MIAMI — There won’t be any overblown reactions from either the Utah Jazz or the Miami Heat after the Heat walked away with a 118-115 win on Saturday night.
Instead, both teams will leave this one with reasoned and level-headed reflection and an understanding of how they can use it as a building block.
“It’s Game 9,” Heat guard Kyle Lowry said. “That is a great team over there with a superstar in Donovan Mitchell and great basketball players. They did a good job and we found a way to win.”
The Jazz trailed the Heat by 19 points with 5:20 left to play and could have very easily decided to pack it in, rest their stars and get ready for their Sunday night back-to-back game in Orlando.
Instead, they ratcheted up the defensive focus and execution and made smart plays with the ball to make it a one-point game with 11.5 seconds to play.
“We competed, especially late, when it would have been easy to cave,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “These types of games, you hopefully learn about yourself and how to play and how to play against a certain style.”
It’s these high-level, down-to-the-wire games that are the most valuable when they’re watching film, when they are looking at how the elite teams of the league are guarding them, at what kind of shots the Jazz are allowing and how they can better make players work for their points.
It’s these close games that show the smaller things that the Jazz need to refine through the course of this long season.
“After tonight, understanding that if we played like we play the last seven minutes throughout the whole game, we’re a pretty hard team to beat,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us.”
While the Jazz will be reviewing what they should have done differently through the first three quarters, the Heat are also taking lessons from this game.
Miami will be looking at how it lost its lead in the fourth quarter. The Heat don’t want that kind of run to happen against them when the games feel like they have more value at the end of the season, or even more so in the playoffs.
“To go through these kind of experiences, late-game situations, learning how to hold on to a lead and how to play, I think it was really important to go through that and obviously it is always better to go through that and get a win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But there are certainly some things we can take away from that and learn.”
The Jazz and Heat went into Saturday’s game as the leading teams in their respective conferences and expected exactly what they got. They knew it was going to be a dog fight and that neither side was going to let the other win easily. They knew they would learn from the game and, at the end of the night, they know that it’s just a single game, early on in a very long season.