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One year ago, Victor Oladipo was at his lowest point. He had ruptured his right quad tendon for a second time in two years, would have to go through the strenuous rehab once again and miss out on a huge payday in free agency that he had been thinking about for years.

Oladipo, who turns 30 next week, was expecting to sign a long-term contract for more than $100 million last offseason. Then the injury happened.

The Miami Heat, who acquired him in a mid-season deal in 2021 after the Houston Rockets first got him from the Pacers, signed him to a one-year minimum deal worth $2.4 million last offseason. Essentially, it was a prove it type of deal that would allow for him to remain Miami, where he wanted to be, and see if he could recover from this crushing injury.

Again.

Fast-forward to Tuesday night, when after not playing in the first three playoff games (Coach's Decision), Oladipo was needed with starters Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler sidelined with injuries.

Oladipo started, played 36 minutes, made 8 of his 16 field goal attempts and scored a team-high 23 points. Miami's 97-94 win propelled them past Atlanta for a 4-1 series win. They advanced to play the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 2.

"I remember a year ago today, around this time last year, I was sitting in a dark room by myself and just broke down," he said afterward. "Not because I quit, but because I was at the lowest point I could be at. Now God has put me in this position today so I just made the most of it.

"I can't really explain why I'm going through what I went through. I can't really explain why I'm here today, but I'm staying in the moment and making every moment mean something."

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When the final buzzer sounded, the two-time All-Star raced down to one baseline and celebrated with a huge, emotional fist pump in the air.

Not only was he back, but the Heat had won and he would now be playing in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career. Miami is his fifth stop since being drafted second overall by Orlando in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Miami is where he wants to be, it's where he wants to play. On his birthday one year ago, he bought a Miami home for $7.75 million.

Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent once again in July.

The second-round series between the Heat and 76ers begins Monday night in Miami (7:30 p.m. ET).


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