This has to be frustrating for the Miami Heat. The team’s underwhelming play this season is hardly due to substandard performance from Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, but related to a rash of injuries to ancillary players first and foremost. The Heat’s stars haven’t only played up to optimistic preseason levels, but also remained relatively healthy – until now. After Wade suffered a hamstring strain in Miami’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, there’s no timetable for his return to the floor and a report says he could miss “an extended period.”
Wade spoke to the media on Thursday for the first since suffering the injury. Irrespective of the team’s uncertain timeline for his recovery, these notes from reporters are certainly discouraging:
The Heat are 20-25 and currently seventh-place in the Eastern Conference. The Charlotte Hornets trail them by a game and-half in the standings, while the ninth-place Brooklyn Nets sit a full two games back.
That cushion hardly seems big enough for Miami to hold off both squads with certainty as its playmaker recovers. And considering the above and this tidbit from Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, it seems likely Wade will miss a significant amount of games:
Based on initial examinations, the Miami Heat are expecting to be without guard Dwyane Wade for an extended period after he was sidelined in the second half of Tuesday’s 109-102 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks with a strained right hamstring.
The Heat face a bear of a schedule before the February 12 All-Star break, with five of their seven games coming on the road. Worse, three of those contests come against teams with legitimate title aspirations: versus the Dallas Mavericks on Friday; at the San Antonio Spurs on February 6; and in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on February 11.
With the possibility of Wade being sidelined for that duration and Luol Deng also battling injuries, there exists a chance that the Heat could fall out of the East’s top-eight over the next two weeks.
Fortunate for Miami is that Charlotte, Brooklyn, and the Detroit Pistons are in differing states of flux. The Hornets will be without Kemba Walker until March at the earliest, and the Pistons lost Brandon Jennings for the season last week. The Nets, meanwhile, continue seeking trade partners for its three relative stars: Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson.
Even if Miami loses pace before the All-Star break, basically, its long-term playoff aspirations seem relatively safe. But the Heat need to be whole for a sizable stretch before then to realize their perhaps considerable potential and give a top-three seed a run for its money in the first round.
A lineup of Mario Chalmers, Wade, Deng, Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside is daunting on paper. And while Erik Spoelstra’s bench leaves much to be desired, his team’s decided lack of depth matters less once rotations are shortened in April.
But that’s thinking too far ahead. Miami needs to weather the storm while Wade is out to ensure it won’t face a steep uphill climb to the playoffs over the season’s final 30 games. After all, if the Heat’s season-long injury luck persists throughout early spring, they could prove ill-equipped to make that trek.
What do you think?
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