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Heat’s Tucker out at least a week as MRI confirms calf strain;  NBA sets playoff schedule – The Denver Post

The Miami Heat will be without veteran forward PJ Tucker for the final two games of the regular season, and potentially longer.

An MRI revealed a calf strain that the team says will sideline Tucker for at least a week. The Heat wrap up the regular season with games Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks at FTX Arena and Sunday on the road against the Orlando Magic. The playoffs will then begin on the weekend of April 16 and 17.

Tucker, 36, has been a staple in the Heat’s starting lineup, starting in 70 of his 71 appearances. Signed in the offseason to a two-year deal that includes a player option for next season, the 6-foot-5 veteran has helped space the floor with his 3 corner points and anchor the defense with his ability to defend opposing power attackers, as well as perimeter markers.

In Tucker’s absence, Heat options at the position include Caleb Martin and Markieff Morris, who had fallen out of rotation after returning from a 58-game absence with whiplash. Morris started in place of Tucker in Sunday night’s road win over the Toronto Raptors, when Tucker was given an evening off. Martin started that match in place of Jimmy Butler, who also received that night.

Tucker was injured during the third quarter of Tuesday night’s victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets, limping to the locker room.

Assistant Chris Quinn, who replaced coach Erik Spoelstra was sidelined due to NBA health and safety protocols, said Tucker’s health was the priority.

“Obviously the bigger picture with Tuck and his health, him a big part of what we do defensively, especially,” Quinn said, “but also offensively, he’s so selfless, he always plays for the team. He doesn’t always care how many shots he gets, which is a big factor in our team.

“So obviously we’re going to miss him these last two games, but going forward it’s more important that he’s healthy.”

The decision on a replacement could hinge on whether the Heat are looking for the speed Martin can provide or the physicality and toughness of Morris.

“That’s what we’ve been dealing with for a lot of the season, guys in and out,” Quinn said, “and people asked to play different roles, depending on the game and the week. Caleb brings obviously more speed. He’s had a great year, he’s really proven himself. And then ‘Keif brings another presence, a physique, a veteran size.

“So those two guys did well when they had opportunities to play. And we will continue to rely on them without Tuck.

Rookie center Omer Yurtseven was also absent from Thursday’s practice due to illness. The team said Yurtseven had been tested for COVID, with those results coming back negative.

Replacing Spoelstra for a fifth straight day, including coaching the team to wins over the Raptors and Hornets, Quinn said Thursday: “Like anything else, the more you do something, the more comfortable you feel. “

Match schedule

The NBA has announced the schedule for the play-in tournament, a schedule that will likely leave the Heat with considerable anticipation before learning their first-round playoff opponent.

The NBA announced that the No. 7 seed from the regular season East will host the No. 8 seed on Tuesday, with the winner getting the No. 7 seed and facing the No. 2 seed.

The No. 9 seed will host the No. 10 seed on Wednesday, with the winner of that match playing against the loser of the match between No. 7 and 8 on Friday to determine the No. 8 seed and the right to play. face the No. 1 crash.

The timing almost assures that the Heat’s playoff opener at FTX Arena will take place on April 17.

injury report

In addition to Tucker’s absence, the Heat listed six players as questionable for Friday night against the Hawks: Dewayne Dedmon (ankle), Haywood Highsmith (hip), Martin (calf), Morris (hip), Gabe Vincent (toe ) and Yurtseven (non-Covid disease).

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