Victor Oladipo expected to make Heat debut Thursday vs. Warriors, has Dwyane Wade seal of approval

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Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read
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Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday that Victor Oladipo is expected to make his debut with the team Thursday night against the Golden State Warriors at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Even with the Heat on the road since acquiring Oladipo from the Houston Rockets at last Thursday’s NBA trading deadline for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley, Spoelstra said there has been constant contact.

“Quite a bit,” Spoelstra said ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “He’s ready to go.”

Oladipo has been listed as out due to a head cold, but Spoelstra said the 28-year-old veteran guard has been working at AmericanAirlines Arena with assistant coach Caron Butler.

“We’ve had several Zoom sessions,” Spoelstra said, “just to review and try to fast track our system. But he’s a savvy, high-IQ veteran player. He’s going to pick up things very quickly.

“He’s been able to work out the last couple of days with Caron at the Arena, so they’ve been able to review some things, as well. I’ve talked him and we’ll see him when we get to Miami. All these circumstances are different than in a normal season, and these are just another example of how you have to adapt.”

Spoelstra said Butler has been away from the Heat due to pandemic protocols, as has also been the case with forwards KZ Okpala and Udonis Haslem.

Among those who Spoelstra reached out to with the Oladipo acquisition was former Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who has had a longtime relationship with Oladipo, having both played collegiately under Tom Crean — Wade at Marquette, Oladipo at Indiana.

But Spoelstra said there wasn’t any sort of background checking where he also contacted current Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren or former Pacers coach Nate McMillan, who now coaches the Atlanta Hawks. Oladipo started this season with the Pacers.

“I feel like I know Vic,” Spoelstra said. “I did reach out to Dwyane. They’ve been working out together for years. And Dwyane, Vic and Coach Crean would always do like a weeklong training camp during the summer and get together. And I was always aware about what was going on during that week.

“So we’re very familiar with him. We feel comfortable with guys that have been coached by Coach Crean, because you’re going to get developed the right way and held accountable to the details. And I think you see that in his play. He’s an IQ player that sees the game.”

Spoelstra said the Heat were well aware of what they were getting, without needing to debrief those he played under in the league.

“I think he can really help take our defense to an even more dynamic level, just with his ability to make some things happen on that side of the floor,” Spoelstra said. “So it’s not out of disrespect of that or not even that I don’t need to know, or not doing the homework on him.

“But we know what he’s like from competing against him for a long time, and then he comes from a lineage that we’re pretty familiar with.”

Oladipo last played March 21 in a Rockets loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 23 points in 41 minutes.