Opening Night of preseason went about as well as could be expected. Ben Simmons played for the first time in 470 days and looked rusty. Like Simmons, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving played 19 minutes each and looked like KD and Kyrie, just a little less. Joe Harris returned from 11 months off, launches two airballs, then went 2-of-5 from deep. Royce O’Neale and Nic Claxton both looked good on both ends and Yuta Watanabe and Edmond Sumner showed potential.
And of course all of it was pretty much meaningless.
The Nets meet the Miami the Heat Thursday, again at Barclays. Like the Nets, the Heat lost their first preseason game to the Timberwolves. The game will be a little less meaningless than Game 1 and once again, Brooklyn will be facing a tough Eastern Conference rival — and perennial contender. The Heat are basically returning their entire roster, with only two additions, both rookies and one of them is a two-way. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra are going the continuity route while so many of their rivals are banking on change.
Where to follow the game
YES Network and ESPN are the places to be. We get started at Barclays Center just after 7:30 p.m. ET.
T.J. Warren (foot) and Seth Curry (ankle) are out. Warren will be evaluated in a month, Curry may play in the fourth game of the Nets preseason schedule on October 13, six games before Opening Night. Kyrie Irving and his wife had a baby on Wednesday so his status remains unsettled. In any event, congratulations to Mom and Dad!
No official word yet, but Victor Oladipo, Gabe Vincent and Jimmy Butler all rested vs. the Timberwolves on Tuesday. Otherwise, Heat are healthy.
The Heat have the most experienced and most successful front office in the East. And this season, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra are going the continuity route. As noted, their only additions are rookies Nikola Jovic and Darius Days, a two-way player.
Instead, the Heat went very conservative. And why not? They won 53 games last season, tops in the East but lost in the East Finals to the Celtics. After an off-season in which several of their rivals, including the Nets and Celtics, were racked by chaos, there was no need to go through a wholesale changeover. They have Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo. All but Oladipo have Finals experience and Lowry has a ring. That ain’t bad.
But that hasn’t stopped Erik Spoelstra from experimenting with what he has. As Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel notes, after playing Adebayo and Omer Yurtseven together for just 18 total minutes last season, head coach Erik Spoelstra had the duo on the floor for 20 minutes in the Heat’s preseason opener vs. Minnesota on Tuesday,
“They’re not going to play this many minutes together (during the season), if they play together. We’ll figure that part out,” Spoelstra said. “But that takes more time than some of the space or speed lineups. That’s why we’re dedicating time to that now in the preseason and in training camp.”
It won’t be the only experiment. Spoelstra told the media he intends to continue using the preseason as a time to experiment with all sorts lineup combinations, that he’s “open to whatever” as he gets a sense of what works and what doesn’t, per Winderman.
“We view all of this as training camp until we get to that Chicago game,” Spoelstra said, referring to Miami’s first game of the regular season on October 19.
Among Spoelstra’s other experiments, letting Bam Adebayo shoot threes!
The Nets are not as committed to continuity as the Heat, but they based on their past record, their current roster passes for continuity, Brooklyn-style. Seven out of the top 10 return.
Player to watch:
It has to be Tyler Herro who this week signed a huge deal with a base value of $120 million which and can get to $130 million if he achieves some very unlikely incentives like MVP and/or being named Defensive Player of the Year. Good motivation but unlikely. Herro was Sixth Man of the Year last season in his third year in the NBA, averaging 20.7 points, five rebounds and four assists on 45/40/87 shooting splits.
“It was a number I couldn’t pass up,” Herro said of his new deal. “It wasn’t worth going into restricted free agency. And at the end of the day, this is where I want to be. … So it made sense...
“When I came here, I had a dream of getting paid by the Heat and being here for a while and bringing a championship here. We’ve come close, but we haven’t gotten there yet. To be locked in for the next five years means a lot to me because the goal is still to win a championship and we feel like we can do that.”
“It is gratifying for everybody involved. Everybody in our organization, for Tyler, his family, his representation,” Erik Spoelstra said of the extension. “He has improved every single year and this is what we’re about, developing players and then hopefully trying to keep them in our program and to be able to take care of them and compensate them. His ceiling, we don’t know where it will be with the way he just continues to improve. “I feel very similar about Tyler as to when we were able to extend Bam [Adebayo]. The really cool thing about is: Yes, they are the future, but they also are the present.”
For the record, Herro is 22, Adebayo is 25. Good place to start.
From the Vault
November 7, 2005, Miami, Florida. One of the great dunks in NBA history: Vince Carter off a Richard Jefferson miss...
Carter said that Mourning didn’t speak to him for years after that night.
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