The Miami Heat have been without center Bam Adebayo since he injured his hand on November 29, 2021, and while the All-Star has been seen working out and warming up with the team recently, an official update on his return timetable was not revealed until Friday, January 14.
ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the good news that Adebayo will rejoin the team on Monday, January 17, when the Heat host the Toronto Raptors at the FTX Arena.
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“After right thumb surgery six weeks ago, Miami Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo is targeting a return vs. the Toronto Raptors on Monday, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “Adebayo – who averages 18.7 points and 10.2 rebounds — has been ramping up on the court this week.”
Almost two months ago, Adebayo suffered a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb during Miami’s 120-110 loss to the Denver Nuggets and underwent surgery that following weekend. Even with a busted thumb, Adebayo still managed to put up 24 points in 35 minutes of play against the Nuggets.
Dewayne Dedmon Filled in for Adebayo Until He Also Got Injured & Omer Yurtseven Took Over
The Heat’s starting has been a revolving door of news players signed under 10-day contracts under the NBA’s hardship rules and whichever roster members were healthy and available to play.
Initially, backup center Dewayne Dedmon took over Adebayo’s role. However, the 32-year-old veteran suffered a Grade 1-Plus MCL sprain on his left knee during the Heat’s 115-112 win over Detriot Pistons on December 23 and wasn’t able to return until Miami’s most recent game against the Atlanta Hawks on January 13.
While Dedmon was out, rookie Omer Yurtseven took over as the team’s starting center and proved to be much more than just a 7-foot stand-in. The undrafted player out of Georgetown has recorded 156 rebounds since December 17 and recorded a career-high eight assistants during the Heat’s win against the Phoneix Suns on Saturday, January 8.
With Adebayo’s return, Heat Nation can rest easy knowing the insane amount of depth the Heat have at the center position.
Despite Having Over Half the Team Out Due to Injuries or Protocols, Miami Is In 2nd Place in the Eastern Conference
While most teams would flounder having so many players unavailable to play, the Heat are in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 26-15 record, just two games behind the first-place Chicago Bulls.
The Heat’s three biggest stars, Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Lowry have only been available during the team’s first 14 games of the season, which has left Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra scrambling the starting lineup for nearly every game since.
While Markieff Morris hasn’t played since taking a blindside hit from Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic on November 8, 2021, and Victory Oladipo has yet to play in a game this season the following players have also been out for long stretches of time over the past few months:
Tyler Herro missed seven games, Caleb Martin and Max Strus both missed nine games, Gabe Vincent missed five games, P.J. Tucker was out for six games, and KZ Okpala was unavailable for eight games.
Making things even more difficult, the Heat have played 25 games on the road and just 16 at home.
Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who also missed a slew of games after contracting COVID-19, explained why he thinks the Heat are thriving against all odds.
“I think what this team has learned to do is just continue to have to find a way to win,” Robinson said, per Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang. “Different lineups, different people in and out, different ways as well. We’ve had games where we’ve won with both teams below 100. We’ve had games where we’ve won in the 100s. I think it has been a great opportunity for a bunch of guys to step up and I think it’s also showcased out depth.”
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