LAS VEGAS – This is what the Miami Heat came to see in summer league, big men Orlando Robinson and Nikola Jovic playing big.
That’s exactly what they got Saturday in a 99-88 victory over the Boston Celtics’ summer roster at the NBA2K24 Summer League, particularly from Robinson.
With first-round pick Jaime Jaquez Jr. sidelined by a shoulder injury, power play was the focus for the summer roster guided by Erik Spoelstra assistant Caron Butler.
Robinson, who first drew Heat notice at summer league last year after going undrafted out of Fresno State in 2022, closed with 36 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 13 of 22 from the field, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers, and 7 of 8 from the line.
Jovic, the Heat’s 2022 first-round pick out of Serbia, followed up 21- and 22-point performances in the Sacramento summer league, with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists Saturday.
The Heat also got 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds from two-way guard Dru Smith, and 10 points and seven rebounds from forward Jamal Cain.
Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday’s summer-league game against the Celtics:
1. Two down: In addition to being without Jaquez due to the injury sustained in Wednesday night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings at the California Classic, guard Jamaree Bouyea was out with an ankle sprain sustained in that game.
The Heat opened with a lineup of Jovic, Cain, Robinson, Smith, and Drew Peterson.
The Heat next play Monday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern against the summer roster of the Phoenix Suns.
That could have the Heat waiting on both Jaquez and Bouyea, with back-to-back games then scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
2. Middle man: Robinson took advantage of undersized and less-polished summer competition in the middle, playing through contact with aggressive minutes, up to 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting by halftime.
Robinson’s initial matchup was against Polish center Olek Balcerowski.
Although signed last week to a standard contract after playing last season on a two-way deal, Robinson has no more than the $75,000 guarantee given to players on summer tryout contracts, making these summer minutes particularly meaningful.
Robinson’s summer reemergence comes in the wake of the Heat bypassing making a free-agency qualifying offer to second-year center Omer Yurtseven.
3. Attack mode: Jovic again aggressively attacked in the open court off the dribble.
If this, indeed, is any type of trade showcase of Jovic amid Damian Lillard speculation, it has been an impressive weeklong showcase.
If anything, Jovic was selfless to a fault, often looking to spray passes to the perimeter for 3-point shots when practically point blank at the rim.
When he attacked, Jovic often was able to work his way to the foul line, where he went 8 of 9.
4. The next one: With Max Strus lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, and with Duncan Robinson possibly to be sent out in a potential Damian Lillard trade, the Heat for the third time in as many summer games started Peterson, the undrafted 6-foot-9 shooter out of Southern Cal.
Peterson converted his first two 3-point attempts Saturday, with eight points in his first eight minutes.
Peterson shot .362 on 3-pointers during his three seasons with the Trojans after transferring from Rice, named first-team All-Pac 12 this past season.
5. Looking on: Among those seated across from the Heat bench were Duncan Robinson, recent Heat free-agency acquisition Thomas Bryant, Spoelstra and Heat General Manager Andy Elisburg.
Spoelstra assistants Chris Quinn and Octavio De La Grana also sat across from the Heat bench.
Center Bam Adebayo took that one better, seated on the Heat bench with the team’s summer-league coaches.
Adebayo briefly visited at halftime with former Kentucky roommate and Heat teammate Mychal Mulder, who is on the Celtics’ summer roster.