Miami Heat‘s head coach Erik Spoelstra confidently stated that the team has moved on from the violent altercation between Markieff Morris and Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic however, the veteran forward hasn’t been seen or heard from since taking a blindside hit to the back on November 8.
The Heat announced on Thursday, December 2, that Morris would not be traveling with the team to take on the Indiana Pacers on Friday, which means the 32-year-old will be missing his 14th straight game.
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What’s especially disconcerting is that the organization has been especially cagey about giving updates on Morris’s status. At first, he was ruled out due to whiplash, and now he remains out due to a neck injury. Spoelstra has not discussed whether he’s improving or even hinted at his possible return date.
In fact, the last time Spoelstra spoke about Morris was on November 20. “It is disappointing,” Spoelstra said of the forward’s extended absence due to Jokic’s hit. “A very dangerous play and it’s really unfortunate. That’s the byproduct of those kind of dangerous actions. But he is feeling better and we’ll just continue to take it one day at a time.”
On the other side of things, Jokic, the NBA’s reigning MVP, hit the town with his brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja Jokic, after beating the Heat for the second straight time. Adding insult to injury, the trio was spotted partying it up in Miami’s nightlife.
While Morris Remained Out During the Heat Vs. Nuggets Rematch, Jokic Dominated
Following the incident at the Ball Arena last month, the NBA subsequently announced that Jokic, 26, would be suspended one game without pay, an estimated $210,417 in lost wages, and Morris would be fined $50,000. Jimmy Butler was also hit with a penalty, handed a $30,000 fine for what the NBA deemed, “attempting to escalate the altercation and failing to comply with an NBA Security interview as part of the review process pertaining to an on-court matter.”
During the highly anticipated rematch between the two teams on November 29 at the FTX Arena, Jokic scored 24 minutes, helping his team once again dominate over the Heat with a 120-111 victory.
The Heat were playing without Jimmy Butler (tail bone) and Tyler Herro (illness), which explains part of the lopsided final score, and of course, Morris.
“It’s in the rearview mirror,” Spoelstra said prior to tipoff, per Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang. “I’m sure NBA security has sent the full team down here. Everybody is going to be on high alert, including the officials. Nothing is going to happen. This is about basketball and also both teams are managing injuries right now.”
While this seemed like a prime moment to discuss Morris’ status, Spoelstra had no comment. Typically, when a player is injured, he’ll at least be cheering the team on from the sidelines, but Morris has not traveled with the team nor has he been seen at the FTX Arena since getting injured.
Heat Star Bam Adebayo Was Taken Out During the Nuggets Rematch
It seems nothing good happens to the Heat when they face the Nuggets. During their most recent tilt, Heat star Bam Adebayo suffered a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb and will undergo surgery this weekend.
While the Heat noted that “a timetable on his return will be provided post-surgery,” Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winder tweeted that Adebayo is expected “to miss approximately six weeks.”
With that timetable, Adebayo could be set to return in January 2022. He’s expected to miss an estimated 20 games.
Losing their starting center is a huge blow for the Heat. Adebayo, who won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer, was having a stellar season thus far. The 24-year-old is averaging 18.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. The former 14th overall pick is also shooting 51.9% from the field.
Even with a busted thumb, Adebayo still managed to put up 24 points in 35 minutes of play against the Nuggets.