The Miami Heat took flight Tuesday for the start of their three-game western swing in an all-too-familiar pattern with Victor Oladipo, with the veteran guard still grounded.
Yet to play this season, Oladipo is dealing with knee tendinosis and remained behind in South Florida, meaning he will miss at least the first seven games this season.
On a more encouraging note, center Omer Yurtseven, who has yet to play this season due to an ankle impingement, took flight with the team for the trip that features three games over four days.
Yurtseven tweaked the ankle during the Heat’s Oct. 4 preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves at FTX Arena and has not played since, after going 27 minutes in that game.
Oladipo was held out of the Heat’s first three exhibitions for what was listed as “return to competition conditioning,” before appearing in the final two, most recently going 18 minutes in the Oct.12 exhibition victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Oladipo missed most of last season due to surgical complications with his opposite knee.
Back with the team are forwards Caleb Martin and Nikola Jovic, with the two suspended from Monday night’s loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors due to their involvement in a Saturday fracas against Toronto that spilled into the FTX Arena stands.
No, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, the intent was not to limit Jimmy Butler to just the final 3:38 of the fourth quarter of Monday night’s loss.
But without an intervening stoppage, Butler was caught watching and waiting from the scorers’ table before he could get back into the action.
Butler had reported to the scorers’ table with 6:20 to play in the fourth, but wound up with an unexpected run of 8:29 out of action.
“I didn’t have a timeout,” said Spoelstra, who actually had two but prefers to save those for the waning moments. “That frustrated the heck out of me. I almost considered taking a foul, not the take-foul [an intentional stoppage that gives the opposition a free throw], but in the half court. And in retrospect, I probably should have. That was too much to have him sitting on that sideline, particularly as that every possession really mattered.
“I thought we were getting decent execution and decent looks. But we also wanted Jimmy Butler in the game and we sent him to the table with enough time typically. But the way things had gone earlier, I didn’t have any timeouts.”
The Heat utilized their final two timeouts in the final 50.4, after the Raptors had moved to a five-point lead from what had been an eight-point Heat advantage.
After a 1-3 homestand to open the season, the hope is that the road is now a road to redemption, with the western swing that opens Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, continues Thursday night against the Golden State Warriors and concludes Saturday against the Sacramento Kings.
“I always feel like these trips can be an opportunity,” Spoelstra said, “but particularly right now, when we’re faced with a little bit of adversity. These are opportunities to come together and develop some collective resolve.
“There’s not going to be anybody else but us out there. This is an opportunity for us to really start to connect, face some adversity on the road and hopefully grow from that and get some wins.”
Point guard Kyle Lowry said it will have to be a step-by-step process.
“I think we’ve just got to go out there and play, at the end of the day,” he said. “The road is the road, a hostile environment and we’ve just got to go out there and hoop and find a way to try to win games and take it one by one and possession by possession, can’t look at the whole trip. Look at is as the next game is Portland and concentrate on Portland.”