The external question this season has been whether the Miami Heat are big enough to rebound. The inside story, according to coach Erik Spoelstra, is whether they’re small enough to get the job done.
With his team starting 6-foot-5 Caleb Martin at power forward, Spoelstra said the goal remains a consistent contribution from his wings on the boards.
“I just like it when everybody is an active participant,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat closing out their three-game trip Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. “I love it when our perimeters get 20-plus rebounds. That’s usually a good thing. Usually it means we’re getting stops and those guys are making the efforts all around the court.”
The trend has been somewhat positive in that regard. Going into Friday night, Jimmy Butler was averaging 6.3 per game, Tyler Herro 5.9, Kyle Lowry 4.5, Max Strus 3.6, Victor Oladipo 3.5 and Gabe Vincent 2.3. Center Bam Adebayo led the team at 10.1.
“I think for the most part, we’ve rebounded well,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve had some costly lessons where we haven’t rebounded well, and it’s turned into losses. But our guys have taken it to heart. They understand how important it is to finish our defense.
“We don’t want to just put it all on Bam. He does so many things for us defensively, all the different schemes and he’s taking all the biggest challenges.”
During the 13-6 run the Heat took into Friday night, there has been a steady rise in the NBA rebounding ranks, even with dealing with an absence from Martin and going with two-way rookie Orlando Robinson as Adebayo’s primary backup. Mostly because it hasn’t been left solely to Adebayo.
“We don’t want to just leave it to him and just expect him to do everything for us defensively,” Spoelstra said. “He already has so much on his shoulders. Sometimes we’re in switches – we’re in that less, so we’re able to keep body to body. But it’s an expectation of everybody has to pursue and be an active participant. It’s really important for us to finish our defense.”
In addition, while the Heat continue to prioritize covering the backcourt off missed shots, there also has been greater latitude lately in attacking the offensive glass.
“It all works together,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not necessarily that we’re saying crash all guys. But it’s the details of being in the right position. And also that aggressiveness. A lot of times drives, attacks lead to offensive rebounds. We’re at our best offensively when we’re aggressive.
“It all has to work hand in hand. But when really putting pressure on the rim, I just think a lot of good things happen for us. And offensive rebounding is one of those.”
Forward Jamal Cain rejoined the Heat on Friday in Dallas after spending two games with the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, as part of his two-way contract.
Cain made two appearances with the Skyforce earlier this week, totaling 63 points and 23 rebounds.
The only players listed as out for the Heat on Friday night were Omer Yurtseven (ankle surgery), Duncan Robinson (finger surgery) and Nikola Jovic (back stress reaction), with all three having remained behind in Miami for the three-game trip . . .
Orlando Robinson, the Heat’s other two-way player, has remained with the Heat since signing his two-way contract on Dec. 11, thriving in his role behind Adebayo.
“I think he’s been just listening and doing everything the coaches and players have been asking him to do, " Lowry said of the undrafted big man out of Fresno State. “It’s been very encouraging for a guy like that. He’s just finding a way to just be effective, and that’s what you want from a young guy, just find a way to be effective on the floor.”
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