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Heat’s Herro overwhelming pick as NBA’s Sixth Man of Year

MIAMI (AP) – Tyler Herro was told before the season began that he wouldn’t be in the Miami Heat starting lineup. To his credit, he saw that as an opportunity.

“I said, ‘Let’s go for Sixth Man of the Year’,” Herro said.

And that’s what he got.

Herro was announced on Tuesday as the NBA’s top sixth man this season, the first player to win the award as a member of the Heat. He averaged 20.7 points, nearly four more per game than any other reserve in the league, plus had a huge role in Miami securing the No 1 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

“It means a lot,” Herro said. “I accepted the sixth-man role for a reason. I wanted to be the best sixth man in the league.”

By overwhelming agreement of the 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league and vote on season-ending awards, that’s what Herro was.

He received 96 first-place votes and 488 total points, well ahead of runner-up Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cameron Johnson of the Phoenix Suns was third.

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro celebrates after a basket during the second half of Game 3 of the team’s NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta. PHOTO: AP

“Everyone who knows me knows I love Tyler Herro’s game (and swag) – much respect on an incredible sixth man campaign,” Love tweeted.

Love got three first-place votes and 214 points in the system where players received five points for a first-place nod, three for second place and one for third. Johnson got one first-place vote and 128 points.

“Tyler was ignitable for this team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was that way all season.”

Herro had eight 30-point games off the bench this season, more than any other three players did combined. The last time a reserve had more than eight 30-point games was 2017-18, when Lou Williams had 11 for the Los Angeles Clippers. Before that, it was 1989-90, when Ricky Pierce had 17 for Milwaukee.

And in those years, Pierce and Williams – two of the best sixth men ever – wound up winning the award that Herro received on Tuesday. Herro got the official word in a ceremony during practice on Tuesday morning, with teammate Udonis Haslem serving as the presenter.

“When you come in and you’re going to be the featured player, that, to me, is a better role than a starting role in a lot of ways,” said Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers, whose 76ers are facing Herro and the Heat in an Eastern Conference semifinal series that resumes soon.

Miami leads the series 1-0, with Herro scoring 25 points in the opener on Monday night.

“You look at the old Celtics with Kevin McHale and (John) Havlicek and you look at history, there’s been a lot of key sixth men to lead teams a championship,” Rivers said. “They end up playing starter minutes. They just don’t start the game.”

McHale was a two-time winner of the award, including in Boston’s 1984 title season. Havlicek was part of eight Celtics championships, six of them as a reserve.