For all their success this year, the Miami Heat have yet to accomplish one important goal . . . fielding a healthy roster. The Heat came into the season missing their newly signed superstar, Jimmy Butler, due to the birth of his first child. And there were the self-inflicted setbacks, most notably from high-paid reserves Dion Waiters and James Johnson.
But most concerning has been the rash of injuries that has plagued the Heat’s back court rotation of Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic. The injuries to both of Miami’s point guards has led to an increased burden on Butler and a “playoff-style” rotation of 8 or 9 players that has seemingly shown in weary legs at the end of road games and back to back scenarios. Even with Dragic’s recent return and stellar play, the shortened rotation has still been in place thanks to the uneven play of forwards Kelly Olynyk and Chris Silva.
Reinforcements, however, look to be on the way with a breakout game from Johnson Sunday night against the Blazers. Johnson’s size, playmaking ability and defense were on display for the first time in months as he finally received the nod from Coach Erik Spoelstra with Butler taking the night off. “We stay ready around here,” replied Johnson when asked how he was able to shake off the rust of weeks on the bench to impact the game in such a fashion.
And it would seem that the return of Winslow may be on the horizon as he was upgraded to questionable on Sunday night, even though he didn’t play. Monday Winslow was seen swimming with dolphins and teammate Bam Adebayo and Tuesday Spoelstra told media that he practiced with the team and was travelling to Indiana for Wednesday’s game against the Pacers, a positive sign.
Justise Winslow practiced and will travel to Indiana.
Spoelstra: “We will see how he feels.”
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) January 7, 2020
Butler practiced with the team as well, which is a good signal that he will be available as well on Wednesday night. So a fully healthy Heat squad is finally a real possibility in the coming days which should be a welcome sign to Spoelstra and his staff, as well as present new rotation challenges. But after weeks of riding an 8-man rotation, those are great challenges to have.