The Miami Heat have announced some key injury updates before tomorrow's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers as they return home after the win to the Toronto Raptors Wednesday. They were without three starters last night in Bam Adebayo, Hawyood Highsmith, and Tyler Herro, as it will be the same Friday.
Arguably the Heat's best-performing player on the team, Adebayo will miss his third straight game with a left hip contusion according to the team's X (formerly known as Twitter) account. The problem for the big-man lingers as he has missed games prior to the three-game stretch with the nagging issue. He spoke with Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald and said he does not know when he'll make his return.
#CLEvsMIA INJURY UPDATE: Bam Adebayo (hip) & Haywood Highsmith (back) have both been ruled out of tomorrow night's game vs the Cavs.
RJ Hampton (knee) has come off the injury list.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 7, 2023
“I have no idea,” Adebayo said. “This is new to me.. to be on the sideline. I get re-evaluated when the team gets back from Toronto. We’ll have a conversation then.”
In the meantime, Adebayo said he's been doing light work in terms of shooting the ball, but no drills in actual practices. The University of Kentucky product didn't travel with Miami in the trip to Toronto and is considered “day-to-day” for each game.
“I haven’t started doing much basketball stuff, no contact,” Adebayo said. “Everything else I’ve been doing, shooting and stuff like that, has been fine. The best thing for it is rest. That’s what I’ve been trying to do these past couple of days. Very boring. But this is the process.”
Erik Spoelstra confident in depth in Adebayo's absence for Heat
He banged his hip in the win to the Indiana Pacers in the first half on Nov. 30 where he wouldn't end up returning to the game. After the contest, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said to the media that it isn't “serious.”
“It’s not, thankfully, something serious,” Spoelstra said. “It’s just you play competitive NBA basketball, you get hit, you’re jumping and you’re twisting, all that stuff. He heals fast, so we’ll continue to treat him and see where we are.”
There's no doubt that the loss of Adebayo is a huge hit to the offensive and especially the defensive side of the ball. However, Spoelstra said to ClutchPoints before the second game to the Pacers that he's confident with the depth of the front-court.
“It's not our first time, so we feel comfortable about our front-court depth. It'll look a little bit different which is what we like about our depth. Each guy brings something a little bit different, and they've all proven that they've been able to impact games already to help us win,” Spoelstra said to ClutchPoints. “The game that you know, bam, missed in Cleveland, we got some great front-court play you know, from our bigs and it may be a little bit different tonight. These guys played super small and in some of their lineups. So we just have to figure it out and just make an impact for whatever minutes they have in that spot.”
— Zachary Weinberger (@ZachWeinberger) December 2, 2023
Fill-ins for Adebayo and other injury updates
Spoelstra specified that they don't want to rush Adebayo in his recovery. Adebayo is one of the key foundations for the Heat since he was drafted with the 14th overall pick in 2017.
“But he will continue to be day to day, we just want to take care of him before it does take a turn for something else,” Spoelstra said. “He seems to continue to get hit in that exact same spot which is almost impossible to do but what will take care of him he'll feel better soon.”
Players like Kevin Love, Orlando Robinson, and Thomas Bryant will have to step up for Adebayo in the process. Adebayo was in the midst of a career-best season as before the Indiana game where he got injured, he was averaging just over 23 points and 10 rebounds. In the first game of the stretch without Adebayo against the Pacers, Robinson filled in nicely as he scored 16 points, collected five rebounds, and reeled in three assists.
It isn't just the big-men that have to step up as Haywood Highsmith is also out with a lower back contusion. The 26-year old has also missed games with the same injury and is a defensive presence while also improving offensively. He got extensive minutes in the Heat's miraculous run last season in the playoffs.
Miami is currently 12-9 which puts them at seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The team is looking to defend home-court tomorrow against the Cavaliers as it'll be their second meeting as their last was on Nov. 22 where the Heat won, 129-96.