Takeaways from the Miami Heat’s win over the Indiana Pacers

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 21: Dion Waiters
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 21: Dion Waiters /

The Miami Heat outworked the Indiana Pacers,112-108, in a home opener win on Saturday night.

After losing to the Orlando Magic 116-109 during their season opener, the Miami Heat redeemed themselves on Saturday night. Hosting the Indiana Pacers for their home opener, they walked away with an 112-108 w.

While it wasn’t a walk in the park, there was still plenty to like about the way the Heat played the game.

So what did they do right, to make them 1-1?

For one, James Johnson was all in.

Starting in place of Kelly Olynyk this time around, James Johnson went to work last night. He finished the evening with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks, all in 30 minutes. With that performance, the 30-year-old became just the second player in franchise history to record at least eight assists and five blocks in the same game.

Pretty impressive, to say the least.

Nevermind that he threw down a nasty dunk over Victor Oladipo.

The blackbelt clearly doesn’t mess around.

Earlier in the evening, the 30-year-old was named co-captain alongside Goran Dragic and Udonis Haslem, a huge honor for James Johnson.

"“It means the world to me that these guys voted for me to lead them, for them to follow me. I have great respect for them. Being the captain on this team don’t mean that I’m always saying what to do and everything I say is right. I also follow their lead, too. And I think that plays a big part in it.”"

While it may have taken the Wyoming-native a few years to find the right home for himself, it’s obvious the Heat made the right choice in not just initially signing him, but re-signing him this summer.

James Johnson is well on his way to becoming a Heat Lifer.

Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters bounced back.

7-11 reopened after a brief closure during Miami’s first game of the year. Dragic and Waiters combined for just 13-of-36 shooting from the field against the Magic, a large part of why the Heat fell short in Orlando last week.

But Saturday, the two went 17-for-29, scoring a combined total of 42 points.

Now that’s more like it.

While Dragic ended the night with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, Waiters recorded 19 points, going 8-for-16.

"“In Orlando, of course I was disappointed that we lost, and I was disappointed with my game,” Dragic said. “But all the shots I missed were easy shots, layups, a lot of shots I usually make. But it is what it is and I cannot look back and try to get back. Tonight was totally different.”"

It sure was. Perhaps because the veteran’s parents were in attendance, having come all the way from Slovenia? Nothing like family in the stands, to give that extra motivation.

Kelly Olynyk also showed out.

Despite being replaced by James Johnson in the starting lineup, Olynyk had himself a nice game.

Coming off the bench, the big fella totaled 13 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 2 steals in 27 minutes. He shot 5-of-10 from the line, going 3-for-5 from downtown.

"“I though he was really comfortable playing with the second unit,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I thought it was his best game on both ends since he’s been with us. This is what we were hoping for, his full skill set.”"

With Hassan Whiteside out due to a bruised knee, Spoelstra had to think quick on his feet regarding a new lineup. Fortunately however, the Heat are such a versatile group that the available combinations are endless.

Although it seems more likely that once Whiteside returns, James Johnson will move back to coming off the bench alongside Tyler Johnson… it’s nice to know that Olynyk can succeed both as a starter and leading the second unit.

Next: Say it ain't so: are injuries already a problem for the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat continue their home stretch on Monday, October 23, against the Atlanta Hawks.