May 17, 2022
Game 1: Pregame
Q. When did you find out about Al, and based on NBA protocols, was today the first day the team was aware of this situation?
IME UDOKA: I found out about Al about two hours ago, and yes, today was the first day.
Q. Did Al test positive?
IME UDOKA: As always, we don't comment on our status of our guys. He's feeling fine, and we'll go from there, wait to see results and tests and future tests. Like always, I don't comment on our status of our guys.
Q. With Marcus and Al out, who are you starting in their place?
IME UDOKA: Derrick and Grant.
Q. Does this mean you miss Al for the first two games of this series?
IME UDOKA: It's unsure. It's more of a medical question, honestly. But there are different protocols and tests that have to be passed, and we'll know going forward, but it's not a definite that he's out for two games.
Q. Just a thought on not having those two players, but also you guys trying to step up again tonight in this situation.
IME UDOKA: We've unfortunately had quite a bit of practice with this early in the season due to injury and COVID situations, and so just like Game 2 when we won without Marcus and Derrick stepped up, and then the last three games without Robert, other guys have to step up, and we'll do the same with these guys out.
Q. What's the process for Al to get back? Is it similar to early in the season? What have you seen Robert be able to do over the last week or so to ramp up for a return tonight?
IME UDOKA: Regarding Al, it's testing that has to be -- a certain number has to be passed. I don't know if it's specific days, but a specific number of tests have to be passed.
With Rob, he has looked better throughout the last week. He was obviously available for Game 7 on an as-needed basis and we were comfortable with who we had so we didn't go there, but Rob has looked better every day and was able to play in Game 7, so he'll be back with no minute restriction tonight.
Q. Is there any situation given that you had the shootaround and that Al was there, with huddles -- was there any situation with close contact with the rest of your players? Are they in any kind of watch situation?
IME UDOKA: I'm honestly unsure about that as of now.
Q. You've known Erik Spoelstra for a long time. Just from your vantage point, what qualities does he possess that make him such a successful head coach?
IME UDOKA: Well, his story, first of all, his grind, him working his way up through the video room, through the ranks, and obviously learning from one of the best and one of the best organizations. That stands out. A guy, like I said, I grew up watching as a player, so I've known for a long time, and got to know him on a more personal level recently with doing USA Basketball and my first two years going against him in the Finals. Just his grind but also his adaptability I think with the teams he's had, different rosters, always has that success, and it's part of the Heat culture here, no doubt about that, but he's put his own stamp on it, not only from what Pat has done here, he's taken the reins.
That's the one thing that really stands out with him, a guy that has learned on the fly but also keeps you off balance, keeps you guessing and has kind of adapted throughout the years to where he's at now.
Q. Ime, how was the final determination made with Marcus and where is he at in terms of being able to eventually come back?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, the soreness was too much, still some swelling, and limited basketball movements that he couldn't do. It was a possibility that he reacted well to treatment today and got better in these hours, but it wasn't enough. Took a nasty fall, kind of got bent up awkwardly, and the soreness is too much to go. Tried it out, tested it this morning, and we'll see how he feels tomorrow after some more treatment and time off.
Q. Will you have to dig deeper into your bench, maybe Aaron or other guys who haven't played in the Playoffs yet or had spot duty?
IME UDOKA: Yeah, of course. That's an option there. Obviously, Daniel and Grant will log some more minutes, and having Rob back will help as far as Al being out. But if we want to go deeper into the rotation there, Aaron would be a guy to lean on. Looking back, he had one of his best games of the season here early in the year, and just like with Payton and Derrick and other guys going out, we're always confident in the guys that we have ready to step up, and those guys work extremely hard to be ready, and if need be, he'll be leaned on tonight.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports