The depth of the Miami Heat just took a big blow for the foreseeable future. On Wednesday, the Heat announced that All-Star big man Bam Adebayo suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb during Miami's 120-111 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, and will require surgery.
The Heat indicated a return timetable will be provided following the surgery, though the expected timeline for a return is four to six weeks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. If Adebayo misses six weeks of action, we won't see him back out on the court for the Heat until mid-January.
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Adebayo is in the midst of another solid season for the Heat. Over 18 games, he's averaging 18.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.9 minutes of action per performance. In his absence, Dewayne Dedmon will likely slide into the starting center spot for the Heat, which may be cause for concern. Dedmon has been serviceable in a reserve role, but it's fair to wonder if he'll be able to sustain his production over more minutes. Plus, Dedmon is dealing with a knee bruise of his own.
Aside from Dedmon, additional on-court opportunity will be opened up for reserves like Omer Yurtseven, KZ Okpala, and potentially even veteran Udonis Haslem. Overall, Erik Spoelstra and the Heat will have to employ a team approach as they try filling in for their star center.
Without Adebayo, the Heat will be tasked with staying afloat in a competitive Eastern Conference. Miami is currently tied for third in the East with a 13-8 record, but just two games separate them from the 11th-seeded Celtics, and a whole lot can happen in six weeks. A small skid could result in the Heat finding themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
The Heat don't have an especially tough schedule coming up, but they do have two meetings with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the next week, and two matchups with the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers in the near future, including one on Wednesday night. The good news for the Heat is that Adebayo's injury isn't a season-ending one, and he should be back in plenty of time for Miami to make a playoff push. They just have to do their best to weather the storm in the meantime.