Erik Spoelstra admits Heat rotation in such injury flux, ‘I kept on forgetting who’s available’ – The Denver Post


It could well be considered the height of insanity, except for the reality that at times there is no height to consider.

No, this is not what coach Erik Spoelstra envisioned at midseason, a roster so compromised by injury, ailment and ache that even he no longer, in the heat of Miami Heat moment, is sure where to turn.

Take Tuesday night’s 112-111 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, when he found himself working with an eight-man rotation that 12 minutes into the game turned into a seven-player rotation.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot of moving parts,” he said. “I kept on forgetting who’s available and who’s not.”

With Bam Adebayo dealing with a wrist bruise, Tyler Herro an Achilles strain, Caleb Martin a quadriceps strain and Kyle Lowry a sore knee, the options were limited Tuesday night and well could continue for the impending two-game set against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday and Saturday.

Against the Thunder, it reached the point that once veteran Dewayne Dedmon was ejected at the start of the second period for launching a piece of training equipment to the court, 6-foot-7, 205-pound rookie Jamal Cain was required for minutes at center.

And so it has gone, the Heat second in the league, according to SpoTrac, in player games missed this season only to the Orlando Magic.

“The rotations have been so different game to game,” Spoelstra said.

With Spoelstra cobbling together a Tuesday first five of Orlando Robinson, Haywood Highsmith, Jimmy Butler, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, it gave the Heat their 18th starting lineup in their 42 games, behind only the Thunder (19) and Los Angeles Lakers (21).

In addition, Robinson became the Heat’s 13th starter this season, with only the Phoenix Suns and Lakers (14 each) having utilized more.

“I can only feel for Spo,” Butler said, “because he really doesn’t know who’s going to be where whenever we’re going through walkthrough, going through shootarounds, with so many guys that are banged up. He’s working with the guys that he has and he’s doing the best that he can. You’re playing Cain at the five. You know what I’m saying? So he’s a great coach for a reason.

“From here on out, I hope that gets a little bit easier whenever we start to get guys back and we start to string together some wins.”

With Duncan Robinson (finger), Nikola Jovic (back) and Omer Yurtseven (ankle) still with weeks to go before returning, it will mean the mixing and matching will have to continue, with the focus at the moment getting the starters back.

Butler admitted that in his 12 seasons he has never seen anything like this.

“Nope,” he said. “But I think that’s part of the NBA. I think that’s what I signed up for, to be able to play at a high level no matter who we have alongside each other. I don’t have the hard job. Spo does. He’s got to try to like mix and match guys, make guys feel comfortable, while trying to tell them where to be on the floor and how to run what play, when to run what play.

“It’s a lot going on, and you’ve got to tip your hat to that, because a lot of guys get nervous underneath those lights, going from the G League.”

On Tuesday night that meant playing one player under a two-way contract at the starting center, in Robinson, and the team’s other two-way player as an undersized backup center, in Cain. Both had been ticketed for extensive G League minutes this season.

“Whatever guys were out there, they played their role to a T,” Butler said. “You tell them to do something, they do it to the best of their abilities. I’m happy for them. I’m proud of them. Next-man-up mentality.”



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