Erik Spoelstra showers Nikola Jovic with love after standout game for Miami Heat'
3 Min Read
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised young forward Nikola Jovic after his standout performance against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

Jovic led the way for Miami with a team-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 5-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc. He also added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in the game.

“Niko was very good,” Spoelstra said. “The points, that will make everybody notice, but he generates more inertia for our team in transition.”

The Heat were without Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson on Tuesday night, but the team had several players – including Jovic – step up to upset the Bucks in Milwaukee. Miami’s 123-97 win was one of the team’s most lopsided victories of the 2023-24 season.

Duncan Robinson, who also played a great game for the Heat on Tuesday night (23 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 6-for-8 from 3-point range), praised Jovic after the win.

“I just thought he totally changed the game tonight with his pace,” Robinson said.

A first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Jovic hasn’t been able to cement a consistent role in the Heat rotation yet in his career, but he stepped up when given the opportunity against Milwaukee.

This season, the 20-year-old forward has appeared in 21 games, making 13 starts. He’s averaging 6.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 16.7 minutes per game while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Miami would love for Jovic to develop into a piece that Spoelstra is comfortable using in the rotation on a nightly basis, and it’s possible that Tuesday’s performance will go a long way toward him seeing regular playing time this season.

Through his first two NBA seasons, Jovic has only appeared in 36 games as the Heat try to ease him into the league.

Prior to his standout game against Milwaukee, Jovic had played sparingly since his last start, which came on Jan. 21 against the Orlando Magic. He had appeared in just three games since then, playing less than eight minutes in each of them.

However, the young forward was clearly ready when he was called upon to step up on Tuesday night.

It’ll be interesting to see how Jovic follows up that performance on Wednesday when the Heat take on the Philadelphia 76ers. The two Eastern Conference contenders are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. EST from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Share This Article
Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.