Playoffs

Winderman’s view: In victory, Terry Rozier makes his case as Heat’s latest Boy Wonder

Winderman’s view: In victory, Terry Rozier makes his case as Heat’s latest Boy Wonder

MIAMI — Observations and other notes of interest from Tuesday night’s 109-99 victory over the New York Knicks:

– In a vacuum, Terry Rozier getting on a heater would appear totally apropos.

– At the moment, it seems just that.

– With Tyler Herro still out.

– Which only adds to the drama of what happens when/if Herro returns from the foot tendinitis that has had him out for more than a month.

– Because we have yet to get to the point of knowing whether side-by-side Rozier and Herro works.

– Or, for that matter, whether either can maximize his game if cast, instead, in an either/or alignment.

– So staggered minutes?

– Keys handed to Rozier as leading ignition man?

– No, not the type of question you want with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season.

– And perhaps one that won’t have to be answered at all, if Herro doesn’t come fully around.

– But for two players who sit side-by-side in the locker room, side-by-side questions remain.

– With the Heat title of Boy Wonder potentially in the balance.

– The Heat again opened with a lineup of Rozier, Bam Adebayo, Nikola Jovic, Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson.

– That lineup entered 5-5 this season.

– With Jovic’s first 3-point conversion made it 11 consecutive games with at least one, surpassing the previous longest such streak of his career he had set earlier this season.

– Inactive for the Heat were Herro and Josh Richardson, as well as two-way player Alondes Williams, a rare time the Heat had to deactivate an available healthy player.

– Teams are limited to 15 in uniform on game nights, with the Heat roster at 18.

– The Heat opened with Butler defending Jalen Brunson, with Josh Hart taking the Butler assignment on the other end.

– There was an early “M-V-P!” chant for Brunson from the large contingent of New York fans.

– That was followed by an “M-V-P!” chant for Butler, who is ineligible due to a lack of games played.

– Back from his one-game absence due to ankle soreness, Caleb Martin was first off the Heat bench.

– Jaime Jaquez Jr. then entered after Robinson was called for his second foul with 4:20 left in the opening period.

– And then Kevin Love entered for the first time in over a month, after being sidelined with a heel issue.

– With Haywood Highsmith making it nine deep.

– Highsmith then got the call ahead of Jaquez in the second half.

– The talk at the Heat’s morning shootaround was of the importance of the closing schedule.

– “I think we all understand what’s at stake here and also where we’re trying to be as a team,” Patty Mills said. “It’s crunch time, so it’s one of those games we’re preparing for something larger.”

– Mills also said, “Just every game has meaning and they’re must-win games.” And added, “money in the bank for what we’re trying to do in the playoffs.”

– Said Rozier, “We know how every game is important here on out.”

– For Rozier, the game put him against the opponent of his first career triple-double.

– “It was my actual first start, too,” he said, “It was good times, definitely. Can’t forget something like that.”

– Asked about Brunson, Rozier said ahead of the game, “Super crafty, plays hard, wants to go get it. The guys really put a lot of trust in him and he’s delivered time after time. So all the respect goes to him.”

– Of Brunson, Mills said, “He’s such a great, craft talent. He gets to whatever spots he wants.”

– Then there’s Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who said, “You just try to be extremely disciplined to your system. You’re not taking things away from him at this point, at the level he’s playing.”

– As for the Knicks, Spoelstra said, “They’ve had a lot of adversity, but they’ve been able to weather all those storms.”

– Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he hardly was surprised the Adebayo added 3-point shooting to his game.

– “It’s a mark of a great player,” Thibodeau said pregame. “You almost expect them to keep adding, which he’s done.”

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