The Miami Heat was ready to move on from the Markieff Morris-Nikola Jokic incident just days after it happened nearly three weeks ago. With a rematch against the Denver Nuggets set for Monday at FTX Arena, nothing has changed.
“It’s over with, man. It’s over with,” Heat team captain Udonis Haslem said to the Miami Herald ahead of Monday’s home game against the Nuggets (7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Sun and NBA TV). “Nobody got time for that. Life is too short. It’s over with. It happened. In the heat of the moment, everybody reacted. OK, let’s move on. It’s over with. It is so far over with. I don’t have time for that. You’re talking to somebody who has seen everything but the wind. I’ve seen it all. That’s over with.”
Monday marks the first meeting between the Heat (13-7) and Nuggets (9-10) since Jokic shoved Morris to the court from behind in retaliation to a hard foul on Nov. 8 in Denver. Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP, also led the Nuggets to a 113-96 win over the Heat in that game.
The NBA suspended Jokic for one game without pay for the shove and Morris was fined $50,000 for committing a Flagrant Foul 2 on Jokic that led to the on-court altercation. In addition, Heat star Jimmy Butler received a $30,000 fine for attempting to escalate the incident, with Heat players gathering after the game in the hallway leading to the Nuggets’ locker room.
But there’s a real chance that both Jokic and Morris could miss Monday’s game. Jokic has missed Denver’s last four games because of a sprained right wrist and is listed as questionable for Monday’s game.
Morris has missed Miami’s last 10 games and has not played since Jokic’s shove because of whiplash stemming from the incident. He has been ruled out for Monday’s game.
“It is disappointing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said last week of Morris missing a chunk of games because of the push. “A very dangerous play and it’s really unfortunate. That’s the byproduct of those kind of dangerous actions. But he is feeling better and we’ll just continue to take it one day at a time.”
Jokic’s brothers could be at FTX Arena, though, with multiple reports speculating that Strahinja and Nemanja Jokic purchased tickets to attend Monday’s game between the Heat and Nuggets. Strahinja and Nemanja created a Twitter account shortly after the incident and wrote to Morris’ twin brother Marcus Morris: “You should leave this the way it is instead of publicly threatening our brother! Your brother made a dirty play first. If you want to make a step further be sure we will be waiting for you !! Jokic Brothers”
Nemanja, who is 6-foot-6 and played basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy, has won low-level MMA fights in recent years.
“I have nothing to do with that, man. We’re going to play a basketball game,” Haslem said. “That’s over with. I don’t have nothing to do with that. I keep hearing about the Jokic brothers buying tickets to come to the game. They better stay in line and don’t come down there and start trouble. Miami is my city. It’s my city.”
Haslem then made clear that he respects Jokic. Haslem said earlier this month that “I actually love him as a basketball player and I love him as a person. I think he’s a really good guy. I think emotions just got the best of everybody.”
“What the hell you buying tickets for? To come do what?” Haslem continued. “That’s my city. Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing. Come enjoy the game and take your [butts] home. Ain’t nobody messing with your brother. We come to play basketball.”
As for the actual basketball game, it’s a matchup between two teams headed in two different directions at the moment. The Nuggets are dealing with injuries to multiple key players and have dropped six straight, and the Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls 107-104 on Saturday night at the United Center for their sixth win in the last eight games.
“We want to play basketball,” Haslem again emphasized.
BUTLER, HERRO IN DOUBT
Jimmy Butler (tail bone contusion) and Tyler Herro (overall body soreness) are questionable for Monday’s game. Herro missed Saturday’s win in Chicago for that reason.
The NBA fined Heat center Dewayne Dedmon $15,000 for kicking a seat cushion from his team’s bench into the stands during Saturday’s game.
VINCENT’S BIG FOURTH QUARTER
Heat guard Gabe Vincent continued the best sustained stretch of his NBA career in Saturday’s win over the Bulls.
Vincent scored 16 of his season-high 20 points off the bench in the fourth quarter with the help of 4-of-6 shooting from deep in the period. He became just the 16th player in Heat history to record 16 or more points in the fourth quarter of a regular-season game.
“Gabe was really good, got going in that second half,” Spoelstra said.
Vincent, 25, has finished with double-digit points in four of his last five appearances. He has shot 14 of 31 (45.2 percent) from three-point range during this stretch.
Vincent shot just 30.9 percent on threes last season.
“It feels great. Obviously, whenever you shoot the ball, you want it to go in,” Vincent said. “It’s way more enjoyable when that’s happening, way more enjoyable when you’re helping your team win in that way. So I’m just trying to continue to stay aggressive.”