The injuries keep hitting like waves on the beach for the Heat.
The latest player to experience a physical setback is Chris Bosh, who apparently strained his calf on Friday night during the Heat’s game against the Utah Jazz. Bosh, who missed Sunday’s marquee game against the Chicago Bulls, said he felt fine in Salt Lake City but, according to coach Erik Spoelstra, Bosh began feeling discomfort in his leg on Saturday afternoon.
Bosh indicated after the Heat’s 93-75 loss that he could be out a while. The Heat plays the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, but Bosh is doubtful for that game.
“Unfortunately, it’s just a wear-and-tear thing,” Bosh said. “It just kind of sprung up on me, and you just have to deal with the tough times, I guess, and find out a way to keep everyone mentally stimulated around here. I’m going to make sure I stay in it and make sure to do what’s necessary to get back out there.”
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With Heat power forward Josh McRoberts still out with an ankle injury, the Heat started Udonis Haslem and Justin Hamilton in the frontcourt against the Bulls. It was the Heat’s eighth different lineup in the past 11 games. In addition to the injuries, the Heat has had seven players sick with flu-like symptoms over the past few weeks.
Spoelstra has preached consistency throughout the difficult stretch, and said Sunday the team can still strive for consistency despite the injuries and illnesses.
“That doesn’t affect our defensive activity and us getting to our principles,” Spoelstra said. “That is something that has to be true no matter who is out. And then offensively can we continue to work our offense to get our important attacks. Yes, Chris is one of our primary attackers, but the commitment to get to those doesn’t matter who is out there or not.”
Without Bosh, the Heat’s offense struggled against the Bulls, despite Chicago being without its best defender, center Joakim Noah. Noah missed the game with an ankle injury but that didn’t matter. The Heat shot well below 40 percent from the field for most of the game.
McRoberts status for Tuesday also is questionable. Spoelstra said McRoberts, who has missed three games with a bruised knee, wasn’t healthy enough for action against the Bulls.
With Bosh and McRoberts injured, the Heat only had 10 players available for service. On Friday, the Heat sent rookies Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside to the team’s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That didn’t help things against the Bulls.
Napier and Whiteside joined Heat rookie guard Andre Dawkins, who has been with the Sioux Falls Skyforce since the beginning of November.
“This made a lot of sense for us to get a lot more time for both those guys when they’ve gone a week or so without practice time and without a lot of game time,” Spoelstra said.
With Bosh and McRoberts questionable for Tuesday against the Nets, Whiteside could rejoin the Heat as early as Monday in New York.
Summer free agent signings became trade eligible at midnight. That means everyone on the Heat’s roster is trade eligible except Whiteside and Dawkins.
The Heat hasn’t made a trade move in December in the history of the franchise, though, so a move or two now would be unprecedented.
It’s always a test of Luol Deng’s emotions when he plays the Bulls. Deng made many lifelong friendships in Chicago, and the Bulls’ roster has remained mostly intact since Deng was traded to the Cavaliers last January.
“I think it’s always going to be strange for me facing the Bulls,” Deng said. “Not because, obviously, it’s Chicago, but because of the guys on the team. They’re really the same guys. Only [Carlos] Boozer is gone, and it’s Pau [Gasol] instead.
“But most of the guys are really the same faces. So, it’s more than a game with those guys. When I see them it’s friends, it’s family, it’s guys who I have done a lot of stuff with. They know a lot about me, and I know a lot about them, so it’s always different facing them.”