Miami Heat: James Johnson is slowly making his way back

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 7: James Johnson
ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 7: James Johnson /

Injuries were the headline of 2017-18 for the Miami Heat. James Johnson is making a push to make sure he’s not apart of that this season.

An offseason hernia surgery has put the start of the 2018-19 season in question for one of the Miami Heat’s power forwards.

After missing the entire preseason, James Johnson was back on the court Monday for his first full practice.

And while Johnson’s status for the season opener tomorrow night at Orlando is still in question, Miami is ecstatic to see him taking this step. After slowly trying to find his way back to normalcy since his May surgery, it’s likely that even if he plays, he could be under limited minutes; he simply hasn’t had enough time to be game ready.

The team isn’t just anxious to have him back for what he can physically provide on the court though; despite the fact that he is the epitome of what the Heat want on defense, for example. In the March 27 meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Johnson played stout defense on LeBron James, on the way to a 98-79 Heat victory.

But more so, without Johnson out on the floor, Miami is missing a huge part of their infamous culture.

He illustrates it clearly with his urge to be back with the guys. And Johnson has never backed down from a challenge.

Miami also missed Wayne Ellington throughout the preseason, but he is hopeful to be ready in time for the opener.

Unfortunately, lineups could be as unstable as they were last year, with the number of injuries the Heat may come into the season with. Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo could be seeing extended time between the four and rotating with Hassan Whiteside at the five.

Nevertheless, Johnson is continuing to work hard to make his return as soon as possible and it seems close. It will be worth keeping an eye on early in the season, to see how head coach Erik Spoelstra handles different lineups and splits minutes, once guys like Johnson come back.

Last season, it seemed that the Heat had a different leader every night. With the majority of the same team coming back and facing some of the same struggles, Miami will have to do something different to improve from a first-round playoff exit.

While a lot expect the same results to repeat from last season, Miami looks to break that mold.

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Just one more day until the Heat’s 2018-19 campaign officially begins.