Miami Heat forward Max Strus, who made it clear that he’s looking to step up into a more permanent role on the team’s rotation this season, suffered a setback during their 129-103 win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
On Monday, it was revealed that Strus suffered a sprained left knee and was ruled out for Tuesday’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, per Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra “sounded relieved with the diagnosis,” Chiang tweeted. “Labeling it as short.”
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The 25-year-old undrafted forward out of DePaul was seen “lifting at Heat practice” on November 1, per Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman, which is a good sign that Strus will return to action sooner than later.
Even better news, the MRI on Strus’s knee came back negative, which is a huge relief considering he previously tore his ACL in that same knee back in December 2019. As for his predicted return, “Max Strus said he thinks he’ll miss a ‘couple weeks,’ but no definitive timetable yet,’ Chiang tweeted.
During Miami’s win against Memphis on Saturday, Strus had his best game of the season thus far, scoring 12 points in 17 minutes of play. But with 4:59 left in the game, Strus fell after his dunk attempt was blocked by Grizzlies center Killian Tillie.
“It just felt awkward,” Strus said of the fall. “Obviously with how I am, I just immediately thought back to what I did before. So I just got scared and it was just in my head. But luckily we’re good… I’ll rehab it and get stronger, and see where we go from there.”
Strus Has Become a More Vocal, Even Though Kyle Lowry Tells Him to ‘Shut Up’
Strus is only entering his second year with the Heat, his first as a standard-contract player, but he isn’t afraid of getting vocal on the court.
“That’s what Spo preaches, leadership from all levels,” Strus said, per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman. “I got a year under my belt here. I know the system. I know what we do and what we want to do. It’s not so much me telling guys what to do. It’s more so trying to help them and show them what we do.”
While it made sense for the 6-foot-5 swingman to take on a leadership role during Miami’s summer league in Las Vegas, where he averaged 20.8 points in 31.2 minutes per game, shooting 40% from deep (18-for-45) and 39.1% from the field (27-for-69) in four contests — but on the Heat’s regular-season roster, which is filled with true NBA veterans, such as Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker, and Markieff Morris — it’s a different story.
“I know who to talk to and who not to,” Strus said “with a smile,” Winderman noted. “So I’ve learned a lesson. Kyle’s told me to shut up once, but most of the time they’re pretty good with it. And they’re big talkers, as well. They want that leadership the same way. They expect it out of me and expect it out of everybody.”
On Monday, Strus wore a black sleeve over his injured knee, and hopes he can jump right back in where he left off when he’s cleared to return.
“It’s part of the game. Injuries happen,” Strus said. “I’ll work my way back into [the rotation]. Whatever happens, happens and hopefully, the spot is still there when I come back.”
Bam Adebayo Is Expected to Return for Tuesday’s Game Vs. Mavericks
Aside from Victor Oladipo, the only other Heat player on the team’s injury list is All-Star Bam Adebayo. While he sat out Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies, he was a full participant at practice on Monday, “which is encouraging for tomorrow’s game vs. Mavericks in Dallas,” Chiang tweeted.
Thus far this season, Adebayo is averagine 20.6 points and 14 rebounds per game.