When it comes to the Miami Heat’s daily practice reports, context remains essential.
So, yes, Victor Oladipo was among those who practiced with the team Tuesday at Emerson College. But, no, there was not any contact during that session, coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday.
So judging where Oladipo stands remains unclear with the left-knee tendinosis that has had the veteran guard out since the preseason.
“He’s making progress,” Spoelstra said ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. “I do not have a timeline.
“But he’s on this trip for a reason, to continue to get good work, but also to get the connection piece, the fellowship piece with our guys. It’s really important. That’s as important for him, being out, just being around the group.”
The only two members of the roster not traveling are center Omer Yurtseven, who is recovering from ankle surgery, and forward Jimmy Butler, who is expected to rejoin the team in time for Friday’s rematch against the Celtics at TD Garden, with Butler out since Nov. 18 with a sore right knee.
Oladipo did not make his debut last season until March 7, following 2021 offseason surgery on the opposite knee. He routinely has been shooting pregame before watching from the Heat bench in street clothes.
Spoelstra said Oladipo would not play on this trip, which after the two games in Boston concludes with a Monday game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Even with the teams having already met this season, with the Celtics winning 111-104 on Oct. 21 in Miami, the memories for the Heat continue to track back to their Game 7 home loss to Boston in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.
“I don’t think it goes away anywhere,” center Bam Adebayo said of the sting of that loss, the Heat coming up short when a late Jimmy Butler 3-point attempt bounded off the rim.
Spoelstra said he did not need to raise that playoff loss to Boston as a motivational tool.
“Look, I think we all feel a certain way about it,” he said of the Heat coming up one win short of their second trip to the NBA Finals in three seasons. “I don’t need to bring it up. I don’t. That pain is there.
“The focus now is more about the opportunity ahead, the opportunity for this year against this team.”
But, yes, Game 7 still resonates.
“That stings,” forward Caleb Martin said. “That was our way to get to the Finals and obviously that’s going to stick with you every time you play them. And you know they’re going to be a team to go through when it comes time to get there again.”
The Celtics went into Wednesday an NBA-best 17-4, coming off Monday’s 140-105 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets. All of that after coach Ime Udoka was placed on season-long leave for violating team rules, with assistant coach Joe Mazulla taking over.
“I think, one, they have institutional knowledge of how they want to play,” Spoelstra said. “Even though Joe has taken over, a lot of the principles are similar.
“The trust factor, secondly, has really gone up. They’ve really improved their passing, getting off the ball, utilizing all their weapons and that’s translated to just an extremely explosive offense that’s shooting a ton of threes but they’re also getting their attacks at the rim.”
Footing the bill
Rookie big man Nikola Jovic said his current bout with plantar fasciitis is a first.
“It’s not even like a big problem,” he said of the discomfort in his right right foot. “It just happened out of nowhere.”
Or could it just be growing pains for the 19-year-old?
“I don’t know,” Jovic said with a smile when asked if he was still growing. “People say I am. I’m not sure. I’m going to check it throughout the season to see where I’m at.”