There’s good news and bad news for the Miami Heat.
The good news: Rookie guard Tyler Herro, who has missed the past 15 games with right ankle soreness, went through a full practice Tuesday for the first time since the injury. And forward Jae Crowder also went through practice Tuesday and has been cleared to play in Wednesday’s home game against the Charlotte Hornets after missing Sunday’s game while in the concussion protocol.
The bad news: Veteran wing Jimmy Butler, who missed the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Washington Wizards with a sore left toe, missed practice Tuesday. His availability for Wednesday’s matchup against the Hornets is in question, although coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler is “feeling better.”
For Wednesday’s game, the Heat listed Butler and Herro as questionable. Crowder is probable to return from his one-game absence.
Whether Herro plays or not Wednesday will depend on how his body responds to Tuesday’s practice and treatment leading up to the game.
“We will see how treatment goes tonight, see how he feels tomorrow,” Spoelstra said Tuesday. “But [athletic trainer Jay Sabol] and I are taking that as a good sign.”
A good sign that Herro’s teammates believe will help solidify the Heat’s bench rotation, which already includes Goran Dragic, Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk. Herro, 20, is averaging 13.1 points while shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 39.3 percent on threes, four rebounds and two assists in 46 games (six starts) this season.
“We missed his shooting, I will say that,” Bam Adebayo said of Herro. “We missed another shooter and he’s a big part in that role, and a big part of the second unit. I feel like when he went out, there was a little component missing. We made trades at that time and then Tyler gets hurt, so the second unit has to figure out some sort of communication in trying to mesh again. Getting him back in the second unit, I feel like it will mesh easier.”
Adding Herro to the Heat’s regular bench unit for games — along with Dragic, Crowder, Iguodala and Olynyk — will bring the rotation to 10 players. That will bring a drop in minutes for some.
“We understand everyone has to make some sacrifices this season,” Dragic said. “We know we have a deep team and we need every player on this roster. Tyler is big reason why the second unit has played so well. Just adding a great player in. Everyone feels comfortable with Tyler.”
FLASH SALE! Unlimited digital access for $3.99 per month
Don't miss this great deal. Offer ends on March 31st!SAVE NOW
When Heat center Meyers Leonard returns, the rotation could grow to 11 players or Spoelstra will face a decision on who to leave out to keep the rotation at 10. But Leonard, who has missed the past 15 games with a sprained left ankle, remains out indefinitely.
“This is a good thing,” Spoelstra said of the crowded rotation. “We’re going to need everybody at some point. That’s already basically been proven. Then you get into the playoffs and then it becomes exponential where you need everybody. It might not be everybody every single game, but there will be a little bit of an adjustment.”
Dealing with the coronavirus
As the Heat prepares for Wednesday’s game against the Hornets, t he coronavirus continues to be an unavoidable topic of conversation.
Players, coaches and staff are taking certain precautions like washing their hands more frequently, wiping down popular areas of contact and trying not to touch their face as much. On road trips, they’re wiping down door handles and objects in their hotel rooms.
Following Tuesday’s practice, Spoelstra and players were brought to the AmericanAirlines Arena media room with reporters kept at a distance to avoid possible spread of the virus. This comes a day after the NBA, the NHL, MLB and MLS came together to announce that locker room access “will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice.”
“This is a tough balance for all of us to manage right now,” Spoelstra said. “We are immersed in the present moment of our work. But we are extremely mindful like everybody else around the league, and our families, of a very serious matter right now. As an organization, we are observing and ready to pivot and make whatever necessary adjustment we have to. Right now, we’re just proceeding as normal and we’ll be ready to compete in front of all of our fans tomorrow night and we’ll go from there.”
Dragic’s home country Slovenia shares a border with Italy, which is dealing with a serious coronavirus outbreak. But Slovenia has just 31 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“The country next to it, Italy, it’s pretty dramatic,” Dragic said when asked about Slovenia. “They closed the borders and the country. Even our country, they closed the border, too, to Italy. So it’s a little bit bad over there.”
In Miami, Dragic and his teammates are doing their best to avoid germs while still understanding they still have a schedule to play.
“I notice guys are just being more cautious,” Crowder said. “Make sure you wash your hands on the regular. It’s actually funny because you wash your hands so much that it’s kind of hard to grip the ball because we wash our hands so much now. But it’s part of what we have to go through.”
▪ Kendrick Nunn (cold) and Udonis Haslem (intestinal issues) did not practice Tuesday. Both are questionable for Wednesday’s game.
▪ The Heat will clinch a spot in the playoffs if the New York Knicks defeat the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night. If the Wizards win, the Heat can clinch a playoff berth Wednesday night with a win over the Hornets.
This story was originally published March 10, 2020 2:35 PM.