When it comes to the Miami Heat’s starting lineup and rotations, the only concern of coach Erik Spoelstra is the takeoff point.
“We’ll figure out what we think is best for Game 1 and adjust as necessary,” Spoelstra said Wednesday after practice at FTX Arena.
With four preseason games remaining, including dual road exhibitions Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets and Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies, Spoelstra said there is ample time to get things lined up for the Oct. 19 season opener against the visiting Chicago Bulls.
“I’m open to whatever right now,” he said. “I think it’s still too early to figure that out.”
Spoelstra rotated through several combinations in Tuesday night’s preseason-opening loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and said there has been even more experimentation behind the scenes.
“We have been doing those rehearsals, regardless of whether everybody and the fans get to see it,” he said. “We had a pretty intense training camp to work through different rotations and different lineups and different roles for guys. So that will be ongoing the rest of preseason.
“We view all of this as training camp until we get to that Chicago game.”
Spoelstra made it sound as if Thursday’s game will be the priority on the trip in terms of his rotation players.
“We’ll play as many guys that are available the first night,” he said of Thursday night’s game at Barclays Center. “If guys play big minutes one night, I’m definitely not going to play them big minutes or if at all the next night.”
To the point
Spoelstra said it was not by coincidence that Tyler Herro took a lengthy turn at point guard in Tuesday’s exhibition, running a wing rotation that also featured Max Strus and Duncan Robinson.
“That was really a lot because some guys were out,” Spoelstra said, with Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo and Gabe Vincent among those held out Tuesday. “And then, I also wanted to play Tyler at least a few minutes at the point, just get him used to initiating and have another ballhandler that can help us get into offense.”
Ultimately, even if a starter, Herro could swing to point guard when Kyle Lowry is subbed out.
“His skillset is such that he should be able to toggle back between playing off the ball, either as a spacer or a catch-and-shoot guy or a dribble-handoff guy or different actions on the weak side,” Spoelstra said.
“And then he should be able to know when at certain points where the ball is going to be in his hands, and he has the responsibility to make the best play for the team.
Among those Spoelstra praised after Tuesday’s loss was 6-foot-6 reserve Haywood Highsmith, who is in contention for minutes at power forward.
“He’s really improved,” Spoelstra said of the former Division II prospect. “He has a big frame and he has a long wingspan. His natural playing weight would be around 230, 235. His walking-around weight, he’s under 220. So he’s lean and he’s quick, giving multiple efforts.
“He’s like those boxers that trim down, they still have the strength. And that’s what he has.”
Forward Caleb Martin, a leading contender to replace departed free agent P.J. Tucker as the starting power forward, said his 5-of-8 shooting Tuesday night, including 2 of 4 on 3-pointers, was as expected.
“I feel like a lot of it was reps and just confidence,” Martin said of the payoff from his offseason work. “I think a lot of it is just believing in it. When you second guess your shot, you kind of hold it for a second and you try to aim it and you’re trying to make sure you’re putting it in the right spot.”