After a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers to start the 2020 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat’s woes have continued after veteran guard Goran Dragic and in-form big man Bam Adebayo picked up series-altering injuries.
Dragic, who has been the Heat’s second-leading scorer in the playoffs suffered a plantar tear in his left foot during the second quarter which meant he did not return to the game after half-time and whether he will return at any point in the series remains unclear.
"I know he's as tough as anybody, and it's the Finals," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said of the 34-year-old after the game. "But I don't have an update on his foot right now."
Nunn’s got next
Depending on how long Dragic is absent for, rookie Kendrick Nunn is next in line for the Heat to come into the starting five as a replacement, despite averaging just 7.3 minutes per game in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"I'm always ready to play," Nunn said. "When your number is called, you've got to be ready to play. I haven't played in a couple of games but that doesn't mean anything. Once I step on the floor, I'm back at it like I've been playing. I've always had that mentality and I always stay ready."
Despite missing the last three games of the ECF, the young guard did return in the 116-98 defeat against the Lakers, scoring 18 points on 7-11 shooting in 20 minutes.
What about Adebayo?
Towards the end of the third quarter, the centre exited the game clutching his shoulder. He was briefly examined on the side-line before heading back to the locker room, and X-rays after the game came back negative, according to the Heat.
This could have potentially been an aggravation of another upper-body injury the 23-year-old Adebayo sustained this postseason. He hurt his shoulder after getting tangled up with Boston Celtics guard Jayson Tatum at the end of Game 4 in Miami’s previous series.
Despite this, he carried on playing and led the Heat to a closeout Game 6 victory, racking up a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds, which indicates that the forward may try to battle through the pain barrier once again and carry on playing in the finals.
With this in mind, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported late Wednesday that Adebayo intends to play in Friday's Game 2.
Butler to continue despite ankle tweak
The Heat all-star twisted his left ankle just before half-time and appeared to be struggling to walk when he returned to the floor for the third quarter.
Butler finished with a team-high 23 points as well as providing five assists and grabbing two rebounds on a night where injuries plagued his team.
"It's a little bit sore, I'll be okay, some treatment and get ready to go again," Butler said post-game.
"I think I've got to be ready to go so I'll see how it feels tomorrow but I'm going to be fine. Just take what the game gives me for the most part, I still have a lot of belief in all of my teammates. I will continually play that way.
"Maybe try to score a little bit more but I've still got to make sure that everybody else is getting their touches and getting the shots they need because we've been playing this way all year long and that's our formula to success."
If anyone was to miss game time in this vital series, fans of the South Beach team will be relieved to hear that it won’t be Butler, who has been a key addition and a big pulling force behind their success this year.