for us, so much of this league is about fit. And for our starting group, he’s a big-time fit.”
– That he did, with eight points and eight rebounds through three quarters.
– The other four starters remained Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Vincent.
– Max Strus had started in place of Love on Monday night.
– Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised Love pregame over Love’s closing time in Cleveland including stepping aside to allow the team’s emerging young players to thrive.
– “He gave me an opportunity to coach people differently because he was willing to sacrifice so much, so I could hold everybody to the same standard.,” Bickerstaff said.
– Cody Zeller and Oladipo again entered as the Heat’s first two reserves.
– Zeller entered after Adebayo was called for his second foul with 4:51 left in the opening period.
– Strus and Caleb Martin followed.
– Even when Love was out, Martin remained a Heat reserve, with Martin emerging as a fourth-quarter staple.
– “I tell our guys all the time, make us have to play you,” Spoelstra said of Martin. “Impact the game so much where we can’t take you out of the game and he’s living and breathing that right now.”
– With Love back in the mix, Duncan Robinson again was shuffled out of the mix, after a solid contribution to Monday’s victory.
– Lowry, who last played Feb. 2, went through a pregame session on the main court.
– “He’s making great progress,” Spoelstra said.
– Spoelstra was effusive in his pregame praise for the Cavaliers’ defense.
– “It’s legit,” he said. “They’ve earned that number-one spot right now. It’s something that we’ve been trying to get to. They’ve probably been the most consistent defensive team all year long.”
– Spoelstra added, “They do a tremendous job protecting the paint, eliminating easy baskets at the rim. They have length. They’re well coached.”
– Love’s first offensive rebound moved him past LaSalle Thompson for 84th on the NBA all-time list.
– Butler’s eighth free-throw attempt moved him past Bob Lanier for 92nd on the NBA all-time list.
– Herro’s 20th point was the 4,000th of his regular-season career.