MIAMI — It’s been a tough start to the season for the Heat.
Not just because Miami has started with a 5-12 record, but the team has also been dealing with injuries throughout the season.
Starting small forward Justise Winslow has already missed eight consecutive games with a sore left wrist and did not travel with the Heat for their current three-game road trip.
Is Winslow’s wrist injury serious? In this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag, we answer that question and more.
@Adl03_: Any sense that Justise Winslow ‘s sore left wrist injury is worse than expected?
Anthony Chiang: We asked Erik Spoelstra this exact question before Monday’s game. So I’ll let coach answer this question for you.
“No,” Spoelstra said when asked if Winslow’s injury is worse than he anticipated. “We didn’t necessarily know, but it’s in a tough area. And playing through it was aggravating it. It definitely was not getting better. So he’s been able to take care of that with rest. It’s still not where he wants it to be. But some areas take a little bit longer. The wrist, there are a lot of moving parts to that.”
Spoelstra isn’t wrong, especially when it comes to Winslow’s left wrist. Winslow is a lefty and was really struggling to shoot the ball. Winslow was shooting 33.1 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three before deciding to take time off to allow the injury to heal. Spoelstra and Winslow won’t blame those struggles on the wrist injury, but it’s hard to believe that it didn’t impact those shooting numbers at all.
“[Justise] wouldn’t want to make an excuse for it and we’re not going to make an excuse certainly not for anything that may be perceived on the outside,” Spoelstra said when asked if Winslow’s sore wrist was to blame for his shooting struggles. “He was making a lot of plays for this basketball team. We notice that when he’s out, and that’s on both sides of the floor. So if you’re only looking at field goal percentage, that doesn’t do his game justice. It doesn’t because he makes a lot of plays.”
But with Winslow not on this week’s three-game road trip, the injury is going to force him to miss at least 11 consecutive games. That’s no minor wrist injury. It just seems like the Heat knew what they were getting into when they decided to keep Winslow out.
@Lets_GoHeat: Are the Heat holding injured players out longer because of their current record?
Anthony Chiang: Yes and no. Does that make sense? I don’t believe the Heat are making up all of these injuries to tank their way to a top pick in the draft. This organization would never do that this early in the season. But I do believe there’s less urgency to get back on the court after such a poor start to the season. It’s natural. A player is more likely to play through injury if there are serious stakes involved. But with the Heat now 5-12, players can take time to get as close to 100 percent as possible.
Sean: Should Tyler Johnson wear a mouthguard?
Anthony Chiang: Probably. Tyler Johnson lost another tooth during last week’s loss to the Pistons and it’s even forced him to miss time. Johnson missed Monday’s loss to the Celtics due to oral surgery and is questionable for Wednesday’s game in Denver. It’s not the first time Johnson has dealt with a shattered tooth on the basketball court, as he lost a tooth during a summer league game last year. He also lost a tooth on the college level. Maybe it’s time for Johnson to start wearing that mouthguard …