Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra tried to make it crystal clear: a pause does not mean a problem but rather progress when it comes to the prudence being practiced with guard Victor Oladipo.
So on the sixth day of his comeback from May quadriceps surgery, Oladipo rested, with Spoelstra giving the 29-year-old veteran Saturday off on the second night of a back-to-back set.
Not because of an issue related to the quadriceps or knee, but just because practicality remaining prioritized in the process.
“This is just a matter of I’m not going to try to fast track this,” Spoelstra said ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at FTX Arena. “This is going to be about us tempering the expectations. It’s just about getting him game minutes, getting in rhythm, helping us win. And then we’ll be able to build it from there.
“But this is just three games. That is the biggest win of all, the fact that he had had three straight years of frustrating health and injury things that he was dealing with. And this is the biggest victory of all, the fact that he’s out here, able to compete.”
Yes, Spoelstra said, the view remains that better days are ahead. But after a pair of surgeries and Oladipo working his way back with three teams, a pause merely is practical after he went 16:39 in Friday night’s 111-90 victory over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Even though it’s just this — and we all want more, I’m sure he wants more, he’s been great about it, the staff would want more, everybody else — this is about being disciplined about this,” Spoelstra said, “and just keep on getting more comfortable and just making these wins with those 15 to 18 minutes.”
Of Oladipo’s 48 minutes, 52 seconds to this stage of his comeback, 36 of those minutes have come alongside Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro, that trio with a healthy 12.6 net rating.
“Well, they’re all really good basketball players. I mean, come on, these guys will be able to figure it out,” Spoelstra said. “As long as we just quiet the noise and the expectations and we’re disciplined about this, there’s a lot of really good things about that.
“But we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”
So, no report card yet, no overanalyzing Oladipo’s 8 of 18 from the field, 2 of 8 on 3-pointers or nine assists to just one turnover.
“I love where Vic is,” Spoelstra said, “but I’m looking at it much differently than everybody else. Everybody’s looking at what’s next, how’s it going to fit, how’s it going to work? How fast are we going to fast track this? It’s not about that, it’s about discipline.
“This is just the biggest win — him getting back out there, and he’s healthy.”
With two off days following the Timberwolves game, Spoelstra said the plan is to have Oladipo back in the mix for Tuesday night’s game against the visiting Detroit Pistons.
“He’s going to do his routine,” Spoelstra said of the intervening days, “and then he’ll be available on Tuesday, which is great.”
With his 30 points and 17 rebounds in Friday night’s victory over the Cavaliers, center Bam Adebayo became the first Heat player to record a 30-15 since Hassan Whiteside did it with 30 points and 20 rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 4, 2017. Five of Adebayo’s seven career 30-point games have come this season . , ,
At 10 of 12 from the line Friday, Heat forward Jimmy Butler reached double figures in foul shots for the 16th time this season. The Heat went into Saturday night 12-4 in such games. , ,
With Friday’s loss, the Cavaliers missed out on the opportunity to sweep the season series for the first time since 2009-10, LeBron James’ final season in Cleveland before joining the Heat for his four-year run in South Florida.