Olynyk makes a big splash in Heat scrim­mage

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By TIM REYNOLDS AP Bas­ket­ball Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Habits are some­thing Mi­ami coach Erik Spoel­stra talks about of­ten with his club, that word be­com­ing as much of his ev­ery­day ver­nac­u­lar as prob­a­bly any other.

Kelly Olynyk has no­ticed. He's also no­ticed that habits can be tough to break.

High on the to-do list for the Heat dur­ing this train­ing camp that ended with a scrim­mage Satur­day was this: Get­ting Olynyk, the for­mer Bos­ton Celtics for­ward who signed a four-year deal with Mi­ami this sum­mer, as in­volved as pos­si­ble with a core that largely re­turned in­tact from last sea­son. It's a process, though both Spoel­stra and Olynyk said af­ter­ward they like the way things are head­ing.

“When you've been in this league for four, five years, what­ever it is, and where you were you've done it one way the whole time, that's kind of in­grained in your mind,” Olynyk said. “And over four, five years those ac­tions be­come habits and those habits be­come rou­tines and rit­u­als. Now when you flip the script and you're get­ting into a game or a scrim­mage, your body au­to­mat­i­cally drives to­ward those habits rather than what you're quote-un­quote sup­posed to do.”

Old habits in­deed die hard. When Heat guard Josh Richard­son went down the lane in the third quar­ter of the scrim­mage, Olynyk - who was a bit of a pest, to put it nicely, in past games against Mi­ami = sprang into ac­tion and de­fended the paint with his usual vigor.

Richard­son got a bloody nose for his ef­forts.

“He can f oul some­one else now,” Richard­son said.

Richard­son could at least laugh about it af­ter­ward, and after a scrim­mage where Olynyk's in­side game, out­side game, pass­ing abil­ity and de­fen­sive ag­gres­sion were all on dis­play at var­i­ous times, Spoel­stra seemed quite con­tent.

“To be fair, we're get­ting to know him,” Spoel­stra said of the no­tice­ably slimmed­down Olynyk. “We want to be open to his skillset. We want to chal­lenge our­selves to be able to uti­lize that ver­sa­til­ity in as many dy­namic ways as pos­si­ble, but do it at a healthy rate.”

Mi­ami is bring­ing back its top nine scor­ers in terms of points-per-game from a sea­son ago, plus has Jus­tise Winslow re­turn­ing from shoul­der surgery and is find­ing ways to get Olynyk and rookie Bam Ade­bayo in the mix as well.

That's a lot of can­di­dates, and not enough jobs. It's tough to en­vi­sion Spoel­stra ever go­ing past 10 play­ers in his nor­mal ro­ta­tion, 11 at the most. But Olynyk was able to show his new team­mates right away that he could be a big help for a team that went 30-11 in the sec­ond half of last sea­son.

“Kelly just fit right in be­cause of so many things he can do,” Heat guard Dion Wait­ers said. “He's a guy who can stretch the floor, he can post up, he can pass the ball out of the post, he can do a lot of dif­fer­ent things.” Those are the habits the Heat want.

“There's still a pro­gres­sion,” Olynyk said. “I'm still get­ting used to things.”

NOTES: Mi­ami opens its six-game pre­sea­son sched­ule Sun­day at home against At­lanta. ... PG Go­ran Dragic didn't play much in the scrim­mage, since the Heat are still be­ing cau­tious with him after all the work he did this sum­mer lead­ing Slove­nia to gold at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships. ... Spoel­stra, on what got done in camp: “How hard we want to play, that habit, that dis­po­si­tion, the com­mit­ment de­fen­sively, we laid the first few bricks of the foun­da­tion. We still have a ways to go with that.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF CELTICSLIFE.COM

Mi­ami Heat sign Kelly Olynyk.

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