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The Miami Heat were just one ball away from advancing to their sixth NBA Finals since 2011 last season, but Jimmy Butler’s missed three-point shot sent them home early from the playoffs. After coming so close to winning another title last year, many people thought this could be the season where The Heat takes the next step.
But it’s been a slow start for Miami, which has an annual record of 8-11 and sits 12th in the Eastern Conference standings. Much of their slow start can be attributed to their squad being plagued by injuries. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have all lost time this season through injury.
Amid their early struggles, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is imploring some of his injured players to come back and contribute. Even if they are below 100%
“Eventually we’ll hopefully get some guys back even if they’re not quite 100 per cent as long as they’re close enough. Maybe they can give us some backup, even if it’s only a few minutes. That’s where we are,” Spoelstra told the Miami Herald.
“Just give us what you have, whatever you have, just give us. If you’re used to playing 30 minutes, give us 15. If you’re used to playing 20 minutes, give us caution. So now we can sort of manage things.
Injuries are often seen by fans as just another excuse for why a team loses. And while it may be an excuse, it’s a valid one. This is especially true in the heat. They haven’t been able to find consistency in their lineups with so many guys coming in and out of their rotations.
But heat point guard Kyle Lowry isn’t ready to hit the panic button this season, knowing they’re just one of several teams also trying to figure things out.
“Milwaukee and Boston are really good and everyone else is still good but they’re trying to figure it out. But that’s our league in general. … That’s the great parity of our league and how it’s set up now,” Lowry told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“A lot of guys, a lot of teams are all kind of the same. And like I said, that’s it  Play in. When you get to 50 games you start saying, ‘OK, that’s what it is.’”
The Heat defeated the Washington Wizards in their last game. But before that, they went on a losing streak going 0-4 on their most recent road trip. While Spoelstra isn’t happy with the results of Miami’s road trip, he’s also learning to make lemonade with the lemons he was given this season. And after averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds during the four-game streak, Spoelstra said big man Nikola Jovic was positive for the team during his losing streak.
“There were some positive aspects and Niko was one of them. I found his minutes solid. They weren’t perfect, but you can’t expect them to be either. I’ve seen that he’s gotten a lot better since the training camp. It’s been pretty diligent work to get to this point,” Spoelstra said of Jovic via Sports Illustrated.
“He tends to make other guys better. Once you see who can pass, who’s a willing passer who can give you easy buckets, you don’t even have to practice because then you suddenly become great cutters because they’re motivated to get a result.
As injuries continue to pile up for the Heat, Jovic could play a bigger role sooner than later.
Erik Spoelstra makes a big plea for warmth amid early fights
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