Nikola Mirotic is no stranger to coming off the bench. After all, that’s how he spent most of his first year in the NBA last season.
So call Friday a reunion.
Not exactly a good one for the second-year power forward.
Prior to the game with Dallas, coach Fred Hoiberg announced that not only was Mirotic was out of the starting lineup, but the experiment to play him at the three-spot was going to take a few steps back.
“The big thing is talking to him, try and build up the confidence,’’ Hoiberg said of Mirotic. “He’s going to be fine, I’m confident in that. We’ll get him back out there probably a little bit more at the four, and it’s probably a little more of a natural position for him. Look to build some confidence, utilize him in a little different manner.
“I think that’s a good lineup for him, so we’ll get him out there a little bit more with that second group at the four spot and hopefully that will help him get into a little better rhythm.’’
It couldn’t hurt.
Before making yet another change to the starting lineup, Hoiberg watched Mirotic struggle over his last three games, going 11-for-34 from the field, including missing his first eight shots against Philadelphia on Thursday, finishing 2-for-13 on the night. Mirotic also had five turnovers in the overtime win against the Sixers.
“The four is the position I’ve been playing all my life,’’ Mirotic said of the move. “I had a good experience at the three.
“But it’s fine. Whatever they think is best for the team. I need to adjust.’’
It was the second time this season that Mirotic had a starting spot, only to lose it, and now it will be Hoiberg’s job to make sure that the 24-year-old doesn’t check out. He’s still expected to play solid minutes, and is considered one of the core players moving forward.
Rise and shine
Doug McDermott’s fourth-quarter dunk from the Thursday win was still the talk in the locker room a day later, especially after Hoiberg joked that he ‘’didn’t know [McDermott] could dunk.’’
“I need to get some more lob plays,’’ McDermott said with a laugh. “I mean I’ve known I’ve had that. I do it in practice. People said that was my first dunk of the year, but they’re wrong. I had one at Philly my first time there.’’