Victor Oladipo offers hope, which has been shockingly short-lived for the Heat

In times like these, when the best wins, like Friday night’s against the Boston Celtics, end up being followed by the worst results, like losing to the Memphis Grizzlies and the awful Detroit Pistons, hope is embraced wherever it can . To be found.

Right now, as the Miami Heat regroup after back-to-back horrible losses, hope is wearing #4.

That provided at least a measure of optimism from Tuesday night’s 116-96 loss to Detroit, which dropped the Heat to 11-14 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

No, Victor Oladipo’s season debut after months of pushing through knee soreness isn’t a panacea for everything that ails Erik Spoelstra’s team in this unexpectedly flat start to the season. But the former All-Star’s return is a step forward for a team that seemingly only got to this stage.

“On the human side,” Spoelstra said, “forget about basketball or how he performed or how he looked. I don’t mean to say that I don’t care or that it’s irrelevant. But the human part is that you are genuinely happy for him.

“He’s been through a lot, really, in the last three years. And he had to show a lot of perseverance and strength, to do most of his work when no one was even paying attention to him. That can be very lonely. And it’s hard for anyone. So for him just to go back there, I think it was a big step for him.”

It was, in many ways, a comeback for the 30-year-old guard that mirrored the Heat’s season. One step forward, a few steps back, he staggered along the road.

Over 18:32 in Game 1 of Thursday night’s three-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oladipo shot 3-of-9 for nine points, two rebounds and two assists, the Heat outscored by 12 when he was on the court . instance.

“Obviously it wasn’t what we wanted or wanted,” Oladipo said of the Heat’s third loss in the last four games after a three-game winning streak. “But it’s definitely good to be playing again. So it’s good to be there. I am optimistic. I’m just going to keep getting better. And everything will take care of itself.”

Perhaps the most encouraging sign, Spoelstra said, was that Oladipo came out of his season debut capable of more.

“As I was walking by,” Spoelstra said during his postgame interview Tuesday, “he was already in the weight room and had some extra work. So that’s a good sign that the minutes were good. And I think that’s because it’s been a proper, sound plan over the last few weeks to get him to this point.”

With so many players in and out of the lineup this season due to injury and other reasons, including Jimmy Butler being released on Tuesday for what the team called his “right knee; Injury Management,” an earlier Oladipo return could have prevented that climb.

But as has been the case with his knee problems the past four seasons, Oladipo said caution must be the priority.

“Honestly, we came up with a whole plan a while ago,” Oladipo said. “So just following the guidelines, listening to my body, seeing how I respond to the load, seeing how I respond to the game and being active and training and stuff.

“So the last two, three weeks, I’ve been doing really well, I’ve been responding really well. So we felt like this was a good day to come back and try to come here and play. I felt good. The bright side of it all is that my body felt good and I felt good there. So the sky’s the limit.”

So, yes, hope amid anxiety for a team that had much higher expectations in the standings.

“I am extremely happy for him. I see how hard he’s worked,” guard Tyler Herro said. “Even in the summer, we were together in LA, seeing how hard he worked all offseason to get to this point.

“I told him at the beginning of the game, he missed a couple of buckets that he usually makes and I told him he looked good. He came out in transition, how he ran, how he moved. I thought it looked good.”

Amid the Heat’s shutdown, which has been the injury absences of so many on the roster, including Butler, and now center Dewayne Dedmon and Gabe Vincent, who were also out Tuesday, Spoelstra tempered Oladipo’s expectations.

“Because there’s going to be a minutes restriction for any X amount of time,” Spoelstra said. “But the most important thing is that it feels great.”

And so, therefore, he was hoping for a uniform no. 4, when hope was so limited.

“I think it takes time,” Oladipo said of himself and his team. “We have a very talented team. We have a lot of versatility, a lot of guys that can do a lot of things. And guys have been in and out of the lineup, dealing with injuries. So, you know, it takes time for things to click. And, you know, as guys get healthy, as guys come back into the lineup, we’ll figure it out and things will get better.

“It will click and make sense as we build some consistency.”


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