The Miami Heat’s season led to late May. the beginning of summer league remains quite three weeks away. and therefore the 2021-22 NBA season isn’t scheduled to open until Oct. 19. But it felt a touch sort of a Heat game day Saturday night, with four players from the Heat’s season-ending roster in action during a pre-Olympic matchup between Team USA and therefore the Nigerian national team. The result was shocking. Nigeria achieved a huge upset during a 90-87 convert Team the USA to open pre-Olympic exhibition play in Las Vegas on Saturday. consistent with Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, USA Basketball was a 28.5-point favorite. Nigeria made 20 threes, outscoring Team USA 60-30 from the three-point range.
Heat center Bam Adebayo played for Team USA, and center Precious Achiuwa, forward KZ Okpala, and Gabe Vincent played for Nigeria. Both countries have already qualified for the Olympics, which begin July 23. All four Heat players started for his or her respective teams on Saturday. Adebayo started alongside Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, and Kevin Durant for Team USA. Achiuwa, Okpala, and Vincent started alongside Ike Nwamu and Josh Okogie. Adebayo is already on the U.S. 12-man Olympic roster, while Nigeria plans to hold a roster of 16 players for its exhibition schedule. meaning Achiuwa, Okpala and Vincent haven’t technically made the Olympic team yet, with Nigeria wanting to cut its roster to 12 players for the Tokyo Games.
Here’s how the Heat’s players fared in Saturday’s exhibition game: Vincent, who also represented Nigeria at the 2019 World Cup, led the three-point barrage with a game-high 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from deep. He also finished with two rebounds and 4 assists in 19 minutes. “The win was great,” Vincent said. “We knew we could compete. We knew we could play well against an excellent team and that we showed that tonight. … We understand that it’s an exhibition. We understand our ultimate goal wasn’t to beat the USA during this exhibition. It’s to medal in Tokyo, and our eyes are still assailed that.” a powerful showing within the Olympics would likely boost Vincent’s stock within the NBA. Since he finished this past season on a two-way deal, the warmth has got to decide whether to increase a qualifying offer to Vincent to form him a restricted free agent this offseason and gain the proper to match offers from other teams.
A qualifying offer doesn’t necessarily mean Vincent, 25, is going to be a part of the Heat’s 15-man roster next season. The qualifying offer could become another two-way contract unless Miami is forced to match standard contract offers Vincent receives as a restricted free agent. This past season with the warmth, Vincent averaged 4.8 points while shooting 37.8 percent from the sector and 30.9 percent on threes, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 50 regular-season games (seven starts). Vincent’s outside shooting went cold this past season, but his growth as a fringe defender impressed. And, because it seems, his outside shooting was the catalyst behind his performance on Saturday. With Adebayo playing alongside four elite shooters almost every minute he’s on the court with Team USA, he’s getting to have many opportunities to require advantage of the space that makes within the paint.
Adebayo was utilized in tons of pick-and-roll sets and rolled hard to the basket into that space against Nigeria. With Achiuwa defending him for many of the sport, Adebayo finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 17 minutes. He made one among the 2 midrange jumpers he attempted. While Adebayo started the sport, he didn’t finish it. Team USA coach Gregg Popovich subbed Adebayo out with 2:46 to play and went with a lineup that featured Draymond Green because the big within the final minutes of the competition . Achiuwa finished with three points on 1-of-4 shooting and 7 rebounds in 17 minutes, together with his only made shot approaching an open three-pointer. He attempted only one three with the warmth this past season and missed it.
But Achiuwa’s most impressive moment of the night came within the second quarter when he came from the weak side to swat away a Durant dunk attempt together with his left. Nigeria head coach Mike Brown, who is additionally an assistant coach for the California Warriors, has complimented Achiuwa’s defense in training camp. He noted recently that it seemed like Achiuwa guarded seven players on one practice possession. “Only five were on the ground,” Brown said with amusement. “I don’t know, he guarded two other guys on the sideline then he got the block at the top of the possession. I went up to him afterward, I said, ‘Precious, that’s what we’d like from you.’” Achiuwa also gabbed a critical defensive rebound with 1.4 seconds to play to assist Nigeria to hold on for the upset win.
Achiuwa, 21, is one among only five Heat players who entered this summer with a guaranteed salary for next season. He averaged five points on 54.4 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks in 61 regular-season games (four starts) as a rookie with the warmth this past season. Okpala, 22, didn’t do much offensively Saturday. He finished scoreless, shooting 0 of 4 from the sector and 0 of three on threes in 20 minutes. But Okpala (6-8 and 215 pounds) proved to be an efficient and really versatile defender. He started the sport on the 6-2 Lillard and entered within the final minute of the fourth quarter to defend the 6-10 Durant.
“KZ may be a remarkable talent,” Brown said recently. “This may be a young man that has, in my opinion, an opportunity to be, obviously, an elite defender. But, and these are high expectations, within the short time that I’ve had him, he is often a Defensive Player of the Year type candidate once he figures some things bent get consistent minutes on the ground. His length, his athleticism, his size, his strength, his want to play defense and be great at it’s off the charts.” This game experience with Nigeria is vital for Okpala because he has yet to seek out a uniform role with the warmth in his first two NBA seasons. He has played more minutes within the G League (572) than within the NBA (473) during his professional career.
Like Adebayo and Achiuwa, Okpala is among the five Heat players who entered this offseason with a guaranteed salary for next season. consistent with Tim Reynolds from the Associated Press, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and forward Udonis Haslem were attending to observe Saturday’s practice game. Spoelstra served because the Team USA Select Team head coach this past week.