Why the Miami Heat are in a perfect position in the Eastern Conference

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 1: Josh Richardson
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 1: Josh Richardson /

The 2017-18 Miami Heat have the chance to top a weakened Eastern Conference.

The Miami Heat have the perfect opportunity to make a splash in the Eastern Conference.

Early injuries separate the pack from the opportunists. That’s where the silver lining pops up.

It’s a horrible moment when a NBA player goes down with an injury like Gordon Hayward’s. Even worse, when it’s the first game of the season with a new team and environment. A sad image, through and through. And although his surgery was successful, his confidence and self-esteem in place for an earlier comeback, the fact of the matter remains that his status is doubtful for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately, injuries like this happen. There’s no way around them. And while it can get painful and frustrating, some teams just have to adjust to these kind of injuries. While the rest step up.

Like the Heat.

Even though Miami has also endured early season injuries (a la Rodney McGruder), thankfully enough, there aren’t any critical or season-ending damages.

Hassan Whiteside is due back by this Saturday from a bruised knee, and Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters are game-time decisions against the San Antonio Spurs, likely suiting up. They face a very tough test tonight against the Spurs, but remain hopeful their depth will be enough to come out victorious.

After tonight’s matchup, Miami continues their home stand with the next three games at home, before taking a long six game road trip.

With the Boston Celtics struggling but still maintaining afloat the conference without Hayward, their team is vulnerable, relying heavy on Kyrie Irving and two rookies.

As for the Cleveland Cavaliers, while they also have held their position at the top, they are dealing with injuries themselves. Isaiah Thomas is out until mid-January with an injured hip, Dwyane Wade is batting knee issues and Derrick Rose has an ankle sprain.

In terms of the other half of the conference, that’s still a huge question mark. With the likes of the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks making noise, while the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers are slipping.

This is where Miami can take advantage, and make a strong run to control their rank and pace early on in the season. It can be done and the Heat, barring any more injuries, have the depth and rotations to achieve that.

The Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors are the only teams that have both remained healthy and have the experience locking in mid-seed ranks. Miami can keep up with the challenge though, as long as they can avoid late game errors. They need to stay consistent, alongside taking advantage of the injury bug that has unfortunately affected some teams early on.

Next: Miami Heat 3-point shooting: the good, the bad and the ugly

Let’s just hope Miami doesn’t join that group, too.