Latest Headlines

Heat bracing for Knicks’ Randle after his 57 Monday (he had 43 last time in Miami)

Even if Julius Randle wasn’t coming off Monday night’s 57 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Miami Heat were still aware of the challenge ahead.

That’s because the last time the Heat faced the New York Knicks, Randle went off for 43 points, including the winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds to play, on March 3 at Miami-Dade Arena.

Wednesday night, the teams meet again at Miami-Dade Arena, with the Heat still having a shot to pass the No. 5 Knicks in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

“Randle’s having a fantastic year,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Tuesday’s practice. “We know that we’re going to have to have our defense in order, the way we’re capable of. It was so competitive our last game here in Miami.”

The initial challenge likely again will fall to Heat center Bam Adebayo.

“I wasn’t guarding him last night, so I don’t know what happened,” Adebayo said of Randle’s Monday effort against the Timberwolves. “But for what he did when he was here, he made tough shots. We’re in the NBA for a reason. The only thing you can do is make guys make tough shots. Sometimes the guys make the tough shots. He did that versus us.”

Randle shot 16 of 25 the last time the teams met, including 8 of 13 on 3-pointers. Monday against Minnesota, he went 19 of 29, including 8 of 14 on 3-pointers.

That could mean Adebayo having to remain on the perimeter, limiting the help he typically offers.

“There’s no absolutes, because they’re also not just a one-player dominant team,” Spoelstra said. “[Jalen] Brunson obviously is a big factor. R.J. Barrett can go off at any time. And their role players have really fit what they do. So your team defense has to be great.

READ MORE:  Dear Abby: Florida depresses me, but my husband has no sympathy

“You’ve got to just make it tough on the Knicks on every single possession. They’re going to hit some tough ones, and then we’ve got to win a lot more of the possessions, as well. These are the type of challenges our guys typically respond to.”

Spoelstra stopped, paused, smiled, and added. “And it’s always good when there’s some kind of meaning or context or consequences with the Heat and Knicks. That’s always good for the league and it’s good for the two franchises.”

Waiting game?

Spoelstra took a particularly unusual approach with point guard Kyle Lowry in Sunday night’s victory in Detroit, with 12 minutes of Lowry’s 25:22 coming in the fourth quarter.

Spoelstra said Tuesday it is not a case of saving the veteran point guard for the final period, as Lowry, 37, remains under somewhat of a minutes watch in his return the past two weeks from 15 games out due to knee soreness.

“No, I’m not going to play him only in the second half or only in the fourth quarter,” Spoelstra said. “We’re still trying to figure this out. I was in the right vicinity of his minutes [in Detroit]. Playing him 12 straight minutes, the game kind of allowed that.”

Spoelstra said lengthy breaks in the final period, including timeouts, afforded the luxury of Lowry playing those 12 consecutive minutes.

“If it was a different kind of flow of the game,” Spoelstra said. “I would have probably taken him out. We’ll see. Each game will be different.

“I like the plan, and the communication has been great between the medical staff, training staff, Kyle and myself. We’ll continue to figure this out.”

READ MORE:  4 matters we learned at Chicago Bears training camp, including a tampering reminder on Roquan Smith and a new placement for Teven Jenkins

The Heat have the advantage with Lowry of two-day breaks before each of their next three games.

Zeller out

Veteran backup center Cody Zeller will miss his fifth consecutive game Wednesday due to the broken nose sustained in the March 11 overtime road loss to the Orlando Magic.

“The swelling needs to come down,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t have a timetable on that. He won’t play tomorrow night. We have a few days before the Brooklyn game [Saturday], but it could be too early to determine. His body will let him know.”

The Heat have been utilizing second-year Omer Yuertseven only for brief stints in Zeller’s absence, including just a single stint of 3:42 in Sunday’s victory in Detroit.

The Heat now have another option available, with undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson back with the team at Tuesday’s practice after a stint in the G League. On a two-way contract, Robinson is eligible to be on the Heat’s active roster four times over the team’s final nine games.


Related Articles

Back to top button