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Winderman’s view: Nikola Jovic’s career night the start of something more for Heat?

MILWAUKEE – Observations and other notes of interest from Tuesday night’s 123-97 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks:

– As he awaited his turn for pregame shooting, Nikola Jovic smiled at the irony.

– “It’s like I either start or don’t play,” he said.

– Tuesday night he started.

– And converted his first four 3-point shots, establishing a career high before the intermission.

– Later with a career high in points.

– Including 10 in the third period.

– With his ballhandling particularly useful with Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson sidelined.

– In this one, the options were limited for Erik Spoelstra, with Jimmy Butler also out, following the weekend passing of a family member.

– But while Rozier (knee) and Richardson (shoulder) will be out longer with their injuries, Butler will be back after the All-Star break.

– An eight-day break for the Heat that starts after Wednesday night’s game in Philadelphia.

– So then what Jovic?

– It could be back in the starting lineup, instead of Caleb Martin, who also started Tuesday.

– Or it could be that the ballhandling of Butler offsets the need for Jovic in that role.

– As much as there is plenty to be said about player development, the games after the break also will be about developing a postseason rotation.

– And is Jovic ready for that?

– Keeping in mind he’s still only 20.

– Bottom line is that Jovic stayed ready and produced.

– It likely will go back to being that way after the break.

– But this was a moment you file away when considering the long-term possibilities.

– With Butler, Rozier and Richardson unavailable, it was on to lineup No. 29 for the Heat in their 54th game.

– This time the first five were Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Martin and Jovic.

– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra offered somewhat of an exhale over the two Sunday injuries, with Richardson to be evaluated in two weeks with a dislocated right shoulder and Rozier listed as week-to-week with a sprained right knee,

– “We’ll find out more as the week goes on,” he said. “The (All-Star) break will be good for both of them. They’ll both be able to do a great deal of treatment and rehab.”

– Spoelstra added, “But considering everything and how everything looked on the floor, at the moment we’re cautiously encouraged right now.”

– The Bucks, playing on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back set that opened with a Monday night victory over the Nuggets, opened with a lineup of Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Jae Crowder, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. played as the Heat’s first reserve.

– Taking over at point guard when Herro went to the bench.

– With a shaky open for Jaquez in that role.

Kevin Love was second off the Heat bench.

– With Haywood Highsmith following for eight deep.

– And that was it, an eight-man rotation.

– Which meant no Jamal Cain, Alondes Williams, Cole Swider, Thomas Bryant and Orlando Robinson, the other five players available, until garbage time.