Though the injury status of San Antonio Spurs All-Star Tony Parker has received more fanfare, the questionable health of Miami Heat reserve center Chris “Birdman” Andersen looms large over the NBA Finals, too. According to the team, Andersen was not a full participant in today’s practice.
Chris Andersen (who was held out of yesterday's practice) was limited to conditioning today. http://t.co/adVn8dlsw5
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 3, 2014
Andersen was forced to miss Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers after suffering a thigh contusion earlier in the series. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recently referred to Andersen – who played in Game 6 against the Pacers, it should be noted – as “the human bruise” to describe the increasingly fragile physical state of his 35 year-old center. Despite being limited at today’s practice, what’s most pertinent is that Andersen continues making progress in advance of Thursday’s Game 1. He was a total non-participant in yesterday’s session.
Despite modest per-game statistics, “Birdman’s” presence in the paint is of utmost importance to Miami. He is the Heat’s best shot-blocker, a great finisher around the basket, and boasts a unique combination of size and mobility that his teammates lack. Andersen played 14.2 minutes per game against the Spurs in last year’s Finals, averaging 4.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, and .6 blocks a night while shooting 72.7% from the field.
What do you think?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.