There were many encouraging preseason developments for the Miami Heat.
The addition of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry looks like it’s going to help a lot. It seems that Tyler Herro took advantage of his first full NBA offseason and returned an improved player. Bam Adebayo looks to have a clear offensive plan and played a more assertive style.
Those are just a few of the positive takeaways from the Heat’s 5-1 preseason that ended with Friday’s win over the Boston Celtics. But one that shouldn’t be ignored is Miami’s improved rebounding, with Thursday’s season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks at FTX Arena looming.
“I think it was better,” coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about the Heat’s rebounding during the preseason. “There has been an intention to it. It’ll be a matter of doing it consistently. Last year, we were a pretty good rebounding team. We weren’t an outstanding rebounding team. We just did not do it consistently. The times that we didn’t rebound well, it really hurt us. So it is our collective intention to be able to rebound better and to do things that will put us in a position to hopefully rebound better.”
This was only the preseason and a limited six-game sample size, but the Heat posted the NBA’s fourth-best rebounding percentage (the percentage of available rebounds a team grabs) at 52.5 percent, fifth-best offensive rebounding percentage at 29.8 percent and 10th-best defensive rebounding percentage at 75.6 percent during the exhibition schedule.
That represents a notable improvement from last regular season, when the Heat finished with the NBA’s ninth-worst rebounding percentage at 49.1 percent, second-worst offensive rebounding percentage at 24 percent and 12th-worst defensive rebounding percentage at 73.3 percent.
Those struggles culminated with the Bucks dominating the Heat on the glass in a first-round sweep of Miami in the playoffs last season. The Bucks outrebounded the Heat 236-169 and finished with a 75-44 edge in second-chance points in the series.
“I mean, we were dealing with that long before that playoff series,” Adebayo said of last season’s rebounding issues. “So it was long before that before we were trying to figure that out.”
How did the Heat address the problem in the offseason? “Personnel and emphasis,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat added physical forwards Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker in free agency this past offseason, and the acquisition of Lowry should also help as an above-average rebounder for a guard. During their NBA careers, Morris has averaged 5.3 rebounds, Tucker has averaged 5.7 rebounds and Lowry has averaged 4.4 rebounds.
“I feel like it was a point of emphasis to actually crash the glass a lot more than we have,” Adebayo said. “A lot of times last year, we had four guards and me. So usually they would send a double to take me out and they would just get the rebound. But now we got bigger guys, more guys who offensive rebound.”
Adebayo, who said he worked to add 15 pounds in the summer after a shoulder injury kept him from his usual weightlifting routine last season, also feels like he will be a better rebounder.
“I definitely got in the weight room,” Adebayo said. “My tendinitis is not as bad as it once was. Other than that, yeah I feel rejuvenated and I feel refreshed.”
It should be noted that the Heat’s preseason rebounding numbers are a bit skewed with center Omer Yurtseven averaging 10.1 offensive rebounds and 18.5 total rebounds per 36 minutes and center Micah Potter averaging 11.3 rebounds. Yurtseven is not expected to be in the Heat’s rotation to open the season, and Potter was waived by the Heat this past weekend to move him to the organization’s G League affiliate.
But the Heat feels like it’s in a better position to be an above-average rebounding team this season after the additions it made to its roster this summer and the emphasis it has put on that part of the game.
“Really the rebounds last year were more about consistency in being able to do it,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s something we’re looking to address.”
PLAN FOR GARRETT
With the Heat’s roster finalized after Friday’s cuts, Spoelstra was asked Monday about the team’s plan for two-way contract guard Marcus Garrett. Players on two-way deals this season can be on their NBA team’s active list for as many as 50 regular-season games.
Spoelstra said the Heat has not made a decision yet on whether Garrett will see extended time with the organization’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, this season. But Spoelstra also didn’t rule it out.
“We’ll figure that all out,” Spoelstra said following Monday’s practice. “We’ll continue to use our player development program in all the different facets to how we see fit. Whatever we think makes the most sense during that particular time. Right now, we just got to get him healthy. We got to get him out here practicing multiple days in a row, feeling good about that and then we’ll take the next step.”
Garrett, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas, was limited to just three preseason games because of lower back spasms. He totaled seven points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and made his only three-point attempt, five rebounds, six assists and one steal in 22 preseason minutes.
Spoelstra said Garrett was able to practice Monday and felt “much better.”
WHO MISSED PRACTICE
Dewayne Dedmon, Udonis Haslem and Morris did not participate in Monday’s practice. They are all dealing with cold-like symptoms.
In addition, Victor Oladipo remains out as he continues to rehab from May knee surgery.