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Erik Spoelstra: Heat being forced to play shorthanded might have exacerbated Tyler Herro’s injury

Heat guard Tyler Herro vs. 76ers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 14: Tyler Herro #14 of the Miami Heat passes the ball against Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers on January 14, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards, despite having have the minimum eight available players for a game, successfully lobbied for a postponement.

The NBA’s decision looked both sensible and inconsistent.

Though Washington had a historically long layoff due to a coronavirus outbreak, the league forced other teams to play shorthanded.

That included the Heat, who lost twice to the 76ers with just eight players last week. Tyler Herro played a season-high 39 minutes in the first game against Philadelphia then 32 minutes a couple nights later. He has since missed Miami’s last three games with neck spasms.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, via Ira Winderman of the South Florida SunSentinel:

“I think it took a little bit of noise coming from us, and from Philadelphia,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday, “when you’re going through it the first time, just to let everybody know that this probably isn’t right.”
“There’s no telling for sure if this is why Tyler missed these games,” Spoelstra said. “But it definitely didn’t help that he had to play and play that many minutes. We didn’t have anybody else at that point. If he didn’t play, then we would have had seven.”
“In hindsight,” Spoelstra said, “based on what you’re seeing, we probably just would have not allowed him to play, and we’d have been forced into a postponement.”

The 76ers were louder publicly with their objections. But good for Spoelstra speaking out now. Transparently discussing these unprecedented issues is the best way to find the most sensible rulings.

This rushed season increases injury risk. That only multiplies when rosters thin.

The NBA’s stance on postponements is clearly evolving. That’s not necessarily fair to the teams that already got harsher treatment. But it’s better if the league proceeds with greater emphasis on player safety.