Injury deja vu for Miami Heat's Tyler Herro provokes urgency once again

For at least two weeks, the Miami Heat will have to rely on other players to step up while Tyler Herro heals from a Grade 2 ankle sprain.

Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat
Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Before their remarkable playoff performance last season, the Miami Heat had an unstable regular season marred by injuries to key players, causing them to miss substantial playing time. That was very much the storyline of Heat guard Tyler Herro. From bouncing back after a postseason injury last year and another summer of trade rumors surrounding former Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard, Herro has been through a whirlwind through the last eight months.

In preparation for this NBA season, Herro revamped his game during the offseason with a metaphorical chip on his shoulder and a want to prove himself. His numbers have certainly softened the blow of Miami not landing Lillard, as Herro has had the best start of his career, averaging 25.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

Herro's latest injury: "I heard some crunching and cracks in my ankle."

While Tyler has proved he has what it takes to be a superstar, the unfortunate timing of his injury has brought on flashbacks to the Heat last postseason and leaves some looming questions. Now, Miami will have to quickly readjust the rotation and figure out how to win games. However, overcoming adversity is something this team has become accustomed to. Sounds like deja vu, doesn't it?

What was a comeback story has turned into an unlucky turn of events for Herro, who badly sprained his right ankle in the first quarter of Wednesday's win in Memphis after it twisted at a 90-degree angle when he stepped on power forward Jaren Jackson Jr.'s foot. After the game, Herro vividly recalled the moment he got hurt.

"Right when it happened I felt it," Herro said. "And I kind of knew mentally. I heard some crunching and cracks in my ankle. I’m hanging in there. It was unfortunate. It was just spur of the moment, a floater, a shot that I shoot multiple times a game. Just unfortunate to land on his foot. I don’t feel the best. But, you know, I’ll be straight. I'm just going to continue to work hard. I've been through this injury stuff before. I'm just going to keep working."

Injuries aren't new for the Heat, especially for Herro who missed virtually all of the Heat's Finals run with a broken right hand he suffered in their first playoff game.

"It feels like I broke my hand yesterday,” Herro said.  “Starting the season how I did and then this comes across, just another setback, but I’m ready to keep going.”

Thankfully, this time is different, as Herro will return this season. He is in a walking boot for 10 days and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

But here Miami is again, without their most creative scorer. It's uncertain how the Heat will fare without him. This time they won't have the support of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who helped during their journey to the 2023 NBA Finals but left this past summer as free agents.

However, Miami is known for its motto "1% better" when it comes to the development of its players. Here there is a chance to test what the Heat consider a strength this season: The depth of the roster.

Next man up

With their current roster, the Heat will need to improve by more than just 1% in certain areas, such as second-chance points allowed and turnovers, to name a few. For at least two weeks, the Heat will have to rely on others to step up while Herro heals from a Grade 2 ankle sprain.

“We’ll get him back when we get him back,” said Bam Adebayo, who contributed to Wednesday night's victory with a season-high 30 points against the Grizzlies. “But the biggest thing for him is getting healthy and being able to play at that high level he’s been at.”

“Boy Wonder’s a special kid,” Kyle Lowry added. “He’s going to take his time and get right. You know, the next-man-up type stuff that we do.”

During Wednesday night's game, Lowry stepped up with a season-high 17 points. The Heat will need more from him and Jimmy Butler, who is rounding into form after a slow start, for these next few weeks.

Among the reserves, this would be a good time to see more from Josh Richardson, who plays the same position as Herro but has struggled early in his return stint in Miami. The only one who shouldn't be asked to do more is Bam Adebayo. He is doing plenty already. Consistency is the key. Duncan Robinson will start in Herro's place and has a chance to showcase his developing talents, especially as a passer and from 2-point range.

While the Heat have had a shaky start to the season, they go into this long road trip winning three straight. They are 4-4 after Wednesday's win over the Grizzlies, which marked the beginning of a stretch where they will play nine out of 10 games on the road. Saturday, Miami takes on the division-leading Hawks in Atlanta. Then they face Victor Wembanyama's Spurs in San Antonio before a trip to Charlotte as part of the NBA's new In-Season Tournament.

Replacing Herro won't be easy, but the Heat have been here before.

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