Heading into the NBA Finals against the Lakers, the Miami Heat were already facing long odds. They were the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, a decent but unremarkable bunch for the bulk of the season. Even as they clicked and found a rhythm in the NBA’s restart, the Heat still were underestimated, listed as underdogs in their conference semifinals series against Milwaukee and the East finals against the Celtics.
For the Finals, it was more of the same—the bookmakers in Las Vegas had L.A. as major favorites, with bettors needing to lay down $350 to win $100.
The last thing the Heat needed on Wednesday night when their series with the Lakers opened was a blowout loss that came alongside a rash of injuries. Alas, that is what they got, dropping the series opener to the Lakers by 18 points.
Starting point guard Goran Dragic did not come out of the locker room for the second half of Game 1, having injured his left foot after landing—only slightly—on the foot of Lakers guard Rajon Rondo while making a pass. He did not return to the game and it was later revealed that he tore part of his left plantar fascia.
In the third quarter, things got worse, as All-Star big man Bam Adebayo also went to the locker room with an apparent injury to his left shoulder. The team said Adebayo would not return but added that X-rays taken on the shoulder came back negative.
Miami Heat Injuries Did Not Appear Severe
The frustrating aspect of the injuries for the Heat is that both appeared to be minor when they happened. A look at the play on which Dragic got hurt shows that the amount of contact he had with Rondo was minimal and that his foot injury must have occurred because of a bad landing.
Adebayo’s injury has more backstory. He suffered an injury to his arm in Game 4 of the series against the Celtics, and struggled subsequently in Game 5. But he rebounded with a stellar performance in the Game 6 clincher (32 points, 14 rebounds, five assists) against Boston, seemingly putting the concern about his arm to rest.
But he landed awkwardly on the shoulder with more than seven minutes to play in the third quarter and was taken to the locker room. A minute later, Adebayo was walking slowly on up the floor, holding his arm. That was it for him on the night.
The two plays:
Bam Adebayo Was Slated to Match Up With Anthony Davis
Dragic entered the Finals playing some of the best basketball of his career, even at age 34. He averaged 20.9 points in 15 playoff games, with 4.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds. That is, of course, a major loss for the Heat and speculation held that he might not return for the remainder of the NBA Finals. He is not ruling out a return, however.
Still Adebayo would be the bigger loss. He was expected to be critical in this series as the Heat try to cope with the performances of Lakers forwards LeBron James and, especially, Anthony Davis. Adebayo is one of the best young defenders in the game and the Heat were counting on him to slow down and counter Davis’ offensive production.
Adebayo had just eight points on 2-for-8 shooting from the field when he left Game 1. Davis wound up with 34 points on 11-for-21 shooting.
If there is a chance Dragic and/or Adebayo can return for Game 2, they won’t have much time to rest up and heal—the two teams will be back on the floor Friday night.