After a disappointing start to the season, the Miami Heat shook things up by replacing Kevin Love with Haywood Highsmith as the team’s starting power forward for the last two games, and it appears he’s done enough to hold onto the job.
Highsmith, who missed the first four games of the season with a knee injury, started in Friday’s win over the Wizards with Love recovering from a shoulder injury. Though Love was available for Monday’s win over the Lakers, he did not check into the game. Instead, it was Highsmith and rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. who logged Miami’s minutes at power forward.
The Miami Heat made the long-expected decision to start Haywood Highsmith over Kevin Love at power forward.
Highsmith played well as the team’s starter, tallying a modest stat line of five points, a rebound, an assist, a steal and a block. The Heat outscored the Lakers by 10 points in his 22 minutes.
His night was highlighted by a leaping steal of an Austin Reaves pass followed by a made 3-pointer on the other end.
With Highsmith in the starting lineup, the Heat become much more dynamic defensively. There was more switching and strategic use of zone, and the Heat held the Lakers to 108.1 points per 100 possessions. Lakers scorers shot 5 of 13 when guarded by Highsmith.
The starting lineup change also makes room for Jaquez, who has impressed early in his rookie season. Jaquez had nine points, two rebounds and an assist in 18 minutes on Monday night and is no longer under the minutes restriction he had to start the season.
Miami’s revamped rotation features Highsmith in the starting lineup along with Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Coming off the bench are Duncan Robinson, Josh Richardsoin, Jaquez and Thomas Bryant. Love, for now, appears to be out of the rotation. Caleb Martin figures to be part of the rotation when he returns from a knee injury that has sidelined him for the first seven games of the season.