MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — It’s been a long time coming.
For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Miami Heat are home.
It’s a brief stopover.
A six-game trip ended with a blowout defeat at Oklahoma City on Sunday night, and a one-game homestand — the Heat host Milwaukee on Tuesday — is all the Heat get before embarking on another long trip. They’ll be in Miami less than 48 hours before heading out again, hardly enough time to solve all the injury and illness problems that are decimating the roster right now.
“We’re dealing with a lot,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, adding, “Welcome to the NBA in January.”
January for the Heat has been particularly daunting.
When the schedule came out, this looked to be a challenging time for Miami. The Heat played 23 of their first 35 games at home and are paying for that now, with a stretch where 11 out of 12 games will be on the road. And then there’s the health issues: The Heat were missing five players when the game at Oklahoma City started, lost another before that game ended and it is likely Miami won’t be at full strength again Tuesday.
“We’ve got guys out,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “It really sucks but you know the game goes on. We’re still going to compete. We’re going to show up and we’re going to try to win games. … We’re scrambling trying to put it together right now. So we just hope that guys can get healthy. It’s particularly tough at this part of the year with this road trip that we’re in now. We just have to stick with it and figure these things out.”
That, and re-pack.
Miami arrived home at 1:36 a.m. Monday from Oklahoma City, with no practice scheduled for the day but plenty of training room visits were most assuredly happening. The Heat play Tuesday, then are scheduled to fly to Washington later that night to start another five-game swing.
“Everybody’s going through something,” guard Dwyane Wade said Sunday after Miami’s fifth loss in its last seven games.
Miami has used five different starting lineups in its last five games, with some instance of a new malady popping up about every day on this just-completed trip.
Starting point guard Goran Dragic was sent home early because of a strained left calf. His replacement was Beno Udrih, who then was scratched Sunday with a sore neck. Josh McRoberts’ knee pain has sidelined him for six weeks, Chris Andersen returned to Miami early because of a bone bruise, Jarnell Stokes has been sick and Gerald Green left the Thunder game early because knee tendinitis was flaring up.
And some of the guys playing are not 100 percent: Wade couldn’t play Friday and returned to the lineup Sunday with tape on both shoulders, Tyler Johnson also has shoulder issues and Hassan Whiteside has been dealing with knee soreness.
“Thankfully nothing is really serious, but we do have some things that we have to treat and rest,” Spoelstra said.
Miami reached the midway point of its schedule at 23-18, despite eight home losses and seven games in which it lost after holding double-digit leads. But being on pace for 46 wins, means Miami is squarely in the mix to be a playoff team once again.
“The biggest thing for our team is try not to keep losing guys, try to get some guys back on the floor,” Wade said. “That’s the biggest thing when it comes down to it, if a team’s healthy and if a team’s not. I’m not necessarily worried right now.”
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