Erik Spoelstra's recent comments suggest he doesn't want Heat starter to change

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Nikola Jovic, who was ejected from Tuesday's game, "We love competition. We love guys getting into all that.”

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat
Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Nikola Jovic has been showing some fire lately, and the Miami Heat seem to like it.

First, there was his involvement in last month’s bench-clearing brawl in New Orleans that resulted in Jovic’s one-game suspension. Jimmy Butler and three Pelicans also served some time.

It took less than two weeks for Jovic to get thrown out of another game.

In Tuesday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, Jovic was called for his second technical foul midway through the third quarter when he gestured to the official in disgust after being called for a foul on Isaiah Stewart. (To his point, there wasn’t much contact on the play.)

Nikola Jovic, who received the first technicals of his career Tuesday, is getting more comfortable as the Miami Heat's starting power forward.

Duncan Robinson, ever the good teammate, ran to pull Jovic away but it was too late. The whistle blew, Jovic got the technical and was automatically ejected from the game.

Jovic’s first technical was for throwing the ball of the stanchion earlier in the game.

Coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t upset with the official’s call on the stanchion rule. It is a rule, he pointed out. He didn’t seem all that upset with Jovic for picking up the second tech, either, saying that players should be allowed an emotional outburst occasionally.

“Will it be a teaching moment? Yes,” Spoelstra said. “But at the same time, I like his emotions. I like him being enthusiastic about competition. It matters to him.”

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These were Jovic’s first technical fouls of his career. He didn’t pick up a single technical in his first 42 appearances, then picked up two in less than two quarters on Tuesday. He finished with eight points, four rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.

But Spoelstra doesn’t want to curb Jovic’s enthusiasm. 

“As you get a little bit more comfortable, your personality can come out a little bit more, and that’s a good thing,” Spoelstra said. “I’m not going to try to squash that. We love passion. We love competition. We love guys getting into all that.”

Jovic, who has started at power forward in his last seven games, has emerged as an important part of Miami’s rotation and is making a case to be the starter long-term.

“He’s taking advantage of his opportunity,” said Bam Adebayo before elaborating on what Jovic adds to the starting lineup. “He’s a great passer, a willing passer, and when you play alongside someone like that it just makes your five much more dynamic.”

Adebayo also joked, “We gotta keep him in the game!”

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