Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Miami Heat Face Crucial Week, Injury and Rotation Updates

This upcoming week is arguably the most critical, in terms of playoff position jockeying, for the Miami Heat, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

Miami (41-33) has four games this week, all against teams with a winning record. It starts tonight at home against the New York Knicks (44-30). The Heat enters tonight’s contest on a two-game winning streak and seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Miami Heat Face Crucial Week, Injury and Rotation Updates

Miami has assured themselves of a play-in spot. But the Heat are looking for more, so they don’t have to endure as tough of a playoff run as they did a year ago.

Miami is in a pretty advantageous position as the Heat have the 11th easiest schedule, per Tankathon, despite facing a tough week. After the game against the Knicks, Miami hosts Philadelphia (40-35) on Thursday. The Heat finishes the week on the road as they are at Houston (38-36) on Friday and Indiana (43-33) on Sunday.

Miami is 17-24 against teams with at least a .500 record this year. The Heat has dropped both matchups against the Knicks and six of the last seven meetings with them.

It will be best to simulate how the playoffs are going to be,” guard Terry Rozier told Chiang about the upcoming stretch. “This is a great four-game stretch, but we got to take it one game at a time. The Knicks we play next, we got to worry about that one, get that one at home, and protect home court.”

Miami Getting Healthy

There is good news for Miami. The Heat are getting healthier.

Of the six players Miami has listed on the NBA injury report, only Tyler Herro and Josh Richardson have been declared out. The other four players, including Duncan Robinson and Rozier, are probable. Kevin  Love was available on Friday for the first time since February 27 but has not played in the Heat’s last two games.

Robinson returned Sunday after a ffive-day absencebut is still recovering from left facet syndrome. Meanwhile, Caleb Martin missed Sunday’s contest due to an ankle issue. Rozier has been dealing with a knee injury for over a month.

Conversely, New York won’t have OG Anunoby and Julius Randle. Mitchell Robinson is questionable due to an ankle injury. The Knicks are 15-13 over the last two-plus months.

Miami has won two of the three meetings against Philadelphia and is 10-6 against the 76ers over the last three years, including the 2022 playoffs. The 76ers may be without Joel Embiid.

Remaining Schedule

The Heat have won seven straight against the Rockets, split their two games with the Pacers, and are 5-3 against Indiana over the last eight matchups.

If Miami can split or go 3-1 over the next four games, the Heat have a real possibility of getting out of the seventh seed. The Heat close the season at Atlanta before returning home for their final three games — Dallas and two versus Toronto.

Overall, Miami has five home games and three on the road. Granted, the Heat haven’t been great at home. They have split their last eight games at the Kaseya Center. The Heat are 19-17 at home with a +1.5 scoring differential.

While Miami hasn’t been great at home, the Heat have thrived on the road. They are a top-10 team on the road with a 22-16 record and a +1.2 scoring margin.

Heat’s Projected Playoff Rotation

So, with nearly everyone back, the Heat can finally get a glimpse of what their play-in-playoff rotation will be. Richardson is out for the season, so Herro is the only player in the Heat’s rotation come playoff times once he returns. There is no timetable for the 24-year-old guard.

No Heat player has appeared in at least 70 of the 74 games, and Jaime Jaquez Jr. has the most appearances at 67. Due to injuries, Miami has used 21 players this season, each appearing in four or more games. Seventeen of the 21 players average at least 10 minutes of action.

Here’s what the rotation is: whatever it takes,”coach Erik Spoelstra told Chiang. “That’s where we are. We made this bed where we are right now. Because of all the moving parts, everybody right now, it’s easy. You just be ready for your minutes, contribute in a positive way and help impact winning. That’s all it’s about right now. Everybody has signed up for that, everybody is bought into that.”

Spoelstra has used a franchise record 35 different starting lineups. This year, his most commonly used lineup (10 times) has consisted of Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jovic, Robinson, and Rozier. These are the starters that Spoelstra used on Sunday against Washington.

Adebayo, Butler, and Rozier are locked in as starters. It will be interesting to see what Spoelstra will do with the other two spots once Herro, who is guaranteed to be a starter, returns.

Spoelestra Has Options

Spoelstra could proceed in two ways. He could select to use a smaller lineup by keeping Robinson at small forward with the first unit and sliding Butler to the four.

Or Spoelstra could bring Robinson off the bench and use Martin, Jovic, or Haywood Highsmith at power forward. Martin will likely be the choice for Spoelstra, as he played 30 minutes a game during the playoffs a season ago. However, Robinson and the Heat have been better when he is in the starting unit this season.

Spoelstra’s starting unit could drastically affect his rotation. Adebayo, Butler, Rozier, and Herro will play 30 to 35 minutes each. Adebayo and Butler averaged 39 and 37 minutes, respectively, during the 2022-23 postseason.

Regardless of Spoelstra’s ultimate first unit, Robinson and Love will be part of the rotation. That would likely leave Patty Mills or Delon Wright as Spoelstra’s eighth man, with Highsmith limited to emergency minutes.

Therefore, Jovic and Jaquez Jr. will be out of the regular rotation for the playoffs.


More Posts

Send Us A Message