Miami Heat: We’ll wait a while to see P.J. Tucker back in FTX Arena

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles against P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles against P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Having to wait almost five months into the season before they can, the Miami Heat will welcome P.J. Tucker back into the FTX Arena for the first time on March 1st. They’ll face their former guy for the first time in just the game before, one on February 27th that will be played in Philadelphia in front of a national crowd on NBATV.

After his one lone and very successful season with the Miami Heat, Tucker went to Houston—we mean Philadelphia, to join quite a few of his former Houston Rockets comrades.

To be frank, the Houston reference is a fair one, as they appear to be Houston 2.0 when you consider the Daryl Morey and James Harden presence. In fact, the NBA, as a league, seemed to think there was some fire to that smoke as well, opening an investigation on the Philadelphia 76ers for tampering near the end of July.

The Miami Heat and P.J. Tucker seemed made for each other all year long last season. That’s a huge part of why it hurt so bad to see him leave for Philly.

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No matter how it happened, the only thing that matters right now is that it did. As far as the Miami Heat go, it’s all about figuring out a way to replace what Tucker did for their team on a night-to-night basis as they head into the season.

And it’s bigger than just replacing his 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game for the Miami Heat last season. In fact, those don’t seem like influential numbers at all and they might not be in a vacuum.

But P.J. Tucker’s game and impact don’t exist in a vacuum at all. It’s more about his intangibles than his raw numbers.

It’s about his defensive effort, such as that played on Jayson Tatum during the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s about his tenacity and physicality, something that displayed itself all season long for the Miami Heat in the toughest of moments.

And that’s not to mention his 41.5 percent range shooting and though that’s a stat, it’s bigger than just the number. P.J. Tucker didn’t only make a high percentage of his shots—but he hit some big ones when his team needed them the most.

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The Miami Heat have big shoes to fill when it comes to Tucker’s absence, that’s for sure. What you can’t be so sure about though—is what pair of actual shoes a guy like P.J. Tucker will be wearing in his first time back in FTX since spurning the Heat this past offseason.