It’s not that things were going great when Jimmy Butler was healthy for the Heat—Miami had split its four-game road trip, with losses in Washington and Minnesota. But during the final game of the junket, Butler fell awkwardly and bruised his backside pretty badly, and he’s been out four games since then. Life’s tough in the NBA.
The Heat lost Bam Adebayo to a thumb injury upon their return from the trip, and things have fallen apart for Miami, with three losses in their last four games. Finally, though some good news: Butler, according to a report from Five Reasons Sports, will play on Monday against Memphis.
It will be hard enough on Miami trying to win without Adebayo, but it’s been doubly tough without Butler on hand. He is averaging 23.6 points on the season, with 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists, and has proven difficult to replace in the team’s rotation. The Heat are 11-6 when Butler is playing, and 2-4 when he does not.
In his Heat career, Miami is 82-45 when Butler plays and 15-26 when he does not.
Injuries Mounting for the Heat
Even with the return of Butler, there remains frustration in Miami around the state of the Heat—at least when it comes to the team’s health. For the second straight season, injuries are making the early going difficult and the Heat simply do not have the depth to cope.
The Heat are 14-10, which is good for fifth in the East, but the team was 6-1 out of the gate, and looked like a championship contender as experienced veteran additions Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris—all of whom have championship rings—bolstered the key trio of Butler, Adebayo and Tyler Herro.
But then injuries kicked in. The team’s original starting five—Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Butler, Tucker and Adebayo—played 14 games together, but coach Erik Spoelstra has tinkered with Herro in the starting five with Butler out and has had Dewayne Dedmon fill in for Adebayo at center.
Adebayo will be out for about two months after having surgery on his thumb. There is still no update from the team on the status of Morris, who went down with whiplash against Denver, taking a violent shove from Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, on November 8.
Heat Digging Deep Into the Bench
Getting Butler back will help mask some of the Heat’s issues, but the problem is that they’re doubling up on injuries at the same position. Ideally, Morris would be used off the bench behind Tucker, or as a small-ball center behind Adebayo. But the absence of both him and Adebayo means Miami must dig deep at the position, giving minutes to untested Turkish big man Omer Yurtseven.
Yurtseven played 43 minutes in his last two games after playing 41 minutes in his previous 13 games.
“We need a little bit of time just to assess everything and formulate a new plan, a new direction,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, per the Miami Herald. “Collectively as a group, we’ll make the necessary adjustments. When you lose an All-Star player, it’s never easy. But this is the league. “When I look around the league, I see a lot of teams dealing with injuries and guys out and guys coming back. There’s a lot of that going on right now and we just have to weather the storm and recalibrate and figure out a new plan, new direction, which our guys are very capable of doing.”