The Miami Heat continue to put up wins despite dealing with numerous injuries to key players this season, and Bam Adebayo said that mentality comes straight from head coach Erik Spoelstra.
“Nobody cares if we have guys out and we’re not making any excuses for it,” Spoelstra said recently. “Our injuries have been, in my mind, minor ones where guys haven’t been out for an extended period of time.”
The Heat in fact have used 17 different players and 15 different starters in their 35 games so far this season heading into a matchup against the Houston Rockets on Monday.
“Spo is never going to lower himself to blame guys being out on why he’s not winning,” Adebayo said. “That’s just not Spo. You got 15 guys on the roster for a reason and I feel like Spo tries to maximize all 15 guys.”
Despite stars Tyler Herro, Adebayo and Jimmy Butler and role players like Caleb Martin all missing significant time, Miami has been able to fashion a 20-15 record that has it in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
Herro missed 18 games with an ankle injury before returning to action on Dec. 18. The Heat won four of the first five games after his return but have since lost three of four with Butler now sidelined by a foot injury.
The trio of Herro, Adebayo and Butler have played only eight games together so far this season and have been able to finish only six of those as a group. There reportedly is cautious optimism that Butler can return sometime during the upcoming four-game home stand that runs through Jan. 14.
The Heat did manage to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers without Butler on Wednesday, and afterward, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham used his team’s injuries as an excuse for the loss. That reaction has been pointed to as an example of how Spoelstra is reacting differently to a similar situation than Ham, who reportedly may be on the hot seat with the struggling Lakers.
“We can’t find any consistency until we get healthy,” Ham said. “It’s as simple as that. We gotta get healthy. We gotta get healthy. Guys gotta — and once you get healthy — guys gotta get back in rhythm.”
Miami has been able to weather its injuries thanks in part to the play of rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who is the only Heat player to appear in every game so far this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 13.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. The No. 18 overall selection is considered one of the steals of the 2023 NBA Draft.
The New York Knicks recently improved with a trade for O.G. Anunoby, which may have been influenced by the Heat. If Miami isn’t able to make its own deal before the NBA trade deadline next month, the Heat will continue to rely on its mentality of no excuses and possible improved health to thrive in the playoff race.