Miami Heat: Another start to the season plagued by injuries

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 23: Udonis Haslem
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 23: Udonis Haslem /

The Miami Heat have been plagued by injuries this season, but just how bad has it been?

The Miami Heat currently sit two games over .500, with an 18-16 record. Not exactly where Heat fans would have thought the team would be at this point. And yet, they should feel grateful because the injury bug hit Miami before the season started and hasn’t let up.

In fact, the list of injured players continues to grow. Currently James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Dion Waiters, Okaro White and Justise Winslow are all on the injury report. With Goran Dragic visibly still dealing with an ailing elbow of his own.

It’s expected that Johnson and Waiters will be able to return soon, but it may come at a cost. Waiters recently said that he would consider surgery on his ankle, but not until the offseason. Already struggling with this lingering injury, putting off surgery could be risky.

Hassan Whiteside was one of those injured players that had previously been a huge loss for the team. While Whiteside made his return versus the Orlando Magic, the center spent a good deal of time out this season suffering from two different bone bruises on the same knee. Only playing in 16 games so far, his presence had been missed on the boards, especially offensively. The Heat currently rank 29th in the league, with just 7.9 offensive boards per game.

If Miami can’t pull down those rebounds, they give away any second-chance points. The Heat are not an efficient enough team to rely on hitting the first shot.

No Consistency

It’s been much bigger than just offensive rebounding this season though. The injury issue has harmed the Heat in every area of the court. At one point the entire starting five was injured, which is why almost every game has a different leading scorer.

Coming into this season, one of the big questions was if this team could mesh well. At many times, the team chemistry has seemed off. But you can’t blame them for that. How can a group really get used to playing with each other while using 11 different starting lineups already?

With so many different lineups, as well as using 15 different players, the court looks different every night. Kelly Olynyk, Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson are the only players who have played in every game. All of which have had big games this year. But even with that, the team doesn’t even get a chance to build the chemistry they need.

Last year, the Heat ended with a starting lineup of Dragic, Johnson, McGruder, Richardson and Whiteside. Four of those players have been injured this year. We haven’t even seen McGruder this season after his surgery. Starting in 65 games last season, the Heat miss his efficiency. Shooting 49 percent, McGruder brought the consistency Miami needs.

The consistency has been so off that last week the Heat lost to the Atlanta Hawks, the worst team in the East, but then beat the Boston Celtics, who lead the Eastern Conference, just two days later.

Can the Heat swing it around?

It’s been a rough start to the season, but the Heat have to be excited about where they are. Sitting at 18-16 with the next two games being against the Brooklyn Nets and then Orlando, the Heat could start a run. With four of the next five games at home, this has the chance to be the turning point of the season.

Looking forward, if the Heat can stay healthy from this point on, they will continue to get better. At some point, it is expected that every current Heat player will return. McGruder is likely the furthest away, but the Heat have made it this far without him.

At this point last season, the Heat were sitting at 10-22.

Next: The Miami Heat pay respect to old home with new jerseys

Now, Miami is in a much better position, while overcoming much more.