Three things to know: Heat remind everyone why they are a tough out
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1) Heat remind everyone why they are a tough out in win over Suns
All season long, the Miami defense has struggled when Bam Adebayo sits — coming into Monday the Heat had a 95.8 defensive rating when Adebayo is on the court, but it jumped to 139.4 when he sat. The Miami offense was the same with Jimmy Butler: a 147.6 offensive rating when Butler was playing and a 95.1 rating when he sat.
Monday night against the Suns, Butler and Adebayo switched roles — and reminded the East why the Miami Heat are always a tough out come the playoffs. And why they can be more.
Adebayo finished with 30 points, dominating the paint and sparking a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter.
While it was Butler making the defensive stand of the season to save the game.
Miami’s 113-112 win at home moved the Heat to .500 on the season. They have won three in a row and 5-of-7 after a slow start.
That Heat’s slow start had some discussing what moves Pat Riley and the front office should make, and what shakeups needed to happen to fix a broken team. While there are questions, the Heat trusted things would come around. The Heat just needed what they got on Monday night: Caleb Martin to find his grove (he knocked down five 3-pointers); solid play out of Dewayne Deadmon (12 points on 5-of-7 shooting) and Gabe Vincent (10 points) off the bench).
It was a physical, gritty win for Miami, a team in many ways better built for the 16-games of the playoffs than the 82 of the regular season. There are still questions to answer, including if Martin is the man at the four the Heat want to ride into the playoffs, and how they will deal with traditional big men inside (Deandre Ayton had 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting plus 12 boards on Monday). But they will be a tough out, and with a few breaks can be more than that, even in a deeper East.
The Suns got 25 from Devin Booker, who was his usual smooth self hitting 11-of-22 shots.
2) Warriors get win back at home behind 36 from Jordan Poole
It was Jordan Poole bobblehead night at Chase Arena — that seemed to motivate a Poole party on the court.
Starting in place of Klay Thompson on a back-to-back (“right Achilles injury management” officially), Poole scored a season-high 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting with five 3-pointers and sparked the Warriors to a comfortable win at home, 132-95 over the Spurs.
The Warriors looked comfortable back home (they are 0-7 on the road this season) and played their most complete game of the season. Stephen Curry had 16 points, but this was the kind of blowout win that means big minutes for guys who need the run like Jonathan Kuminga (25 minutes, 15 points) and Anthony Lamb (17 points on 6-of-7 shooting).
Two other Warriors notes. First, after the game, coach Steve Kerr said James Wiseman would be sent down to the G-League to get some reps since he is out of the Warriors rotation right now but needs the run.
Second, Donte Divincenzo was ejected from the game for a blow to the head of Josh Richardson on this play.
It deserves a flagrant, but the Warriors thought the ejection was over the top. I’m not sure it was intentional, but the officials do not mess around with blows to the head.
3) Hornets have LaMelo Ball back, end their eight-game losing streak
LaMelo Ball is still finding his rhythm. In just his second game this season (back from a sprained ankle), he scored 17 points but shot 6-of-19 to get there.
However, his nine assists — and the improved ball movement that led to seven Hornets being in double figures scoring — sparked Charlotte to a 112-105 win over the Magic that ended the Hornets’ eight-game losing streak.
The game is just more fun with LaMelo back on the court, plus the Hornets might pick up a few more wins after a rough start.
The game is also more fun with Bol Bol playing like this for the Orlando Magic.