The Miami Heat bested the San Antonio Spurs in Monday night’s 97-94 come-from-behind preseason victory in front of a jumping home crowd that featured Floyd Mayweather.READ MORE: Celtics run past Heat 93-80, move 1 win from NBA Finals
The early highlight of the night was when boxing’s biggest fighter — both in the ring and in the household — got booed by the Miami crowd when they showed him on the big screen.
As for the game, the winner and loser is meaningless on a preseason stage so here are three things I took away from tonight’s mid-October matchup. The focus was beyond Miami’s potent starting five.
1 — Justise Winslow Looks NBA-Ready
The rookie’s stat line didn’t pop tonight (2 PTS, 1/5 FG, 6 REB, 3 AST, 4 PF) and it may rarely scream Rookie of the Year all season but Justise Winslow — physically and mentally — looks like he’ll be an impactful part of the Heat’s rotation this season.
“He’s not a guy that you can probably evaluate through analytics,” Erik Spoelstra said after the game. “He’s a basketball player. He makes winning plays. He does a lot of the little things.”
Defensively, he displays the lateral quickness and strength that should equate to a valuable, versatile perimeter defender from the start. On offense, he showed patience as a ball handler and despite missing a couple bunnies inside, he created scoring opportunities for others. The ability to create for yourself and your teammates can be the difference between a role player and an all-star in this league.READ MORE: South Florida family knows firsthand effects of nationwide baby formula shortage
Whether he proves to be capable of efficiently hitting the open three — and they will be open, as Chris Bosh stressed already — should dictate whether he’s a mere role player this season or something more. He missed his only long-ball attempt tonight.
2 — Tyler Johnson > Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers didn’t play tonight but this is a broader observation dating back to a season ago. Johnson is the better athlete, defender, decision-maker, and shooter. He looked solid tonight, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting (2/3 from 3FG) and can provide a spark off the bench from either guard spot.
Spo raved about his young guard after the game, calling him “one of the hardest workers in this building.”
If the Heat can’t move Chalmers and his $4.3 million salary, I wouldn’t expect him to get much grind this season at the expense of TJ. Johnson’s growth has to be among the reasons why the team seems so comfortable unloading Chalmers to anyone who will take him.
3 — The Triple A Was Funky
The scoreboard malfunctioned in the middle of the fourth quarter, freezing up like your first PC. But far more egregious was that during an early timeout, they gave out signed Mario Chalmers sneakers as the prize for an on-court shooting contest between two fans.
I get it’s the preseason, but really? A free hook at Floyd would’ve been more fruitful.MORE NEWS: South Florida woman's bout with COVID included hair loss: 'This isn’t normal shedding'
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