After 11 months of rehab and watching from the sidelines while his Miami Heat teammates won games, Victor Oladipo made a big impression with his season debut on Monday. In 15 minutes of play against his previous team, the Rockets, Oladipo scored 11 points and added four assists.
Subsequent appearances have lacked the sizzle of his return game, but people continue to be hyped about what the baller brings to the table for a potential title run.
As such, some eyebrows were raised on Saturday when Oladipo was back on the injury report for Miami’s bout with the Timberwolves. After playing in three straight games for Erik Spoelstra, the combo guard was listed as out due to “right knee injury recovery.”
However, the Heat coach made it clear ahead of the contest that the benching doesn’t warrant the sounding of alarm bells. Rather, it’s all part of Oladipo’s return-to-play plan.
Spoelstra Addresses the Oladipo Situation
According to Spoelstra, Oladipo is getting a night off out of an abundance of caution regarding his right knee/quadriceps tendon. Given his history — the 29-year-old’s quad has been a recurring issue dating back to the 2018-19 campaign — that’s probably a wise approach, too.
“This is just a matter of I’m not going to try to fast track this,” Spoelstra said ahead of the T-Wolves game, via the Sun-Sentinel. “This is going to be about us tempering the expectations. It’s just about getting him game minutes, getting in rhythm, helping us win. And then we’ll be able to build it from there.”
The Heat coach has been thrilled with Oladipo’s progress to this point, noting how big it is for both the player and the team to just have him on the court at all.
“But this is just three games. That is the biggest win of all, the fact that he had had three straight years of frustrating health and injury things that he was dealing with. And this is the biggest victory of all, the fact that he’s out here, able to compete.”
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Oladipo’s Return Gives Spo a Deadly Three-Guard Option
As noted by the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman, 36 of the 48 minutes Oladipo has played since returning have come alongside Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro. And, so far, the three-guard front has the look of a deadly combination, boasting an impressive net rating of 12.6.
However, Spo isn’t looking to render judgment on the two-time All-Star’s performance or his fit with Miami’s other stars at this juncture. Again, he’s playing the long game here.
“Well, they’re all really good basketball players. I mean, come on, these guys will be able to figure it out,” Spoelstra said. “As long as we just quiet the noise and the expectations and we’re disciplined about this, there’s a lot of really good things about that.
“But we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”