Spoelstra gives credit to Herro, Adebayo and Tucker after gritty Game 1 win

By Sports Desk May 02, 2022

On a night where star Jimmy Butler did not have his best showing, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was full of praise for his supporting cast in their 106-92 Game 1 win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler finished five-of-16 from the field for his 15 points, and did not play at all in the fourth quarter as the Heat extended their lead without him.

Young duo Bam Adebayo (24 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) and Tyler Herro (25 points and seven assists) picked up the slack, while P.J. Tucker grinded out 29 tough minutes for 10 points and seven rebounds while spending long stretches on Philadelphia's James Harden.

Speaking with post-game media, Spoelstra said he was not shaken by the 76ers leading at half-time, and he knew Herro's next big performance was just around the corner.

"First of all, 48-minute games are long, and they're a very good team, even without Embiid," he said. "You get a double-digit lead in this league, and in the playoffs, they can disappear like that.

"I think it was just a matter of time before [Herro] was going to get into his rhythm. He's a great player, and he's so skilled. 

"It is just a matter of time, and sometimes you miss shots, [but] I thought in the Atlanta series he was playing good basketball. He just wasn't making some of the shots we're used to seeing him make, then everyone jumps to conclusions about that – but he was playing winning basketball.

"The plays in between – they weren't necessarily play-calls – but it was the plays in between that he was able to be super efficient in. He's a big-time 'X-factor' for us offensively when he's in that rhythm."

Spoelstra then shifted his attention to his starting big-men.

"Those inspiring offensive rebounds, and extra possessions, and extra efforts kind of ignited the whole team," he said. "That was P.J. [Tucker] and Bam [Adebayo] – both of those guys were terrific.

"Defensively we really picked up the intensity, but we did it with a bit more thought and discipline. 

"On both ends of the court, [Adebayo] was so critical. In that second half, whether it was zone or man [defence], he was able to find those open gaps in the paint.

"It wasn't as if we were running specific plays for him, it was just his activity, and his relentlessness, and his assertiveness. Our guys were finding him in the paint, and when the ball was up there he was going after it.

"You can't put an analytic to it – I literally don't know what [Tucker's] stats were – but he has those momentum-shifting plays. These timely, winning plays – and he has a way of doing things that just inspires your whole team. 

"[Tucker] was tremendous on both ends of the court, and that's what winning basketball is meant to look like. He's our best communicator… and he's such an underrated, high-IQ offensive player."

The Heat looked to figure out their opponents in the second half, outscoring the 76ers 56-41 over the last two quarters, but Spoelstra said he knows there is a long series ahead, with plenty of adjustments coming from both sides.

"Doc [Rivers] is a great coach, a brilliant mind," he said. "He'll come up with something, and we'll try to make our adjustments. 

"Even without Embiid, they have some great firepower. Harden creates a lot of things you have to be ultra on-edge about, Maxey has just continued to improve, and Harris was killing us tonight."

Related items

  • Wembanyama named NBA Rookie of Year Wembanyama named NBA Rookie of Year

    San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama capped a historic NBA season debut by being unanimously named the league's Rookie of the Year on Monday.

    Wembanyama received all 99 first-place votes from selected media members to become the first player to unanimously win the award since Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015-16.

    The heralded 20-year-old joins Spurs legends David Robertson (1989-90) and Tim Duncan (1997-98) as the franchise's Rookie of the Year recipients. Wembanyama is also the first player from France to earn the honour in the award's history.

    Oklahoma City center Chet Holmgren was a near-unanimous choice for runner-up, as he was named second on 98 of the 99 ballots. Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller finished third in voting, followed by Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski and Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II.

    Touted as perhaps the NBA's best prospect since LeBron James in 2003, Wembanyama lived up to his substantial hype by becoming the first player in league history with at least 1,500 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 blocks and 100 3-pointers made in a season. The 7-foot-4 phenom led the league in blocks (254) and blocks per game (3.6) to become just the second rookie to place first in those categories, along with Manute Bol in 1985-86.

    Wembanyama is also the fourth player in NBA history with 1,500 points, 250 assists and 250 blocks in a season, joining a trio of Hall of Famers in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Robinson. Olajuwon and Robinson were the most recent players to accomplish the feat when they both did so in 1993-94.

    In 71 overall contests, Wembanyama finished with per-game averages of 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals.

    Wembanyama will have an opportunity to collect some more hardware, as he is one of three finalists for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award to be announced Tuesday. Minnesota's Rudy Gobert and Miami's Bam Adebayo are the others. 

  • NBA: Knicks survive 76ers to advance, Pacers eliminate Bucks with rout NBA: Knicks survive 76ers to advance, Pacers eliminate Bucks with rout

    Jalen Brunson scored 14 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter and Josh Hart made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 24.4 seconds left as the New York Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 118-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

    Donte DiVincenzo added 23 points, OG Anunoby had 19 and Hart finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists as the Knicks reached the second round for the second consecutive season.

    New York will face Indiana in the East semis after the Pacers eliminated the Bucks in six games. Game 1 is Monday at Madison Square Garden.

    Brunson became the first player to score 40 or more points to close out a series since Michael Jordan for Chicago against Cleveland in 1989.

    Joel Embiid had 39 points and 13 rebounds but was held to six points in the fourth quarter. Buddy Hield scored 20 points off the bench and Tyrese Maxey was a non-factor in the first half and finished with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting as the 76ers failed to win a playoff round for the first time since 2019-20.

    The Knicks led 109-101 with 2 ½ minutes remaining in the back-and-forth game, but Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3 and a layup sandwiched around Maxey’s layup to make it a one-point game.

    After Brunson’s layup put New York up 111-108 with under a minute to play, Maxey converted a three-point play with 35 seconds left to tie it.

    Hart drilled a 3 from the top of the key before Embiid’s layup four seconds later made it 114-113. DiVincenzo and Brunson each sank two free throws to seal it.


    Pacers advance with rout of Bucks

    Obi Toppin led six players in double figures with a playoff career-high 21 points and the Indiana Pacers won a playoff series for the first time in a decade with a 120-98 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks.

    T.J. McConnell had 20 points and nine assists off the bench, Pascal Siakam added 19 points and Tyrese Haliburton contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who had lost their last six playoff series since 2014.

    Indiana will face New York in the next round after the Knicks eliminated Philadelphia.

    The Pacers went 8-3 against the Bucks this season and handed Milwaukee its second straight first-round exit.

    Damian Lillard returned from a right Achilles injury with 28 points and Bobby Portis added 20 and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who shot just 42.2 percent (35 for 83) from the field and 25.9 percent (7 for 27) from 3-point range.

    Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the entire series after straining his left calf on April 9.

    The Pacers used a 15-3 run in the first quarter for a 29-19 lead and never trailed again.

    Milwaukee cut the deficit to 85-78 with 6:05 left in the third, but McConnell capped an 11-0 run with consecutive 3s to make it 96-78 early in the fourth.

  • Celtics are 'learning from mistakes' after series win over Heat Celtics are 'learning from mistakes' after series win over Heat

    Jayson Tatum claimed that the Boston Celtics are learning from their mistakes after securing their place in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

    The Celtics are into the semifinals following a 4-1 series victory over the Miami Heat after winning Game 5 118-84 on Wednesday.

    In taking the series, the Celtics avenged their 2023 Conference finals loss to the Heat, who routed them in Game 7.

    Tatum praised the team’s attitude during the win, saying: "That's how it should be.

    "We should be learning from our mistakes and things we could've done better and applying it to the next season, because we're trying to have a different outcome this year."

    Jaylen Brown and Derrick White each scored 25 points, while Sam Hauser had 17 points and Tatum added 16 with 12 rebounds for the Celtics.

    Despite a record-breaking shooting performance by the Heat in Game 2, they struggled to gain a foothold in the series. They missed 26 of 29 from 3-point range and were out-rebounded 56-29 in Game 5 while playing without the injured Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

    The Celtics were also without a key player, as Kristaps Porzingis missed his first postseason game with a right calf strain that will keep him out for at least a week.

    Brown insisted that the Celtics have proven that they were never reliant on any single player.

    "I think we just have to continue to play our game like we've been doing our whole career and continue to show our growth by trusting our teammates," he said.

    "I think if we're going to win, we're going to win as a team."

    Up next for the top-seeded Celtics is the winner of the Cleveland-Orlando series that the Cavaliers lead 3-2.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.