Martin played 28 minutes off the bench in the game and finished the night with 21 points, four boards and two assists. After the contest, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra offered major praise for Martin, comparing him to former NBA star Shawn Marion.
Erik Spoelstra compared Caleb Martin to Shawn Marion (“The Matrix”) and said he told Caleb that in the locker room after the game. pic.twitter.com/JdYkj9dQoa
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) March 7, 2023
“Caleb was outstanding again,” he said. “I just told him he’s our version of the Matrix. I feel blessed to have been able to coach the real Matrix and now this version of the Matrix, but he’s just so active and inspiring with his activity.”
Clearly, Spoelstra was very happy to get the win versus the Hawks.
Martin was not the only member of the Heat’s bench that Spoelstra praised. In fact, he commended the entire unit. The group absolutely deserved it, as the Heat would have likely lost by double digits had the bench not shown up last night.
Victor Oladipo dropped 22 points, and Duncan Robinson added 14 points. Their contributions were crucial because a number of Heat starters struggled to fill up the basket.
With the win, the Heat have afforded themselves some much-needed breathing room for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Of course, the goal going forward is to claim at least the No. 6 spot, as that is the final seed that gets to advance straight into the playoff bracket without having to worry about winning in the play-in tournament.
With the win, the Heat have a 2.5-game lead for that seventh seed, and the Hawks are the team right behind them.
Martin had been a consistent figure in the Heat’s starting lineup until Feb. 24 when he was moved to a bench role. He’s been performing quite well in his new role, averaging 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game since then. It will be interesting to see if Monday’s performance convinces Spoelstra to move Martin back into the starting unit.
Wherever he is placed in the rotation, it’s clear that he’s going to continue to be a valuable X factor for Miami. After a very slow start following the All-Star break, the Heat are seemingly starting to figure some stuff out. They’re currently on a two-game winning streak.