HomeBasketball TodayAdebayo and Spoelstra analyze tough battle against Nuggets

Adebayo and Spoelstra analyze tough battle against Nuggets

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With the loss, Miami dropped from the fifth seed to the eighth.

The Miami Heat’s five-game winning streak was snapped Thursday night as they fell to the Denver Nuggets in an NBA Finals rematch from last season. Despite being down 16 early, the Heat made it close throughout the rest of the game until the final moments as stars such as Bam Adebayo and head coach Erik Spoelstra gave their assessment about the loss.

Even though it ended in a defeat and there aren’t moral victories, the Heat was once again showing toughness in situations that seemed to go awry. Adebayo spoke to the media after the game and described the collective effort as “being resilient” and “fighting back” as Denver got hot early according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald

“We always give ourselves a chance, just being resilient, fighting back, not giving up even though some people would have cracked,” Adebayo said. “Having that type of adversity is good for us, especially in these types of environments.”

Adebayo led the Heat with 22 points while collecting eight rebounds and recording three assists. He had a hard task of primarily covering Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic who scored 18 points, collected 11 rebounds, and recorded seven assists.

Erik Spoelstra talks about the Heat’s missed opportunities vs. Denver 

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Spoelstra pointed out the missed opportunities by Miami that the team has to make in an environment like the one in Denver. The Heat shot 42.2 percent from the field and only made seven of their 26 attempts from three-point range where on the Nuggets side, they made 42.9 percent of their shots and hit 12 of 34 from deep.

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“Offensively, we have to convert a lot of those opportunities to beat a team like this on the road,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We had opportunities at the rim. There were some makable ones that didn’t go down.”

“They’re a challenging team to guard with Jokic’s passing and cutting,” Spoelstra continued. “We were able to manage a lot of that reasonably well.”

Even though Thursday night was a sour moment for Miami, it still has been a turnaround for the team in the past few weeks after the seven-game losing skid earlier in the year. Since then, the Heat have won nine of their last 12 games and after the All-Star break, are 3-1 with every game as the away team, a road trip that Spoelstra called “good.”

“We’ll learn from this overall,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a good road trip, even though I’m not feeling that right now.”

Star Jimmy Butler was solid in scoring 21 points, collecting seven rebounds, and recording four assists, but saw limited opportunities down the stretch to bring the Heat out of the depths of trailing. Now with Miami dropping from the fifth seed to the eight seed after one night, Butler says “we’re all right.”

“We’re just not quite there yet,” Butler said, but then made a reassuring comment about Miami. “We’re OK. We’re all right.”

Heat without Kevin Love showed flaws against bigger team 

While the team won’t accept any excuses, Miami was missing significant key players like Tyler Herro, Josh Richardson, and especially Kevin Love. He was sorely missed against Denver as the opponent has elite size that tortured the Heat all night, which prompted more minutes for big-man Orlando Robinson. Spoelstra spoke about how important Love is for Miami.

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“There is no Option B. That’s why Kevin is Kevin,” Spoelstra said via The Miami Herald. “And he’s a great team defender and he’s willing to put his body in harm’s way for the team. And, again, if you want to do some tough things defensively, you have to be tough, you have to make tough, physical plays, all within the confines of the rules. But you can’t play passive. You can’t be soft and expect to have a good defense.”

“Kevin is extremely tough and we love that about him,” Spoelstra continued. “When he gets a charge, it’s like two or three momentum changes plays, it feels like, on one possession, because the whole team rallies around that play, galvanizes our group.”

As said before, the Heat have now dropped to 33-26 on the season which puts them eighth in the Eastern Conference, which is tightly packed as it gets down in the standings. They do have a two-game homestretch ahead of them starting Saturday against the Utah Jazz then Tuesday facing the Detroit Pistons.

Zachary Weinberger_headshot

About the Author

Zachary Weinberger joined ClutchPoints in October 2023 as a Miami Heat reporter as well as an Associate Editor. He graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2022 after covering the school’s athletic programs since his freshman year at the FAU University Press, where he was a Sports Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He then covered FAU Sports for The Palm Beach Post.

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