Winderman’s view: Heat shorthanded but without excuse in loss to Pacers

Observations and other notes of interest from Saturday night’s 144-129 loss to the Indiana Pacers:

– Typically a loss without your starting center, starting shooting guard and starting power forward wouldn’t be considered a bad loss.

– But even with the Heat without Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, and losing Haywood Highsmith in the opening minutes, this was different.

– Because without Tyrese Haliburton, what exactly are the Indiana Pacers?

– So Adebayo’s bum hip, Herro’s sprained ankle and Highsmith back spasm were not ample excuse.

– These are the games you need to win, particularly at home.

– But games you can’t win when defenseless.

– So an 11-9 record at the season’s quarter pole.

– Needing to get healthy.

– And needing to find consistency beyond a single winning streak.

– In an interesting twist, with Adebayo out, Erik Spoelstra opened with Orlando Robinson and not Thomas Bryant at center.

– It was Robinson’s second career NBA start.

– And kept Kevin Love with the second unit.

– Orlando Robinson played well.

– But also nowhere close to the defensive presence of Adebayo.

– The rest of the first five remained Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Highsmith and Duncan Robinson.

– The Heat entered 10-3 this season with Highsmith as a starter, but he left early holding his back, replaced by Caleb Martin.

– Inactive for the Heat were Adebayo,  Herro, Cole Swider, R.J. Hampton and Dru Smith.

– That again had Jamal Cain active.

– After Martin was forced into early minutes, Love and Jaquez then entered as the Heat’s next substitution.

– With Josh Richardson making it nine deep.

– Jamal Cain then entered for the final seconds of the opening period.

– Richardson now has in double figures in seven games in a row, his longest such streak since doing so in nine consecutive games in 2021 with the Mavericks.

– In the wake of the team announcing that Adebayo also would be out for the team’s next game, Wednesday night in Toronto, Spoelstra downplayed long-term concern.

– “He will continue to be day to day,” Spoelstra said. “We just want to take care of it, before it does take a turn for something else,” Spoelstra said of the hip contusion. “He seems to continue to get hit in the exact same spot, which is almost impossible to do.”

– Spoelstra added, “We’ll take care of it. He’ll feel better soon.”

– Of what is left in his power rotation, Spoelstra said, “It’s not our first time. We feel comfortable about our frontcourt depth. It’ll look a little bit different, which is what we like about our depth. Each guy brings something a little bit different.”

– Spoelstra added, “And they’ve all proven that they’ve been able to impact games already, to help us win. The game that Bam missed in Cleveland, we got some great frontcourt play from our bigs.”

– Of getting the Pacers for the second consecutive time over a three-day span, Spoelstra said, “It also is a great opportunity, within a matter of three days, that you can earn two wins against the same team. I just think that’s an opportunity you want to try to seize.”

– Spoelstra, who is Filipino from his mother’s side, opened his pregame comments by addressing the earthquake in the Philippines.

– “Just want to give my thoughts and prayers to everybody in the Philippines, a massive earthquake out there, so just thinking about everybody out there,” he said. “Heat Nation is thinking about everybody out there.”