Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Martin embodies mixed metaphor
Heat forward running fly patterns, producing home run plays
PHILADELPHIA — When it comes to load management, it has proven quite the load for Miami Heat management to get forward Caleb Martin to take time off.
Consistently having played through ankle soreness, and refusing to miss more than three games with a hyperextended left knee, Martin again is keeping energy up at a time when others are staggering to the April 10 regular-season finish line.
For coach Erik Spoelstra, it is a welcomed element as he juggles considerable injury absences elsewhere on the roster.
“Yeah, he’s that definition of a Swiss Army knife,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat facing the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center. “You can plug him into a lot of different roles, with different lineups, and he’ll find a way to make it work.
“And that’s a credit to him and his versatility, how he works on his game. He can defend so many different positions. We’ve missed that, he presence on the ball.”
It is the energy that has been embraced since Martin’s arrival, passion that led the Heat converting his two-way deal into a standard contract, now seemingly essential to the playoff roster.
Continually, the 6-foot-5 forward has made the little things count.
“Those plays in between, those are winning plays that don’t necessarily show up anywhere,” Spoelstra said. “But they’re the hustle plays, the deflections, extra possessions, the tip-outs, the cuts, all of those different things just contribute to winning in a big-time way.”
The waiting was the hardest part, with Martin back in Friday night’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at FTX Arena.
“It felt good to be back,” Martin said. “Obviously, I’m always trying to play. If I can go, I’m going to go.”
Still, as a precaution, the Heat again had him listed as questionable for Monday night due to the hyperextended knee.
“Obviously, it’s around the time I have to be smart and obviously the coaches want me to be smart and take care of my body,” he said. “But it was pretty easy to get back in rhythm.
“It took a little bit just trying to find my spots and just getting in there and playing with new guys and stuff like that, that is getting implemented. But I think it was pretty easy.”
And with that, back to being off to the races, consistently providing a moving target in transition for the outlet passes of center Bam Adebayo and point guard Kyle Lowry.
“Obviously anytime Kyle has the ball, trying to be a wide receiver,” Martin said of his fly patterns. “And obviously Bam and him pushing the pace, too, off the rebounds, you never will be asleep when it’s time to go with them guys.
“They’re always looking to push the pace and they’re always looking up. They like to mix in homerun plays.”
For Martin, the thought is that his perpetual motion eases the burden on others, whether it’s Adebayo and Lowry alongside, or the second unit.
“With me,” he said. “I just try to do my job regardless of if it’s them of somebody else in, to create pressure on the wings and make sure I run guys out of plays and just run with a purpose. So, yeah, it’s always fun.
“And it’s really crazy to me that Gabe [Vincent] has picked up a lot from Kyle doing that, too. I feel the same style when Gabe’s in, too, he’s pushing the pace, he’s looking up, he’s trying to throw passes and throw lobs. So, he’s really picked up a lot from Kyle and it’s really shown from him.”
Monday was Vincent’s turn to take a rest, sidelined by a bruised right big toe.
No matter, with there seemingly always a running partner for Martin.
“We play the right way,” Vincent said.