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Winderman’s view: Butler, Adebayo don’t measure up in loss to 76ers

MIAMI – Observations and other notes of interest from Thursday night’s 109-105 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers:

– Ahead of the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra spoke about how it already felt like the playoffs.

– That it did.

– What it didn’t feel like was enough from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
– While the 76ers got plenty from their leading men, the same could not be said for the Heat.

– Essentially, Butler and Adebayo did not measure up to Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid.

– So for all the contributions elsewhere for the Heat, it wasn’t enough.

– Yes, Butler came on late.

– But wasn’t strong enough at moments of truth.

– And Adebayo didn’t measure up.

– With a possible play-in rematch looming.

– Which has to be concerning.

– For all that Kevin Love, Terry Rozier and Haywood Highsmith mustered in support, this has to be about Butler and Adebayo.

– On this night it wasn’t.

– So, instead, a disappointing L.

– Amid the ongoing absence of Tyler Herro, the Heat remained with a starting lineup of Adebayo, Nikola Jovic, Butler, Duncan Robinson and Rozier.

– That lineup is now 6-6.

– Is such mediocrity good enough?.

– Spoelstra would not bite when asked pregame about the status of Herro, who has been out since Feb. 23, deadline with foot pain.

– “He’s making progress,” Spoelstra said.

– Asked if Herro would return before the April 14 end of the regular season, Spoelstra said, “We will let you know.”

Caleb Martin was first off the Heat bench, followed by Highsmith, Love and then Jaime Jaquez Jr.

– And that basically was it, nine deep, even on the first night of a back-to-back, with the Heat in Houston on Friday night.

– Spoelstra said the Heat’s rise in defensive ranking has come hand in hand with a return to the basics.

– “We tried to simplify several weeks ago, actually a few months ago,” he said pregame. “and just really tried to rally around that, just to stabilize things while we had moving parts. It’s also what we really take pride in as an organization.”

– But Spoelstra added, “You do have to do things as well on both sides of the floor, as we know. We’ve been making some strides offensively, as well, and we still have some room for growth there.”

– Thursday marked Kyle Lowry’s first game back at Kaseya Center since his January trade for Rozier.

– “We had a lot of wins. And we had a lot of playoff success, and that’s why Kyle is a throwback,” Spoelstra said when asked to reflect on Lowry’s Heat tenure. “You can’t just look at his numbers or his points per game, or whatever. It’s the impact that he has on winning. And he did that.”

– Spoelstra added, “The relationships that we created, it’ll transcend these times.”

– Lowry was introduced last among the 76ers, to a warm ovation,

– Lowry opened defensively against Butler.

– On starting the day No. 6 in the East, Spoelstra said, “We’re aware of things. We’re in hunt mode, chase mode right now. We’re not in obsession mode of looking at the standings. We see opportunity in front of us, but that old adage, you have to live in the present moment. That’s where we are right now.”

– Spoelstra did not discount Joel Embiid’s second game back with the 76ers, after being sidelined since January with a knee ailment.

– “He’s still a major challenge,” Spoelstra said. “He puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your defense, to contain him, to disrupt him and to do all of these things without fouling.”

– But Spoelstra also welcomed the challenge.

– “At this point of the season, and what we’re trying to do, you can’t expect it to be easy,” he said.

– Thursday’s double-double gave Adebayo 40 for the season, matching his best such year (2019-20)