Are injuries becoming a crutch for Heat’s uneven season? – The Denver Post


Q: Ira, I am tired of hearing that the Heat have been so inconsistent this year because of injuries and that the team is finally starting to come together. We had just as many injuries or more last year and still won the Eastern Conference during the regular season. The problem this year is that all the teams in the East made trades in the offseason to get better and we did nothing to improve. – Greg, Jacksonville.

A: Look, injuries undeniably have been a factor. You cannot be your best without your best. But you raise a legitimate point when it comes to the base roster. The reality is that the Heat are 6-8 when starting their preferred lineup of Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry. While that unit has a positive net rating, of 8.7, it also has not produced the accompanying wins. What the injuries have done is taken a team with very little margin for error and now given it no margin for error. What we still haven’t seen is what this team is capable of at its best. And right now it does not look capable of challenging the Celtics, Nets or Bucks in the standings, or perhaps even the 76ers or Cavaliers.

Q: Chemistry and consistency are maybe one and the same on this team. Tyler Herro’s streaky scoring and the number of shots he takes combined with his defensive liability just make it feel like he is not a Heat player. Not sure what his value is to the league, but if he has value might he be the best sweetener in a deal at the deadline? – Jim, Cornelius, N.C.

A: First, because of his extension, Tyler Herro is essentially untradable this season. He would go out at the $25.1 million average of his current deal and future extension, with the Heat only able to take back his $5.7 million 2022-23 salary. But what the balance of this season could show is whether he is viewed as a keeper or a trade chip, and perhaps that was what the extension was about in the first place.

Q: Last season, you said Kyle Lowry deserved slack for the time he missed with family issues. But this season, it’s injuries. Shouldn’t they have seen that coming? – Jesse.

A: But also remember that Kyle Lowry was among the league’s leaders in minutes over the first third of the season, helping keep things afloat when others were sidelined. The only missed time this season has been due to the left knee. So the hope is that once this clears, there are no further issues. But, yes, at 36 there always will be greater injury concerns, something the Heat certainly were aware of when they offered that sizable three-year contract in the 2021 offseason.



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