Two days before blowing a big lead and losing to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Miami Heat enjoyed a blowout win on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-96. But it came at a cost, as Dru Smith suffered a knee injury.
The injury was believed to have occurred because the playing surface at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is several inches higher than the surface under the first row of seats. Reportedly, the Heat contacted the NBA league office regarding this setup.
“The Heat contacted the NBA league office to express their concerns over the Cleveland floor, a Miami spokesman said,” wrote Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Spoelstra suggested after the injury occurred Wednesday, and multiple NBA sources agreed, there is no other court in the NBA with that kind of drop.”
Miami was already depleted for that contest, as Bam Adebayo was out with a left hip bruise and Tyler Herro continues to rehab a sprained ankle. The Cavs are better than their record would indicate, but Miami was able to hold them down by forcing them to commit 19 turnovers, while veteran guard Kyle Lowry scored 28 points and rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 22 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
After losing to the Knicks on Friday, the team remained in the New York City metropolitan area and took on the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. With Jimmy Butler sitting out along with Adebayo and Herro, the Heat were no match for the Nets, who handled them 112-97.
With a 10-7 record, the Heat have now fallen to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They had won seven games in a row and nine of 10 going into Friday, and with their roster weakened due to injury, they will have to call on their trademark grit and “next man up” mentality to get through this stretch.
While their defense, as usual, has been strong, they rank just 20th in offensive rating and 24th in points per game. It is a seemingly perpetual problem that has often held them back over the last few years.
Miami will return home for a Tuesday contest against Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that is starting to find itself again, on Tuesday.