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5 NBA Injury Situations Updated as League Resumes

After nearly a three month hiatus from the NBA, players and organizations are finally facing the reality of getting to play basketball again. Some teams will be getting back players and the outlook of their team will be impacted. Each team faces a unique NBA injury situation.

Barring a late snag, such as some or all players refusing to participate, the NBA season is finally set to return on July 31st. The NBA Board of Governors came to a consensus that will allow 22 teams to participate in an 8 game regular season for playoff seeding purposes. Beyond the current 16 playoff teams, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Antonio from the West and Washington from the East are the six additional teams joining in Orlando. After the eight regular season games are played, if the 9th seed is more than four games behind the 8th seed, the 8th seed will make the playoffs. Otherwise, if the difference is fewer than four games, there will be a play-in tournament.

Let’s look at five teams that should expect the return of players who were injured at the time the season was stopped, and how their NBA injury situation may affect their team’s chances.

NBA Injury Situations

Miami Heat

  • Meyers Leonard, Tyler Herro

Meyers Leonard was the starting center for the Miami Heat until he suffered a severe ankle sprain on February 3rd. Until that point, Leonard started all 49 games and was a great big man complement next to breakout all-star Bam Adebayo. The Heat struggled heavily at times without Leonard; they didn’t have a reliable backup center and they were often playing small ball with Bam at the 5 and Derrick Jones Jr or Kelly Olynk at the 4.

The acquisition of Jae Crowder and Andre Iguadola made up for some defensive defficiencies the Heat were experiencing but it became evident the Heat are most successful with Leonard on the court; spreading the offense with his 3 point making ability, rebounding, and guarding dominant centers like Joel Embiid to keep Adebayo out of early foul trouble. Rookie Tyler Herro also suffered an ankle sprain and missed 15 games before returning to action the same night the NBA postponed the season. Tyler only logged 7 minutes in that game.

However, with Herro expected to return in July fully healthy, the Heat will have a big boost with its bench scoring and playmaking back. Herro will provide an offensive spark for the second unit that sometimes was nonexistent when he was hurt. Goran Dragic won’t have as much of a ball-handling burden and Herro will help reduce Dragic’s minutes. Although Herro is a rookie and lacks playoff experience, his ambition and confidence shouldl guide him through the tedious postseason. If his defense doesn’t improve though Spoelestra may have no other option but to reduce his minutes, especially in crunch time.

Portland Trailblazers

  • Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins

After fracturing his tibia nearly 14 months ago, Jusuf Nurkic is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Nurkic had planned to return March 15th, just a couple days after the NBA decided to indefinitely postpone the season due to the Covid-19. He will share front-court minutes not only with Hassan Whiteside, but also Zach Collins, who will also be returning from a shoulder injury.

Nurkic was averaging 15.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, and 3.2 apg before his gruesome leg injury in 2019. Collins was averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds per game on 43% from the three. Portland has had a disappointing season thus far being 8 games under .500. All star Damian Lillard can look for more pick and roll opportunities with his two big men back. All in all, Nurkic and Collins are frontcourt assets Portland will need, especially if they play the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Kyrie Irving 

Kyrie Irving missed 26 games this season due to a right shoulder injury.  He initially returned from his absence, but experienced lingering shoulder pain. Irving finally agreed on February 20th to undergo surgery, causing the Nets to shut him down for the rest of the season. Since there was no timetable for Irving’s return, many speculated a possible comeback, but realistically doctors say the earliest Irving can return is September 3rd, and Irving has already ruled himself out, as has star teammate Kevin Durant. (Irving, VP of the NBA Players Association, has also been at the forefront of raising concerns about the NBA’s return plan).

So the Nets will Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris Levert take the reins of the team and continue to develop into very nice complementary pieces next to Durant and Irving. Playoff experience will definitely catalyze their growth. Due to the injury history of the Brooklyn’s two superstars, adds value to these two. Dinwiddie and Levert’s playmaking and scoring abilities are crucial in Brooklyn securing one of the 8 seeds in the East.

Indiana Pacers

  • Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo already made his return to the NBA from a horrid leg injury prior to COVID. Oladipo was out for 11 months. Obviously, people expected some rust and time to adapt to the pace of the game. He only played 14 games but the struggles were evident; Oladipo scored 23.4 PPG on 48% from the field before his injury. He posted 13.8 PPG on 39% from the field when he returned.

Oladipo lacked the consistency that got him to be an all star. An extra 4 months to strengthen and heal could be vital to Indiana’s playoff push. If Oladipo is healthy and playing like himself, you can expect a high scoring, efficient guard to significantly improve Indiana’s outlook in the Eastern conference. And you can expect other teams that covet him — like the Heat — to be watching.

Phoenix Suns

  • Kelly Oubre

Phoenix Suns wing Kelly Oubre underwent right knee surgery for a torn meniscus in early March. His status to return was unclear but now Oubre’s return is likely and very much needed. He experienced a breakout season. Oubre’s averaging 18.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 45% from the field, and 35% from the three (all career highs).

Oubre will be part of a young improving core along with All Star Devin Booker and 2018 first overall pick DeAndre Ayton that will try and make noise this year and will gain valuable playoff experience for the future.

Miami Heat Need the Three Against Knicks on Sunday

The Miami Heat need to shoot better from deep on Sunday.

The Miami Heat are set to take on the New York Knicks in what is going to be a bounce back game for Miami. One thing is for certain: If the Miami Heat want to beat the Knicks on Sunday, they need to be more efficient from three-point range.

In Friday’s loss against the Brooklyn Nets, Miami struggled from deep. They went seven-of-29 from beyond the arc. By comparison, the Nets went 15-of-44 from deep. That equaled out to a 34.1 three-point percentage.

The starting lineup was not efficient shooting the three ball. Duncan Robinson was the most productive for Miami. He went two-of-six from beyond the arc, finishing with eight points on the evening.

Interestingly enough, the bench did a bit better with their opportunities. James Johnson went two-of-two from beyond the arc and finished with six points in 12 minutes of play. Goran Dragic had a rough evening, going two-of-seven from deep.

The numbers bode well for Miami Heat

The three-point shot is undoubtedly the bread and butter of Miami’s offense. They are second in the league in three-point conversion percentage. Shooting at a 37.6 % rate, that puts them only second to Utah.  Over their last three games, they have been pretty consistent with the shot, shooting at a 36.9% clip.

New York is last in the entire NBA in opponent three-point field goal percentage. Their opponents have been converting at a 38.8% rate.  Things haven’t been much better for them over the past three games. They have been susceptible from long range, allowing opponents to convert on 43.6% of their tries. This is great news for Miami, and should allow for plenty of good looks for the shooters.

If Miami wants to beat New York on Sunday, getting more production from the starting lineup is crucial for a victory. This team plays much better when everyone contributes.  Miami needs to make sure they convert from beyond the arc, and put behind the poor performance in Brooklyn. If they can do that, a win is certainly in their future.

Not an Easy Road: Tough Times for Heat Away from Home

The Miami Heat are 27-11 overall, but just 10-10 away from home after Friday night’s loss at Brooklyn.

In the Magic City, the Miami Heat have been just that with a 17-1 record.

Their only loss at the American Airlines Arena this season came December 13th to the Lakers.

However, away from Biscayne the Heat are treading water with a .500 record.

For the Heat, like any team, a breakeven line away from home should be a respectable standard.

Yet when looking at the road losses through the lens of individual performance, some trends emerge.

 

Brooklyn had lost seven games in a row before Miami came to town.

The Heat had the lowest point total in an NBA quarter in over two years (6) at Orlando just over a week ago.

Miami was beaten by 18 against a Washington team without Bradley Beal to close out 2019.

Their average margin of defeat in their 10 road losses is over 15 points per game.

Brooklyn only defeated Miami by four points, the Heat’s closest road loss of the season.

Yet something was missing in a game where the Heat scored 69 points in the first half.

 

The Heat have lost three road games by at least 20 points, including the 113-86 dismantling at Philadelphia in late November.

Cold shooting away from home has not helped, the Heat shoot about 3-percent better from all areas at home.

This is itself is not a cause for concern, teams often struggle on offense away from home.

Thankfully defense typically travels for the Heat, which has kept them in games.

The offensive rebounding must improve to give the offense second-chance opportunities.

Miami ranks 28th in the NBA on the offensive glass and have been even worse in January.

Not coincidentally the Heat rank 27th in second chance points league-wide.

Brooklyn crushed Miami on the boards overall (56-43) and in offensive rebounds 14-4.

 

Between offensive rebounding and turnovers, the Heat are losing too many possessions.

Miami is allowing 18.9 points per game off of turnovers, also 27th in the NBA.

Their next opponent is the New York Knicks, who are just 10-29 overall and 5-13 at Madison Square Garden.

Like Brooklyn, New York is mired in a losing streak of their own with five straight.

New York has some ways to counter the Heat and should not be overlooked.

The Knicks lead the NBA in offensive rebounding at over 12 per game and are a top-10 rebounding unit overall.

Those offensive rebounds have led to the Knicks actually being third in the NBA in second chance points.

Miami has to be better on the glass and take care of the ball, or they can fall into another trap game.

Getting back to the fundamentals on the road could be an easy recipe for improvement.

New York provides the perfect opportunity in what is now a more intriguing matchup than anticipated.

Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow missing both games in New York

Justise Winslow will not play for the Miami Heat in New York, either against the Nets on Friday night or the Knicks on Sunday afternoon, after a setback with his back injury.

Health has been a problem for Winslow this season. He has only played in 11 games to this point. His last contest came on Wednesday against Indiana. In that game, he saw the four for 15:33. He missed both shots he attempted but did manage to record two rebounds, an assist, and a block.

For his Miami Heat career, Justice Winslow has played for five seasons in 241 games. He has recorded nine points per game in addition to 5.4 rebounds per game. His best season came last year. He played in 66 games, starting 52 of them. He recorded 12.6 points per contest as well as 5.4 rebounds per game. He saw an increase in minutes in comparison to the 2017-18 season. Playing 29.7 minutes per contest, that was an increase from 2017-18. He played in 24.7 minutes per game that year.

So far this season, Winslow is playing 23 minutes per contest. His best game to this point in the season came against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 23. He scored 27 points, going 10-of-21 from the field. In addition, he recorded seven rebounds and seven assists. It was certainly a nice way to start the season for Winslow.

When healthy, he is undoubtedly an asset for Miami. However, it seems like he has been injured more often than on the floor. One has to wonder if the Heat will deal him prior to the trade deadline in an effort to get more production from another asset. As for right now, their main goal should be to see that he gets healthy.

Handicapping the Miami Heat’s 3-Game Trip

The Miami Heat are playing great basketball. It feels almost like a return to the days of old,  back when the Big 3 were in town, even if they don’t have the front line starpower.

 

Now, the Heat are healthier than they have been — with Jimmy Butler and possibly Justise Winslow returning — and are firmly entrenched in the top three, we a two-game lead on the No. 4 Toronto Raptors and a full three games on the Philadelphia 76ers, who had fallen into a terrible slump prior to beating Oklahoma City.

 

After a five-win stretch, which included sweeping their 4-game home stretch against the Knicks, Jazz, Indiana, and Sixers, the Heat have gone lose-win-lose-win over their last four. They have the Indiana Pacers coming up again on Wednesday in Indiana, and then a trip to New York brings aways games against the Nets on Friday and the Knicks on Sunday.

 

It’s funny because the Heat has beaten Utah, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Toronto since December 23rd, and still the power rating algorithms are a bunch of haters. Miami is No. 3 in the NBA standings and beat these teams, but still, the predictive power ratings have them rated back at No.11. Toronto is rated at No. 7, Philly is rated at No. 9, and Utah is rated at No. 10. Ok. So what gives?

 

I guess the Heat will just have to go and beat these teams – and other top teams – again and we’ll see if they get any love in the power rankings.

 

Heat vs. Pacers | Wednesday 7 PM ET @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

 

The Indiana Pacers just lost to the Heat in Miami, but now the boys have to go and prove themselves up in Indiana. Both teams are good on defense. The Heat allows just 107.28 and the Pacers let 106.16 points by per game. On offense, Miami puts up 111.11 against Indiana’s 109.46. So, on any given night, these two teams are very evenly matched.

But the Heat’s road offense is scoring around five points fewer per game than their overall average. Out on the highway, they score 106.17, which is the No. 21 road offense. The Pacers put up 111.21 per game at home which is the No. 18 home offense. Home vs. Away defense shows the Pacers improving to 104.7 points per game allowed, and the Heat falling to 110.11.

 

So, we could see the Pacers coming in as significant home favorites on the NBA odds offered at sportsbookreview.com. If the point differential is any indicator, we could technically see a spread of around 10 points. However, I would expect the handicappers to go with straight-up averages and cap this game out to be around 105 for the Heat and 111 for the Pacers.

 

If this is the case, and the point spread is set with the Heat +6, hop on it because they very well could win this one outright.

 

Heat vs. Nets | Friday 7:30 PM @ Barclay’s Center

 

Since we have already gone over Miami’s road stats, we’ll just stick with Brooklyn here. The Nets put up 109.63 per game at home, which falls right in line with Miami’s defensive numbers. So, that is the score we should expect from the Nets; roughly 107 to 109. However, they are not as good on the defensive front as the Pacers and allow 109 and change to go up on the visiting team’s scoreboard in Brooklyn. This one should come down to a pretty close game, but the personnel matchup favors Miami. Remember, we beat the Nets in Brooklyn last time around, 109-106. I predict a similar outcome in for this meeting.

 

 

Heat vs. Knicks | Sunday, 3:30 PM @ Madison Square Garden

 

The Heat have beaten the Knicks in seven of the last 10 meetings in the three most recent, the Heat have smoked the Knicks 3-0 by an average score of 111.67 to 101. The last time these two played was on December 20th when Miami smashed New York 129 to 114.

 

The Heat might not get the road sweep. But they very well might. I think they at least go two of three for the remainder of the week. They’ll keep their win ratio rolling and stay at the top of the Eastern Conference.

 

Goran Dragic provides spark in nailbiting victory

Sunday’s action on the hardwood was exciting to the very end. The Miami Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets by a 109-106 score. It seemed like every starter contributed, and that was great to see. This season in particular, Miami has been all about balance in terms of scoring and that was evident on Sunday. And they once again got a major impact off the bench from Goran Dragic.

Dragic provides spark for Miami Heat

Dragic contributed 24 points, six assists, and two rebounds in 31 minutes of play. His 24 points were the most since he scored 25 on November 7 against the Phoenix Suns. This was another case of a player stepping up and helping Miami get the job done. He went three-of-six from behind the three-point line. He also chipped in three free throws.

Sunday night he was definitely looking for his shot, going nine-of-18 from the field. His 18 shot attempts were his most to this point in the season. If the Miami Heat can get him going on a consistent basis, that’s just another weapon they have in their arsenal.  Miami’s versatility this season has allowed Dragic to seamlessly transition from starter to sixth man. That’s the benefit of having depth on the roster. The rookies are playing so well that Miami can mix and match their lineups. For Miami, it’s a nice luxury to have.

With games against the Toronto raptors and Boston Celtics coming up, the Miami Heat need to be firing on all cylinders.  Dragic has been a valuable piece to their success so far. Playing well and with efficiency will be key for both the Heat and Dragic and it will be interesting to see how they do over these next couple of games. These will be two very difficult road tests and will pit Miami against two of the best in the Eastern Conference.