Heat Star Will Miss Remainder of Regular Season With Injury: Report

PJ Tucker

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat in the second half of their game against the New York Knicks at FTX Arena on January 26, 2022.

The Miami Heat were dealt a huge blow concerning starting forward P.J. Tucker on Thursday, April 7. The 36-year-old suffered a calf strain during the Heat’s 144-115 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday, April 5, and his MRI results reveal he’ll miss the rest of the regular season.

Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted, “PJ Tucker MRI showed calf strain. Reevaluated in a week.” The Heat only have two regular-season games left to play before the postseason starts, but the team is likely doing whatever possible to make sure Tucker is healthy when the playoffs begin.

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Next up for the Heat, they face the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, April 8, before taking on the Orlando Magic on Sunday, April 10, at 7 p.m. ET. Miami (52-28) has already clinched their spot in the playoffs, the only question is if they’ll head into the postseason as a No. 1 seed.

By missing the final two games, and the Heat not having to participate in the play-in tournament, Tucker should receive nearly two weeks of rest before the Heat’s postseason starts.

Tucker’s injury “is considered to be a grade 1 calf strain or the least severe on that scale, according to a league source,” Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang reported, which usually heals in seven to 10 days, per VeryWell Health.

The 6-foot-5 defensive anchor who famously refuses to take veteran rest days has appeared in 71 games, (starting 70 of them) averaging 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting 41.5% on threes.

Heat’s Head Coach Erik Spoelstra Will Also Likely Miss the Final 2 Regular Season Games

Erik Spoelstra

GettyHead coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat watches as his team takes on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on November 27, 2021.

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.

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. 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.”

There’s a chance Spoelstra could be back on the sidelines for the Heat’s final regular-season game against the Magic, but that’s only “if he produces consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart before then,” 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.

Markieff Morris & Caleb Martin Can Fill in for Tucker

Moving forward, Miami will likely call on Caleb Martin to step up as a starter which could also provide more minutes for Markieff Morris, who’s largely fallen out of the Heat’s regular rotation with everyone healthy.

Assistant coach Chris Quinn, who’s been filling in for Spoelstra, said he’s hoping Tucker is back and ready to go for the postseason run.

“Obviously the big picture with Tuck and his health, him a big part of what we do defensively, especially,” Quinn said, “but also offensively him being so selfless, he’s always playing for the team. He doesn’t always care about how many shots he’s getting, which is a big factor on our team.”

“So obviously we’ll miss him these last couple of games, but going forward it’s more important that he get healthy.”

As for Morris and Martin filling in, “It’s what we’ve dealt with a lot of the season, guys in and out and people asked to play different roles, depending on the game and the week,” Quinn noted.

“Caleb obviously brings more speed. He’s had a great year, really proved himself. And then ‘Keif brings another veteran presence, physicality, size. So both of those guys have done well when they’ve gotten opportunities to play. And we’ll continue to rely on them without Tuck.”

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