As if the Miami Heat weren’t dealing with enough injuries, guard Max Strus hurt his back in Tuesday night’s Game 2 loss.
Strus sustained the injury with just over six minutes left in the third quarter of Miami’s 111-105 loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday. Strus was attempting to take a charge on Knicks guard Josh Hart and landed hard on his lower back. After landing, he immediately grabbed for his lower back in obvious pain.
Strus remained in the game for a couple of minutes before hobbling to the locker room with 4:16 left in the third quarter with what the Heat diagnosed as a lower back contusion. He returned midway through the fourth quarter but did not take a single field goal attempt after re-entering the game. Before the injury, Strus had recorded 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range.
“Just fell on it,” Strus said. “It’ll be good to wait [to play] until Saturday.”
The Heat don’t play again until Saturday, when they host Game 3 at Kaseya Center, and are hoping they’ll have Strus available. Strus has started in each of Miami’s games in the postseason. He’s averaging 8.1 points on 50% shooting (41.4% from 3-point range) and 3 rebounds in the playoffs.
“He was able to get back in there, stay warm and he was really good tonight, as well, and even putting his body in harm’s way several times,” Spoelstra said. “That was just one of the car wreck collisions. But he has a couple days to get healthy.”
In addition to Strus, the Heat were already monitoring the condition of Jimmy Butler’s sprained right ankle. Butler was listed as questionable for Tuesday and was considered a game-time decision by the team before being ruled out. With five full days between games, the Heat are optimistic Butler will be ready to go Saturday.
Other Heat guards Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo are dealing with longterm injuries sustained in Miami’s first-round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. Herro, with a broken hand, could return if the Heat were to make a run to the NBA Finals. Oladipo has been ruled out for the postseason with a left knee injury.
If Strus is unavailable to the Heat, they would likely start Duncan Robinson in his place, with Kyle Lowry available off the bench.