Heat facing separation anxiety with Johnson & Johnson?

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

Evolution has been the goal since the start of training camp, to take the elements of last season to a higher level.

And yet when it comes to Johnson & Johnson, the experimentation has come with the risk of regression for the Miami Heat as they head into Saturday's exhibition against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center.

What James Johnson and Tyler Johnson accomplished in unison for the Heat off the bench last season was among the reasons why 11-30 at midseason turned into 41-41 at the finish.

But with better than .500 the goal, coach Erik Spoelstra has severed that bond through the first two of the Heat's six exhibitions. James Johnson now starting, a role he inherited late last season out of injury necessity, with Tyler Johnson still sparking the second unit.

In the Heat offense, the goal has been good to better to best when it comes to the quality of shot attempts. That seemingly also was the goal in this uneven rotation reshuffle.

"We have to be open to anything and everything at this point," Spoelstra said, with the Heat practicing Friday at an Orlando-area high school. "Even though we brought back several of the same players, a team is never the same. So it's always going to evolve. It's going to be a little bit different. We want to make sure we're maximizing every single unit that's out there."

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Tyler Johnson fueled the Heat with a team-high 21 points in Thursday's shaky 107-88 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets. James Johnson, working this preseason for the first time alongside Dion Waiters in the starting lineup, was just 1 of 4 from the field for two points, after shooting 1 of 5 in Sunday's preseason-opening victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

"Rotations are going to see what's working and what's not working," James Johnson said. "That's what the preseason is for.

"We're still learning each other with the second unit, the first unit and different rotations."

Spoelstra has for the most part fielded two distinct units in the first two exhibitions. But there was a brief span when Johnson & Johnson got to rekindle their chemistry in Thursday's third period, including a sequence that featured James Johnson assisting Tyler Johnson in transition.


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