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James Johnson leaves Heat’s first post-All-Star game with shoulder injury

James Johnson, Heat

The Heat are right in the middle of a crowded playoff race in the Eastern Conference. But their push may have hit a bump in the road on Thursday night.

During Thursday night’s game in Philadelphia against the Sixers, Miami power forward James Johnson was forced to leave the game early with a shoulder injury. Via the team’s Twitter account:

Johnson, 32, has been in the league for 10 seasons. The veteran signed a three-year deal with the Heat prior to the 2017-18 season. The deal includes a player option for the 2020-21 season.

This season, Johnson has averaged 7.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 42.9%. It has been his worst season with Miami so far.

Johnson has missed time with injury before in his career. In his 10-season career, he has only played in more than 70 games twice. Earlier this season, he missed time due to illness and a hernia.

While X-rays returned negative, it is still unknown how much time Johnson might miss. Miami will likely fill in with some combination of veteran Kelly Olynyk and 22-year-old Derrick Jones Jr. during Johnson’s absence.

Every win counts for Miami. At 26-30, they are tied for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Detroit Pistons.

The Orlando Magic are only a half-game back, and the Charlotte Hornets are only a half game ahead. ESPN’s BPI Playoff Odds gave the Heat a 53.5% chance of making the postseason entering Thursday.

At halftime, Miami trailed the fourth-seed Sixers by a score of 57-50.

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