Heat’s Head Coach Could Miss Remainder of Regular Season

Erik Spoelstra

Getty Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat look on against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at FTX Arena on February 28, 2022.

The Miami Heat‘s head coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to miss the team’s road game against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, April 3, due to health and safety protocols, and based on league rules, it seems likely he won’t return to the sidelines until the postseason.

While numerous NBA coaches have missed time due to COVID-19, it’s been a minute since the virus has affected the Heat, and it’s the first time this season that Spoelstra has missed a game due to health and safety protocols.

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The Heat declined to specify the exact reason for Spoelstra’s absence, but the announcement coincided with the team traveling across the border. “The Heat was subject to a round of COVID-19 testing upon entering Canada on Sunday in order to return home because of U.S. restrictions,” Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang reported.

Stateside, the NBA has done away with daily COVID-19 testing unless a staff member or player is symptomatic. Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman provided a key update’s on Spoelstra’s status on Monday, April 4. “Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra is back in South Florida,” Winderman tweeted. “He drove to Buffalo and then took a private plane back to Miami. He still must get a negative Covid test or else remain out for five days.”

Luckily, Spoelstra is the only member of the Heat’s traveling party to test positive for COVID-19. Prior to Sunday’s night matchup against the Raptors, the Heat were in Chicago, where they crushed the Bulls in a 127-109 victory. Thus far, there have been no reports of an outbreak in Chicago’s locker room.

On April 4, Bulls reporter Julia Poe reported that the Bulls head coach, Billy Donovan wasn’t too stressed after learning about Spoelstra’s diagnosis.

“Donovan kept things pretty light about Heat coach Erik Spoelstra entering COVID protocols after Saturday’s game in Chicago,” Poe tweeted, “My wife said to me after the game, ‘I saw you shake his hand, did you wash your hands before you came home?’ I said, ‘I don’t really remember.'”

“Donovan acknowledged that restrictions are easing back up, and with that COVID numbers are rising,” Poe added. “The league is starting to see players pop back into protocol. Notable: not all Bulls players are required to test right now due to prior positives/boosters.”

The Heat Only Have 3 Regular-season Games Remaining

As it stands, Spoelstra’s five-day quarantine will run through Friday, which means he’ll at least miss Tuesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets and Friday’s tilt against the Atlanta Hawks.

There’s a chance Spoelstra could be back on the sidelines for the Heat’s final regular-season game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, April 10, at 7 p.m. ET, but that’s only “if he produces consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart before then,” Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang reported.

“For those who test positive, the quarantine period is five days for asymptomatic and vaccinated NBA players and coaches to return if testing data shows they’re no longer at risk to be infectious,” Chiang noted.

Assistant Coach Quinn Got His First Win on Sunday Night

The Heat are 51-28 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Hornets and have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, which takes some of the pressure off of Quinn, who’s filling in while Spoelstra is out.

Quinn first took over as head coach this season on March 26, when Spoelstra missed the game due to one of his sons requiring surgery. The Heat lost 110-95 to the Brooklyn Nets.

However, Quinn faired much better in Toronto on Sunday night, leading the team to a 114-109 win over the Raptors. Afterward, the players celebrated his first victory as head coach by dousing him with water in the locker room.

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