Miami Heat stars Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo have been made available for Monday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Kaseya Center, clearing the way for their returns after extended absences.
Herro has missed 18 straight games with a right ankle sprain he sustained in a Nov. 8 game in Memphis.
Adebayo will return after seven straight games missed due to a left hip contusion that had been bothering him for most of the season. The Heat hope the time off will help the injury heal fully.
Why Herro’s return matters:
Before sustaining a right ankle sprain in a Nov. 8 game in Memphis, Herro had been the Heat’s leading scorer while posting career highs in points (25.3), rebounds (5.6), assists (5) and steals (1.4) through the first seven games of the season.
Herro, the starting shooting guard to open the season, has been replaced in the lineup by Duncan Robinson. Robinson is averaging 16.4 points on 48.6% shooting overall (46.2% on 3s) and 3.6 assists as a starter and the Heat are 11-5 in those games, resuscitating the years-old conversation over whether Miami is better starting Herro, or bringing the former Sixth Man of the Year off the bench.
Why Adebayo’s return matters:
The Heat had the league’s 10th-ranked defense before Adebayo’s extended absence. Since then? 21st.
Miami’s defensive rating has dropped from 111.8 before Adebayo was sidelined to 120.0 over the last seven games – worse than struggling Warriors, Bucks and Bulls units during that span.
Adebayo has been laying the groundwork for another Defensive Player of the Year finalist campaign. His 10 absences through the first 26 games means he can only miss another seven games all season to be eligible for end-of-season awards.
But the most important thing here is Adebayo’s impact on defense, especially with the mighty Timberwolves coming into town. Adebayo will fortify Miami’s frontcourt and paint defense, and help provide some interference against Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert (12.7 points on 61.7% shooting, 12 rebounds per game) and Karl-Anthony Towns (22.4 points on 51.6% shooting, 9.5 rebounds per game).