The way things have been going for the Miami Heat on the injury front, Dwyane Wade was hardly surprised to find out backup point guard Beno Udrih would be undergoing season-ending surgery for a torn plantar plate in his right foot.
“I mean it's hard to say it surprised me with the way we've taken body blows these last couple seasons,” Wade said Wednesday morning after shoot around as the Heat (32-24) prepared to host the Warriors (50-5) at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It's unfortunate for Beno. He's someone we're going to miss on the basketball court. But, we're going to do what we do. The next guy has to come in and bring something different to the game. It's not ideal for us at all. It sucks. But it's the nature of the beast.”
The Heat said Udrih will be out for three months, which means the earliest he could return would be late May — around the same time as the Eastern Conference finals, should the Heat make it that far.
“Tough news about Beno. I feel for him,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was really rounding into shape and really getting into a comfort level with our organization. You just feel for guys. But at this point in the year in terms of the team it's next man up. We'll adjust accordingly and we've been using our versatility anyway. We'll make the necessary adjustments, whatever's required.”
Udrih’s loss leaves the Heat with just one true point guard in Goran Dragic and 10 healthy players on the roster. Spoelstra said Dragic will have to see more minutes in the immediate future and get help from rookie combo guard Josh Richardson and others.
Dragic, who said his legs were “done” after playing 40 minutes in Monday’s overtime win over the Pacers, politely grinned when he heard Spoelstra had said he’s going to squeeze more minutes out of him.
“I mean, I'll try to do the best I can,” Dragic said. “Of course, it's a lot of minutes. But, I'm a competitive guy.”
Spoelstra said Wade and forwards Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts will have to collectively help in bringing the ball up the floor and setting up the Heat’s offense when Dragic rests.
Wade, who played some point guard as a rookie, said he expects Spoelstra to play around with his substitution patterns to try and have him and Dragic out on the floor at different times to help make up for Udrih’s loss.
“I'm fine with that — being a point guard,” Wade said. “I'm a shooting guard, but I like to make plays as well. It’s just about understanding what sets to get into and when to get us into it."
McRoberts said he’s comfortable bringing the ball up the court in spots, but added “obviously I’m not Beno.” He said the team has confidence in Richardson. “He's an older rookie too,” McRoberts said. “That helps, too."
The Heat, which got under the luxury tax threshold right before the trade deadline, could opt to sign another guard to a 10-day contract in the coming days to help fill the void immediately. But the more likely scenario, and the way for the team to stay under the tax and avoid future consequences as a luxury tax repeater, would be to wait until around March 8 to add another player to the roster.
“I'm not even thinking about that right now,” Spoelstra said when asked if he’s pushed the front office to add another player to the roster. “We constantly meet. But tonight, this is our group. We have enough. We'll have to use our versatility and leverage that as much as we need to."
▪ Entering Wednesday's game, the Heat was leading the league in rebounds (59.7) by more than seven a game and offensive rebounds (16.3 per game) by more than three a game in the week's worth of games since the All-Star break. Before the break, Miami ranked 16th in rebounds (43.1) and 27th in offensive rebounds (9.0) per game.
Miami has also upped its pace from 29th in the league to 14th.
“I think that's been crucial,” Dragic said of Miami’s improved rebounding numbers and pace. “If we rebound the ball well, especially offensively, that gives us extra possessions and it doesn't put as much pressure on our offense. You can play freely. We're a good team when we rebound and we run. It's tough to beat us."