After losing another close game, the Miami Heat find themselves 13th in the Eastern conference with a 6-12 record. What happened to the Eastern Conference champions? Injuries.
The Heat had a lot of absences due to COVID protocols and injures, and the standings reflect that. Butler is out due to COVID-19 protocol, Bradley, Dragić, and Igoudala are day-to-day, and Harkless, Leonard, and Silva are out long term. Last night Gabe Vincent played 26 minutes, and Max Strus played 21. Exactly.
While the fact we are in the play-in tournament era makes their position in the standings a little less grim, the Heat need to start turning things around soon. For that, the most concerning news about any sidelined player comes from Ethan J. Skolnick of Five Reasons Sports.
“He (Butler) lost more than a dozen pounds in roughly a week. Again, everybody can read into that how they like.”
Ethan J. Skolnick, “Five on the Floor” podcast
Butler was never confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, but the weight loss says volumes. While it was encouraging to see Butler back with his teammates on the bench last night, this can't be good news. Once a player is cleared, it doesn't mean he can just get back on the court.
Butler needs to get back into shape, and if he did have COVID-19 and lost 12 pounds in a week because of it, it will take time for Butler to get back into NBA shape. Meanwhile, the Heat desperately needs to get a few wins and keep the playoffs within reach.
This is still a great team, but the first 25% of the season shows how much '20/'21 will be volatile. A few COVID protocols and even a small injury at the wrong time can derail a season.