It was a week that started as well as any outside of the 2020 Disney World playoff bubble for Tyler Herro.
On Monday, the Miami Heat’s third-year shooting guard scored 25 to lead the Heat to a series-opening win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
On Tuesday, he was named the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner.
On Wednesday there were 18 points against the 76ers and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
All focus was on Herro.
Eventually, so was all the attention.
Such is the double-edged sword of the NBA playoffs.
And so the double teams and cheats came against the 6-foot-5 guard on Friday night. Ditto for the Heat’s first loss of the series.
That led to a refresher course as the Heat headed into Game 4 on Sunday night at Wells Fargo Center.
“And look, that’s a sign of great respect, how important Tyler is to us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of the focus and energy 76ers coach Doc Rivers unleashed in coaching Herro. “They know when he’s flammable, when he creates a lot more opportunities that aren’t scripted. So they’re trying to weed out some of those who have those traps.
“And they’ve done a really good job of putting a lot of pressure on him, making it hard for him to pass out of the trap. I think he will be better off with it.”
For Spoelstra, this is nothing more than the push and pull of the playoffs.
To adjust. Reset,
So after the 76ers went to school in 22-year-old Herro, school was back in session for the resilient reserve.
“Really, the whole regular season sets you up for the playoffs and times like this,” Herro said. “They’re catching me, putting a little more pressure on me, trying to get the ball out of my hands.
“So I just have to make adjustments, make the right play, make the simple play, just keep watching the movie and make the adjustments.”
There are still plays to be made, Herro said, just maybe in different ways.
“And then being aggressive in different areas through parts of the game, in transition, just in different areas,” he said. “And, like I said, just making the right play, making the simple play, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
When Herro received his Sixth Man award just before the start of Game 2, Rivers was the only 76ers member to applaud.
He was also taking note, imploring his players not to let Herro out of their sight, with so much attention on the Heat’s Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo.
The difference in Game 3, when Herro shot 5-for-15, was that the 76ers also had center Joel Embiid and his intimidating length back in the mix.
“I mean we have to stay aggressive,” Herro said. “We’ve played Joel before. There are parts throughout the game where we can put more paint and spray to open shooters.
“It’s not always about facing him, but about trying to get into the paint. I think that will help. And our offense will be much better.”
What hasn’t changed with Herro is the loot handed out since his arrival in the Kentucky first round in 2019.
So, even in the midst of the Game 3 loss, there was one priceless moment when, after a steal and a touchdown, Herro assaulted Philadelphia Eagles players Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, who were sitting on the line. baseman to the Heat basket, going as far as pointing a finger at Reddick. There, three had earlier rung the ceremonial Liberty Bell at midcourt before the game to rile up the 76ers crowd.
That prompted Reddick, the NFL’s 31-sack man, to take to Twitter. “I don’t appreciate the way Tyler Herro looked at me,” with a playful emoji next to it. Davis just jumped out of his seat and started laughing.