Victor Oladipo, the end-of-season reinforcement who can make the difference for Miami?

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Victor Oladipo, le renfort de fin de saison qui peut faire la différence pour Miami ?

It is hard to imagine the emotion, the satisfaction, the joy and the relief felt by Victor Oladipo as they hit the floor of the FTX Arena in Miami on Monday night. Even more so when Heat fans started chanting his name.

“It was a great feeling. Incredible. Words are not enough to describe it. I thank the fans for doing this for me. It made this moment even more special. The best days are ahead of us. I am optimistic and I can’t wait to see the rest, ”testified the person concerned.

A special moment, that’s for sure. 11 months after his last game, the 29-year-old turned back the NBA grounds again. Almost a year of absence, the time to treat a persistent quadriceps injury which has spoiled his last three seasons. The second pick of the 2014 draft entered his prime after being named All-Star twice in a row in 2018 and 2019.

The obstacle course for 3 years

Since then, he has stayed more often in the infirmary than on the floors. 36 matches then 19 and finally 33 last year. The carnage. A daily, incessant fight to return to the highest level without sinking into doubt or depression.

“Only athletes can understand the work it takes to come back after an injury. All the frustration that entails. But he handled it by staying positive. He is much better physically today than he was last year. In fact, when you think about it, it’s crazy what he managed to do on one leg for almost two seasons,” remarked his coach, Erik Spoelstra.

Victor Oladipo arrived in Miami during last season, having already been transferred from the Indiana Pacers to the Houston Rockets. He compiled almost 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on average, even if he lacked success (40%). But displaying such statistics is not even the priority anymore. The player knows he has come a long way. What he wants above all, now, is to help. Like last night, for his big comeback.

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An encouraging first for Victor Oladipo

Lined up for 15 minutes, he scored 11 points on 4 of 7 on shots while delivering 4 assists. Encouraging. Very encouraging. Because beyond the numbers, it seemed fresh. In good health. Well in his body. Well in his head.

“I continue to strengthen and progress,” he explained afterwards. “It was a very good first round. I must continue. But mentality will always remain the same. I will resist as long as I can breathe. »

An attitude that fits perfectly with his frankness. “Dee-po” has the DNA of a Heat player: combative, athletic, strong defensively. At least when his legs don’t let go. They held the shock on his very first action, when he caused a passage in force. Symbolic.

So yes, this premiere is beautiful. She makes you want to believe it. But it will take much more than that. Because the real challenge is not simply to come back. It is to chain matches, find rhythm, condition and manage to have a regular impact. Only then can he really help Miami.

“He’s going to need a bit of time to get into the swing of things on offense. I know it. But defensively, he is already present, ”says Spoelstra.

Victor Oladipo’s state of health may be one of the keys to the end of the season for Miami. The Florida franchise is first in the East. With or without him, she is armed to go far in the playoffs. But without a real mega superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo Where Joel Embiid – Jimmy Butler is a step below – the South Beach team will have to rely on their collective power. A player with the talent of Oladipo can make the difference on a series off the bench. It’s still far away. But it’s going in the right direction.

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