What has already started out as a disappointing season has taken a turn for the worse. The talk coming out of Miami right now is that Udonis Haslem may miss the rest of the season following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his foot. This is a devastating blow to an already thin roster, especially when you consider what Haslem brought to the table. Although not a starter, Haslem is the Heat's leading rebounder notching 8.2 per game in a little over 26 minutes per night. He's also a leader in the locker room having spent his entire 8 year career with Miami, and he brings a toughness that the Heat have otherwise lacked this season. Now, it looks like they're going to have to move forward without him and I'm not sure they're equipped to do that. Here's what the Heat's bench situation now looks like in terms of big men:
Joel Anthony - 1.3 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, signed a big contract in the offseason and was anointed the Heat's starting center when the season began. 14 games in and he's already lost his starting spot to Big Z. He has never had a season where he averaged more than 4 rebounds a game.
Juwan Howard - 0.8 points per game, 2.0 rebounds per game, the 37 year old one-time member of Michigan's Fab Five has seen the court just 5 times logging only 48 minutes this year.
Jamaal Magloire - 1.4 points per game, 2.0 rebounds per game, it's hard to believe that this guy was once an NBA All-Star. Like Howard, he's only appeared in 5 games this year in which he's played a total of 31 minutes.
Dexter Pittman - The 6'11" 22 year old rookie out of Texas has not appeared in a game yet this season.
Erick Dampier - The 6'11" Dampier was just signed by the Heat after spending the previous 6 years in Dallas. He is a solid rebounder, averaging at least 7 per game over the past 7 seasons, but at age 35, he seems a better fit to spell Ilgauskus than replace Haslem.
So that's what Miami is looking at right now. Since Haslem's injury, the Heat have been outrebounded by "powerhouses" Memphis and Indiana 64-44, and I'm not sure Dampier is the piece that is going to solve that puzzle. To make matters worse, they head into Orlando tonight on what is already a two game losing streak where they will face what is likely to be an amped up Magic squad looking to avenge an early season blowout loss in Miami. On top of that, they're going to battle with no Haslem, still no Mike Miller, an injured Dwyane Wade, and ever mounting pressure to be great RIGHT NOW. Don't get me wrong, even without Udonis Haslem, the Heat are still a very talented team. They're likely even still a top seeded playoff team in the East. But there's no doubt, the road for them just got a lot tougher.