Heat, Magic out to win battle of shorthanded squads

The Miami Heat now are without their top two centers due to injuries.

When Miami hosts the Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon, it will do so without All-Star starter Bam Adebayo and his backup, Dewayne Dedmon. Adebayo is expected to miss another few weeks due to a torn ligament in his right thumb. The Heat announced on Friday that Dedmon will miss one or two weeks due to a sprained left knee.

Dedmon was injured in Thursday’s 115-112 win over the Detroit Pistons.

«I felt like everybody else felt when he went down and slapped his hand on the floor,» Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Dedmon. «My heart sank.»

The Heat could turn to 6-foot-11 undrafted rookie Omer Yurtseven at center. He is Miami’s only healthy player who stands taller than 6-foot-8.

Against Detroit, Yurtseven had eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds while playing a career-high 25 minutes. The 23-year-old has played just 24 NBA games, including zero starts.

Jimmy Butler, a 6-8 forward and Miami’s best all-around player, has missed 12 of the Heat’s past 13 games due to a bruised tailbone. His return appears imminent, but Miami has been cautious since bringing him back too early on Dec. 6, only to see Butler get reinjured.

Miami’s frontcourt woes also extend to a pair of 245-pounders: P.J. Tucker (leg) and Markieff Morris (neck).

Miami will rely on point guard Kyle Lowry, who ranks fifth in the NBA in assists average (8.2), and Tyler Herro, the league’s leading scorer off the bench (20.7) points per game.

Orlando, meanwhile, has perhaps the longest injured/sick list in the NBA with 11 players out, including five due to COVID protocols.

The Magic, who have lost to the Heat four straight times, are looking for their first win over Miami since almost exactly one year ago: Dec. 23, 2020.

To break that losing streak, the Magic will rely primarily on point guard Cole Anthony, who leads the team in scoring (20.0) and assists (5.8) as well as 6-9 small forward Franz Wagner, who is third among NBA rookies in scoring (15.0).

«The thing that sticks out the most (about Wagner), besides his IQ, is his competitive spirit,» Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. «He wants to do things right all the time.»

Orlando’s top inside player is power forward Wendell Carter Jr., who is averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 10.0 rebounds. He could have a big game against Miami’s depleted front line.

The Magic are hoping to get combo guard R.J. Hampton back in time to play the Heat. Hampton, 20, is out of COVID protocol, but his status for Sunday will be determined by his conditioning. He hasn’t played a game since Dec. 15.

Even if he returns, however, the Magic are without their top shot-blocker in Mo Bamba (2.2) and their highest-drafted rookie, Jalen Suggs, who is out for three weeks due to a fractured right thumb. Bamba has an ankle injury and is also in COVID protocol.

Other key Magic absences include guards Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) and Markelle Fultz (knee) and wings Terrence Ross (COVID protocol) and Jonathan Isaac (knee).

–Field Level Media