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For weeks, the Miami Heat felt like a piñata, with opponents constantly puncturing a season that was meant to provide plenty of entertainment.

Now, even with mostly shorthand, it’s the Heat who are the big hitters, riding a three-game winning streak with a chance to go above .500 for the first time this season.

So it’s perhaps fitting that the final stop on this four-game road trip brings them to Mexico City for Saturday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, with a piñata tradition believed to have originated in a town north of Mexico City.

Typically, these international NBA showcases required significant team involvement. But since such events have mostly been derailed during the COVID seasons, it’s more like a business trip for Erik Spoelstra’s team.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be just another 82-game regular season.

It’s a rare opportunity for forward Jimmy Butler to return to the NBA regular-season spotlight with the Heat, even after appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals for two or the past three seasons with limited national television appearances.

“I mean, we take them any way we can get them — home, away, Mexico City — we’ll take it,” said Butler, who is coming off one of his most complete games of the season with 20 points. Had 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocks in Thursday night’s 111-108 win over the Houston Rockets. “Anyway, I’m not really feeling the NBA rocker with the Miami Heat.

“So at least we got to go play somewhere. We don’t get televised games or anything.”

What Arena CDMX fans will get at the 2022 NBA Mexico City game and those watching on NBA TV is one of the league’s hottest players, with Heat guard Tyler Herro finishing with a career-high 35 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. indicator. 41 in a win against the Rockets that lifted the Heat to 15-15.

According to Hero, the splendor of a unique place is best left to others.

“For the most part, we can get a game over .500 and then go home for a week and a half before we go out west,” Herro said. “I think it will be big for us if we can get it on Saturday and then go home and get on with things.

“But one game at a time, just keep it moving.”

A unique game at once, in this case.

For its part, the NBA is keeping it simple for the Heat.

While the NBA is hosting four clinics in conjunction with the game, the Heat’s scheduled representation at those activities is limited to Heat assistant coach Octavio De La Grana and former Heat forward Glen Rice, who serves as the team’s explorer and community ambassador.

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Otherwise, an off day for the team in Mexico City after a Wednesday-Thursday break in Oklahoma City and Houston, a game against the Spurs on Saturday at 5 p.m., and then a home stretch that stretches beyond Christmas with four. from the next five weekends.

This is a trip designed to increase international appreciation of the game. But it’s also one that comes as the Heat try to turn into a more cohesive season in which injuries and absences even this week left the team without Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, among others.

“I think playing basketball every day is still a blessing,” Butler said of the stop south of the border. “But definitely, I think the guys will be able to see the culture and how basketball is loved everywhere in the world.

“I’m trying to play football though. I’m trying to turn the ball over.”

Butler’s football flair aside, he’s still on a business trip, Herro said.

“This whole journey has been important for us since we started five days ago,” Herro said of what began with Monday night’s win over the Indiana Pacers. “We wanted to go out on this journey and do business.

“I hope we can play 4-0. But one game at a time.”

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