The Miami Heat’s rivalry with the Hawks added a twist with last week’s hiring of Quin Snyder as Atlanta coach.
Now a former Erik Spoelstra mentor is mentoring the Hawks.
Amid the Heat’s two-game series against the Hawks at Miami-Dade Arena, Spoelstra noted the relationship between the former prep prodigies from the Pacific Northwest, Spoelstra from the Portland arena, Snyder from the Seattle area.
“He’s a great basketball coach and a really good guy,” Spoelstra, 52, said. “I’ve actually known Quin since I was 14.
“We played on the same traveling AAU team. He was on the senior team, I was on the junior team. So he was actually like our chaperone at one of these tournaments. But I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time, and it’s a great fit for him.”
Snyder, 56, picked up on the relationship from there.
“It dates back to I think Oregon prep camp, when our high school team went down there, and the fact that I can’t remember some of the details suggests that I didn’t play very well,” Snyder said with a laugh. “We weren’t hanging out every day. But I do, and I think he does, as well, recall a connection through that.
“And it’s something that I’ve enjoyed watching him over the years, and obviously have tremendous respect for him and his path and certainly being an elite coach in this league. And that’s deserved, year after year, what he’s been able to do is really, really impressive. I don’t know that either one of us could tell that we’d be coaching in the NBA.”
Starting power forward Kevin Love was ruled out at midday from Monday night’s game against the Hawks due to a bruised right rib.
It is the first game Love has missed since joining the Heat on Feb. 20 during the All-Star break after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers in a buyout,
Love’s absence comes ahead of the Heat’s two-game home set against the Cavaliers on Wednesday and Friday nights, the Heat’s only remaining games against Cleveland this season.
Cleveland agreed to the buyout with Love after the 34-year-old former All-Star had lost his spot in the Cavaliers’ rotation, held out for his final 12 games with the team before being waived.
Love immediately moved into the Heat starting lineup, averaging 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in those six appearances.
Love’s absence comes with center Omer Yurtseven and forward Jamal Cain returning from assignments with the Heat’s G League affiliate.
Remaining sidelined for the Heat are point guard Kyle Lowry, with the knee soreness that has had him out since Feb. 2, and rookie big man Nikola Jovic, who has been out due to a lower-back stress reaction since Dec. 28.
Yurtseven said his two-game stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce over the weekend took his recovery from November ankle surgery to the next level.
In his two games in South Dakota, Yurtseven averaged 27.5 points on .489 shooting, and 13.5 rebounds. It was his second G League stint, having played 14 games in the G League in 2021 with the Oklahoma City Thunder affiliate.
“It feels amazing, playing those two games back to back,” Yurtseven said after Monday morning’s shootaround at Miami-Dade Arena.
Yurtseven said he felt at home with the Skyforce.
“I think the culture is there, too,” he said, “the way that they and we preach. And it was amazing to have that home culture environment there, and to be able to play with the guys there to get back into 100 percent shape.”