All through the regular season, the Miami Heat looked impressive thanks to the acquisition of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, the improvement of Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, and their always-impressive defense.
They gradually climbed the standings, and when the regular season ended they finished in first place in the Eastern Conference.
Still, they had their doubters, and those doubters questioned if they had the type of offensive firepower they needed to return to the NBA Finals.
Luckily, guard Victor Oladipo returned near the end of the schedule from a serious right quad injury that ended his season last spring.
Of late, he is starting to look like he did not too long ago.
Oladipo Used To Be A Special Player
The 6-foot-4 guard was the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and he was renowned for his speed and quickness.
Defenders had trouble staying in front of him, both in transition and in half-court sets, and he became a very good player for the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Indiana Pacers.
In the 2017-18 season, he made his first of two straight All-Star Games by averaging an efficient 23.1 points and 4.3 assists a game, and his league-leading 2.4 steals per game helped earn him a spot on the All-Defensive first team.
HBD 2 x All-Star @VicOladipo!
In case you forgot:
2018 All-NBA 3rd Team
2018 Most Improved Player
2018 All-Defense 1st Team
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 4, 2022
But disaster struck midway through the 2018-19 campaign when Oladipo ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee.
He was forced to miss the rest of the season and the first half of the following season as well.
But when he returned, he simply wasn’t himself, especially offensively, as he struggled to get above 40 percent shooting from the field.
He Is Looking The Best He’s Looked In A While
Perhaps the Indiana University product isn’t fully back to form, but since the end of the regular season, he has been showing signs that he may be starting to do so.
In his penultimate regular season game, which came against the Toronto Raptors on April 3, Oladipo went 7-of-11 from the field and a scorching hot 6-of-9 from 3-point range, finishing with 21 points, four assists, and two steals in a 114-109 win.
Then, in the Heat’s regular season finale, Oladipo erupted for 40 points on 13-of-22 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds and seven dimes.
He missed the team’s first three postseason games, but he came back to post 23 points and three steals in Miami’s series-clinching 97-94 win in Game 5 of the first round versus the Atlanta Hawks.
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, Oladipo shot 6-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc to score 19 points in nearly 29 minutes.
Defense to Offense
Victor Oladipo on BOTH ENDS of the floor 🔥pic.twitter.com/5BBTcJH4Y1
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCP) May 5, 2022
He has still been up and down, but it appears that he has carved out a real spot in the rotation of Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Miami could very well get past Philly without much trouble, especially if superstar and MVP candidate Joel Embiid is unable to return from an orbital fracture and concussion.
But for the Heat to reach the NBA Finals and compete for the world championship, they will need Oladipo to at least resemble his vintage form.