The Miami Heat (44-22) currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference and it seems the team’s biggest “problem” is having too much talent on the roster.
With the return of Victor Oladipo, who looked fantastic in his first game of the 2021-22 NBA season on Monday night, scoring 11 points with four assists and two charges in just under 15 minutes of play, the Heat suddenly have yet another All-Star dual-threat on its roster.
In addition to Oladipo getting back in the game during the Heat’s 123-106 victory over the Houston Rockets, Kyle Lowry also returned after missing four consecutive games due to personal reasons. In fact, it was Lowry who set up Oladipo’s first basket, a corner three in the second quarter. Oladipo’s first points in 11 months.
There’s a lot to celebrate with Oladipo’s return and Lowry being back in the mix, but having two All-Stars reintegrated back into the lineup ultimately pushed Max Strus and Gabe Vincent out from the regular rotation.
Both Strus and Vincent sat on the bench until the final few minutes of the game, when Miami was already up by 18 points – a rarity for the former two-way players. Their loss of minutes was not lost on Oladipo, who thanked them both during his postgame presser.
“A big shout out to Max and Gabe,” Oladipo said. “They’ve been playing really well. And for them to sacrifice their minutes, I know that’s not easy. So I really appreciate them for that.”
The love was mutual. Following Monday night’s win, both Strus and Vincent posted tributes to Oladipo on Instagram, celebrating his return.
Spoelstra Brushed Off Questions About Having Too Much Depth, ‘We Need Everybody’
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra is not worried about having too much depth on the roster. “That’s for amateurs. People talking about you have too much talent or you got too many decisions to make,” Spoelstra said. “Yeah, good. I’ve been on the other side of it where you don’t have a realistic chance to try to do something special. That’s a whole lot more frustrating.”
In Heat culture, the only goal is to do whatever it takes to win. And this current team is looking for a championship title this season.
“Guys understand the opportunity with this group,” Spoelstra continued. “It’s not all going to be perfect. Everybody is not always going to be happy, but we have a really mature group in this locker room. They understand the big picture. We’re going to need everybody.”
Tyler Herro Also Gave Strus & Vincent a Shout-Out Following Monday Night’s Win
Heat guard Tyler Herro, who’s thriving in his role as the team’s sixth man, understands what it’s like to have your regular position on the lineup suddenly change.
Herro, who scored 31 points against the Rockets, prides himself as a reserve player and said during his postgame conference that Oladipo’s return doesn’t make Vincent and Strus’ roles on the team any less important.
“Just coming into the year, we talked about being the best bench in the league,” Herro said. “We continue to try to emphasize that day by day, game by game. We have a bunch of guys who can fit in and impact the game. Max and Gabe didn’t play much, but they can come in and do the same thing. Impacting winning and just make winning plays at the end of the day. So with our bench, it’s just continue to evolve and keep striding forward.”