Observations from Heat’s Red, White & Pink scrimmage, including who played with the starters

Daniel A. Varela/dvarela@miamiherald.com

After five days of practices as part of training camp in the Bahamas last week, the Miami Heat returned to Miami to put some of that work to use with some extended five-on-five time.

The Heat took part in the annual Red, White & Pink intrasquad scrimmage in front of an announced crowd of 5,093 on Monday night at FTX Arena. Tickets for the scrimmage cost $1, with proceeds benefiting cancer care and research at the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida.

“It’s really an inspiring evening,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The survivors that are out there, they’re the heroes of the night. But also, the doctors, the nurses and the support staff at the hospital at Baptist really do such an amazing job and we feel humbled to be a part of a night like this, where it’s really about them but then we also get to do what we love and compete and play and do it in front of the fans.”

There weren’t many new faces, as 13 players return from last season’s season-ending roster that finished just one win short of reaching the NBA Finals. But the Heat did explore some different lineup combinations in Monday’s scrimmage that weren’t used much last season.

Monday’s scrimmage consisted of four 12-minute quarters. Stats were not provided. Here are some observations from the intrasquad game:

For those on lineup watch, the Red Team opened the scrimmage with a lineup of Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and Bam Adebayo. This is the group that many project to be Miami’s starting lineup to open the season.

“I wouldn’t look into too much of that,” Spoelstra said when asked about the lineups used in Monday’s scrimmage. “We were shuffling through a lot of different lineups. I know everybody wants to assume, look at either our speed lineup or the big lineup. We’re going to be playing both of those lineups a lot more. That’s the nature of our team and the makeup. We have depth and we have versatility and we want to use it. Right now, it’s about trying to look at different things.”

The opposing White Team began the scrimmage with a lineup of Max Strus, Marcus Garrett, Haywood Highsmith, Duncan Robinson and Dewayne Dedmon.

If Martin is indeed going to start at power forward in P.J. Tucker’s place, his three-point shooting will be important in order to space the floor for Adebayo and Butler.

Martin raised his three-point percentage from 24.8 percent in 2020-21 to 41.3 percent in 60 regular-season games (12 starts) in his first season with the Heat.

And Martin’s outside shot looked sharp in the scrimmage, as he hit three threes in the first half.

Adebayo, who did not make a three-pointer last regular season, and Dedmon, who made 19 threes last regular season, both hit above-the-break threes early in the scrimmage.

In fact, Adebayo made three threes in Monday’s scrimmage.

“You can see Bam’s skill set and how it’s really improving year after year,” Spoelstra said. “His ability in the midrange, his ability on jab step jumpers. He has extended his range. He’s really been working on his three-point shot.”

Fresh off signing a four-year extension with the Heat on Sunday, Herro continued where he left off last season and was scoring at all three levels in the scrimmage.

As expected, the Heat continued to experiment with two-big lineups in the scrimmage. The Red Team opened the second quarter with a five-man group that featured two centers in Adebayo and Yurtseven.

For that combination to work, Adebayo and/or Yurtseven will have to space the floor with outside shooting. On Monday, they both hit threes in their minutes together during the second quarter.

Butler and Lowry played limited minutes and did not appear in the scrimmage past the first quarter.

Rookie forward Nikola Jovic, who turned 19 in June and was drafted by the Heat with No. 27 pick in this year’s draft, entered the scrimmage in the third quarter and made two layups early in the period but also committed a few turnovers.

Robinson was among the scrimmage standouts, as he made at least three three-pointers in the first half. After losing his starting spot late last season, he’s competing to be in the rotation this season.

Guard Dru Smith, who is on a training camp contract with the Heat and is expected to be on the organization’s G League team, had some nice moments in the scrimmage. In the first quarter alone, he blocked a shot, converted on a layup and made a three-pointer.

Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo and Udonis Haslem did not participate in the scrimmage. They watched on from the bench.

“Vic is feeling really good,” Spoelstra said. “We just felt that we wanted to get him a little bit more work, a little bit of rest. He should be ready to go tomorrow. Gabe is making some progress. Then UD, it’s more just a rest day.”

Vincent sat out at least one training camp practice last week because of a knee issue.

With the event benefiting cancer care and research, Heat players and Spoelstra were each introduced ahead of the scrimmage alongside physicians and survivors from the Miami Cancer Institute.

“I want to give a big time shout out to the survivors. You’re a big time inspiration to all of us,” Spoelstra said as he addressed the FTX Arena crowd before the scrimmage.

Spoelstra watched the scrimmage from a courtside seat alongside both of his sons.

The Heat is recognizing its 35th season with a 35th anniversary logo on both ends of its home court.

The scrimmage marked the beginning of a busy week for the Heat, which opens its five-game preseason schedule against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at FTX Arena (Bally Sports Sun). The Heat then hits the road for a preseason back-to-back set on Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets and Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies.