With 4:59 left in the fourth quarter of the Miami Heat’s blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday, Max Strus drove baseline for a dunk. Killian Tillie met him at the rim and blocked the ball. Strus landed awkwardly on the fall down and headed to the locker room.
It’s unfortunate for any player to get injured. But for it to happen to a rotation player when the game is already decided hurts even more. Gabe Vincent and KZ Okpala were at the scorer’s table, about to check in.
Fortunately, the Heat received “good news” after an MRI on Strus’ left knee came back negative. Still, Strus said he expects to miss “a couple of weeks here or there.”
NEW: Heat receives "good news" on Max Strus’ injury. Strus: "As soon as I heard those MRI results, it was just a breath of fresh air. I’m happy with how everything turned out.” https://t.co/xtXRjDtpEx Also, a Bam Adebayo injury update and more— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) November 1, 2021
Strus has served as Miami’s backup wing through the first six games of the season. As I’ve said before, I expect Victor Oladipo to take Strus’ role when he returns. But Oladipo won’t come back in the next two weeks.
The easy answer is for the Heat to slot two-way player Caleb Martin into Strus’ role. Before the season, I said Martin and Strus would compete for the same role. Thus far, Strus won out — he made three of four 3-point attempts Saturday before spraining his left knee.
Martin had his first non-garbage time minutes of the season in Saturday’s win over the Grizzlies. He made six of his 10 shots, but went zero-for-two from downtown. Although he’s not as good of a 3-point shooter as Strus is, Martin is still someone who can contribute in a rotation role for this team.
Erik Spoelstra could go small, playing Gabe Vincent with Kyle Lowry or Tyler Herro on occasion. Such a decision will depend on match-ups, and Vincent will need to hit 3-pointers to stay on the court.
Speolstra may also play Duncan Robinson a little more. Robinson has had a shaky shooting start, but made five 3s on Saturday. He should continue to shoot the 3 around 40 percent as the season goes on.
The Heat could also bring back their other two-way player, Marcus Garrett, from the G League. Garrett wouldn’t slot into a rotation role, but would add depth now that Oladipo and Strus are both sidelined.