How Heat guards have fared with Oladipo out. Playoff ticket info, weekend start times and more

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With the Miami Heat announcing Wednesday that guard Victor Oladipo will miss the remainder of the season, the rest of the team’s guards don’t need to be told to step up in his absence.

Why? Because guards Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn have already picked up their play with Oladipo sidelined.

“You never want to see a player get hurt,” Dragic said in advance of the Heat’s matchup against the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Unfortunately, Vic is out and we wish him all the best, to be back soon. But it’s our job to step up and I think the last few weeks, we’re playing much better and we still need to continue to grow and be ready for the playoffs.”

Oladipo, who was acquired by the Heat in a trade with the Houston Rockets at the NBA trade deadline on March 25, underwent successful surgery in New York on Thursday on the quadriceps tendon in his right knee. The Heat said there is no timetable for his return.

Oladipo, 29, played in just four games — all starts — with the Heat before the injury. He averaged 12 points while shooting 37.2 percent from the field and 23.5 percent on threes, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals in his limited time with Miami this season.

The Heat, which has started Nunn in Oladipo’s place, entered Thursday with an 11-6 record since Oladipo went out and has won 10 of its past 13 games to secure a playoff spot. Dragic, Herro and Nunn have each contributed to Miami’s recent success.

Nunn entered Thursday averaging 16.3 points on efficient 51.5 percent shooting from the field and 38.5 percent shooting on threes in the Heat’s last 17 games since rejoining the starting lineup in Oladipo’s place.

Dragic and Herro have also impressed recently in their reserve roles.

Dragic entered Thursday averaging 17.2 points while shooting 46.7 percent on threes in the past five games. Herro has averaged 21 points on 67.6 percent shooting from the field and 12-of-18 (66.7 percent) shooting from three-point range in the last three games since returning from a foot injury.

The Heat entered its matchup against the 76ers outscoring opponents by a total of 28 points with Dragic and Herro on the court together in the last three games. Before this stretch, the Dragic-Herro duo was a minus-99 for the season.

“The beginning of the season, he was starting, so we did not play much together,” Dragic said. “Then, because of COVID protocols I was out, and then some injuries, so we didn’t have a lot chances to play together. And now, finally, the last few games, we’re clicking again, and it’s good. It’s good. We feed off each other. We still need to work on it and be ready for the playoffs.”

Dragic does not expect to be separated from Herro again in the postseason. Dragic was moved into the starting lineup for last season’s playoffs after spending most of the regular season in a bench role, but he believes he’ll continue to play as a reserve this postseason with Nunn thriving as a starter.

“I don’t expect nothing. I’m just here,” Dragic said. “I’m enjoying [this role], and whatever [coach Erik Spoelstra] needs, I’m here for the team. That’s it. Nothing else. I feel good now. I’ve started playing better. I’m in my comfort zone, so whatever he needs.”

PLAYOFF TICKETS

The Heat will begin offering playoff tickets to season-ticket holders — based on seniority — beginning Monday at 10 a.m., with the season-ticket holder seniority tiers divided into seven levels. That will continue through Tuesday.

Tickets sales for the general public are set to begin Wednesday at noon.

The Heat is expected to increase capacity at AmericanAirlines Arena for the playoffs, but that number is still being decided on. The arena is currently operating at a capacity of about 5,700 or 29 percent of its usual capacity of 19,600, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing teams to limit attendance.

The Heat, which has clinched a playoff spot, will open the postseason on May 22 or 23. It’s still undetermined if Miami will begin the playoffs at home or on the road.

GAME TIMES ANNOUNCED

The NBA announced Thursday all of the start times for games on the final two days of the regular season.

The start times ranged from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., but the Heat will play its final two regular-season games at night. Both of the Heat’s games this weekend — Saturday at Milwaukee Bucks and Sunday at Detroit Pistons — will begin at 8 p.m.

Dragic approves of the night-time starts, preferring it over afternoon games.

“It’s because you have the whole day to prepare for the game,” he said. “In the morning, most of the teams, they have shootarounds, you go through the film, some players take a nap. You just have the whole day to prepare yourself for that game, and if you ask me, I like it for that, too.”

Following Sunday’s game in Detroit, the Heat will have at least five days off before opening the playoffs.

VICE COMES TO AN END

The Heat will wear its “ViceVersa” City Edition uniform for the final time this season on Thursday against the 76ers, which will mark the end of the Vice chapter .... for now. The Heat has not ruled out bringing back the Vice uniforms in future seasons.

The Vice craze began with the white uniform in the 2017-18 season. Then there was the black “Vice Nights” uniform that was released early in the 2018-19 season, and that was followed by the introduction of the laser fuchsia “Sunset Vice” uniform later that same season. It continued last season with the launch of the blue gale” “ViceWave” uniform.

And it ends Thursday when the team sports the “ViceVersa” look for the final time this season.

“We were able to introduce these new colors to the brand and to the franchise that had nothing to do with our traditional team colors,” Heat chief marketing officer Michael McCullough said in November when discussing the final version of the Vice uniforms. “I think that has been one of the reasons it has been so successful. It has given us a chance to reinvent what you think about when you think about the Miami Heat.

“Now we’ve got this whole other world that we get to play in, really, forever. Whether or not we’re going to wear Vice on the court, it’s part of our identity now. So we’re not going to shy away from it. Even if we don’t wear it next season, you will see us using those colors because now that’s part of us. It’s part of our official color scheme. It’s never going to go away.”

How successful has the Vice campaign been?

The revenue from Vice jersey sales over the previous three seasons was five times more than the revenue from Heat jersey sales during the organization’s three championship seasons, according to the team. The Heat has sold more than 190,000 Vice jerseys from their team store and website since the campaign launched in 2017.

BUTLER, EMBIID AVAILABLE

Heat star Jimmy Butler, who was listed as questionable with a right eye contusion, is available and in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game against the 76ers. Butler did not play in the second half of Tuesday’s win over the Boston Celtics after being poked in the eye.

Philadelphia All-Star center and MVP candidate Joel Embiid will also play and start Thursday. Embiid was listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest because of a non-COVID-19 illness.

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