Heat’s Caleb Martin wants ‘quick results,’ but knows he needs to be patient with himself

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Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin isn’t known for his patience when it comes to dealing with injuries. If it was up to Martin, he would have tried to keep playing through the lingering knee pain instead of missing most of the preseason and 10 straight games early in the regular season.

But with Tuesday night’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks at Kaseya Center only marking Martin’s seventh game since returning less than two weeks ago from left knee tendinosis, he’s trying to have realistic expectations for himself during his first stretch of extended game action in months.

“It’s been like a week, a week and a half since I’ve been back,” Martin, 28, said ahead of Tuesday’s important In-Season Tournament game against the Bucks. “It’s been like six games. You got to think about, I haven’t done anything since before training camp. So this is practically my version of training camp and preseason. So it feels like forever because we’re 17 games in.”

Heat rules out Butler, Herro, Highsmith for Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament game vs. Bucks

Having that type of perspective hasn’t been easy for the competitive Martin, though.

“To me personally, it feels like it’s been a long time when in reality it really hasn’t,” Martin continued. “But I want quick results, I want to just get back to my normal self, too. I just know it’s going to take some time. So I accept that and figure out how to go with that.”

The truth is Martin is still working his way back into form, but he’s looked more like the version of himself lately who became one of the Heat’s most important players during the team’s run to the NBA Finals last season.

After averaging just 5.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 30.6 percent from the field and 5 of 18 (27.8 percent) from three-point range in his first five games after returning from injury, Martin recorded season-highs in points (22), field goals made (9), rebounds (7), assists (3) and minutes (31) in his usual bench role during Saturday’s road loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

“It’s not as if he doesn’t know what our identity is,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about Martin. “He has corporate knowledge of how we want to play. It’s just a matter of getting his legs under him, getting in better rhythm on both sides of the floor. It’s not just offense. Rhythm also is defensively, being able to be an irritant defensively and use his speed and quickness to get teams out of their normal rhythm. That’s been getting better each game.”

Martin has been searching for his rhythm since returning from injury. But he’s also tired of that search at this point

“I’m getting better, definitely getting better as the games go by,” Martin said. “I’m getting more rhythm and getting my feet up under me. I want my rhythm and that’s going to come with time. But like, I want to win games, at the end of the day. I don’t want to be sitting here trying to focus on getting my rhythm. I’m going to get rhythm as the season goes by.

“I don’t want that to be a focus point for me because it gets you away from doing your job and the stuff that you got to focus on to impact winning. My rhythm is going to come. I’m going to end up finding it. That’s not the priority, though. We got to just focus more on how to get wins and impacting winning.”

Martin wants his focus “to be about winning and impacting the game, and that’s going to start on the defensive end regardless,” adding that “I need to be a lot better on that end.”

The good news for Martin and the Heat is that his knee injury isn’t a chronic issue. Instead, the pain was the result of an offseason injury he suffered, and the hope is he’ll continue to feel better the further he gets from the date he hurt himself.

“It wasn’t like I just woke up one day and I was like, ‘Damn, my knees hurt’ or whatever,” Martin said. “It happened because of a specific thing that happened. So I know I’m getting away from that. Something like that to that extent isn’t going to come back unless that happens again. It’s like with Tyler [Herro], when he rolled his ankle, that happened to that degree because he stepped on somebody’s foot and not because he woke up and his ankle hurt.”

Martin, who can become a free agent this upcoming summer with a $7.1 million player option in his contract for next season, averaged career highs in points (9.6 per game), rebounds (4.8) and assists (1.6) last regular season. He hopes to improve on that production this season even after spending the first month of the schedule recovering and working his way back from injury.

“It’s the quick twitch, it’s the multiple efforts, it’s his burst, the speed that makes him unique,” Spoelstra said of Martin. “... You can see how he adds a different element of quickness and speed and that dynamic to our team.”

INJURY REPORT

The Heat ruled out Jimmy Butler (sprained right ankle), Tyler Herro (right ankle sprain), Haywood Highsmith (lower back contusion) Dru Smith (season-ending ACL injury) and R.J. Hampton (right knee sprain) for Tuesday’s matchup against the Bucks.

The Bucks ruled out Marques Bolden, Jae Crowder, TyTy Washington Jr. and Lindell Wigginton for Tuesday’s game in Miami.