The Miami Heat were steamrolled by the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and the sting of the loss was amplified by a trio of injuries. All-Star forward Jimmy Butler suffered a left ankle sprain late in the first half but was able to remain in the game. Emerging superstar Bam Adebayo went back to the locker room after injuring his left shoulder, suffering what was ultimately diagnosed as a strain.
However, the biggest blow of the night was dealt to veteran guard Goran Dragic who suffered a left foot injury after stepping on the foot of Laker guard Rajon Rondo. Dragic was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia and his availability for the remainder of the series is in doubt.
Located on the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia is a dense band of connective tissue that runs from heel to toe and supports and stabilizes the arch of the foot. The layout and design of the plantar fascia allows it to absorb and disperse the increased forces placed on the foot while performing weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and jumping.
If the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it is medically known as plantar fasciitis, a condition that has effected numerous NBA players, including Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, and Damian Lillard. Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis was unable to take part in bubble play after developing his own case of plantar fasciitis.
However, the plantar fascia is vulnerable to other injuries as well. If enough force is applied to the tissue it can partially tear or rupture, compromising the stability of the foot. Former Charlotte big man Al Jefferson suffered a partially torn plantar fascia in the 2014 postseason, an injury previously detailed here on InStreetClothes.com.
The severity of the tear often dictates the amount of time missed, though previous NBA cases present a discouraging precedent for Dragic. Since 2005-06, the average missed time for in-season plantar fascia tears in the NBA is roughly 13 games, including a 21-game, 54-day absence for guard Malcolm Brogdon during the 2018-19 season.
It is possible to play on partially torn plantar fascia but the injury is often very painful and limiting. Modifications to the athlete’s shoes can be made to help with the associated symptoms but are by no means a cure. Time remains the best course of treatment, especially for a complete tear or rupture.
Look for Dragic to undergo additional testing over the next 24 hours but it appears the Heat’s title aspirations have been dealt a crippling blow.