Duncan Robinson shot 6-of-9 from beyond the arc.
The Miami Heat got off to a lackadaisical start Saturday night at the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland ran out to an 11-point first-quarter lead, and some Heat fans worried about another inexplicable loss to a sub-par team this season.
That didn’t last long.
Miami trounced the second quarter 38-24 and built on their lead in the second half to allow Jimmy Butler to rest the entire fourth quarter. The Heat’s lead crested at 24 before settling to a 124-107 decision that moved Miami to 34-30 on the season and remain tied with the Boston Celtics for the sixth-best record in the East.
A couple of players the Heat plucked from the G League — Kendrick Nunn and Max Strus — changed the game in the second quarter. (Butler didn’t even score his first field goal until the third quarter.) On the night, they combined to make seven 3-pointers and drive to the basket several times, like this example from Strus.
Nunn finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. Of course, Cleveland is a bad defensive team, but Nunn took advantage. He’s made a real case that he deserves to keep his rotation place and perhaps even another contract after this season. Coming off his horrendous 2020 playoff performance, we couldn’t say that. Credit to Nunn for withstanding the adversity and bouncing back this year.
Have to admit that I literally laughed out loud at how Kendrick got open here. pic.twitter.com/XV56zgIbmG
— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) May 2, 2021
Another Miami developmental project, Duncan Robinson, made four 3-pointers in the third quarter to turn a seven-point halftime lead into a 13-point advantage heading into the fourth. Robinson hit his 500th 3 Saturday night, becoming the fastest player to reach that marker. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from downtown and also rested the entire fourth quarter.
Fastest player to 500 treys in the history of basketball.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 2, 2021
Despite his slow start, Butler scored 10 of his 15 points in the third to build Miami’s lead. He got to the rim and got to the foul line — two of the best things he does. And he had some nice moments of strong defense, like this one here that leads to a Trevor Ariza layup.
THIS EFFORT >>>>>>>>
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) May 2, 2021
Ariza, by the way, scored 18 points on the night on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. He has been a great addition for Miami, sliding into that starting power forward spot after they traded Kelly Olynyk for Victor Oladipo. The Heat are a better offensive team when he’s on the court, and he provides defensive versatility.
Like Butler, Bam Adebayo also struggled out of the gate. But he anchored the fourth-quarter lineup without his All-Star teammate to put the game away. He finished with 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
The Heat will fly to Charlotte to visit the Hornets for a big game Sunday night at 8 p.m.