The symmetry between Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin and twin brother Cody Martin of the Charlotte Hornets has always been stark. Same high school, same collegiate start at North Carolina State, same collegiate finish at Nevada, same NBA start with the Hornets, with each signing a three-year free-agent contract in July.
And now, brothers in pain, Caleb pushing through a strained left quadriceps that has yet to fully subside after sidelining him for seven games, Cody missing his seventh consecutive game due to knee soreness when the Hornets met the Heat on Sunday at Spectrum Center.
In that regard, being partners in pain has added another element to their common journey.
“Chances are when one of us is dealing with something, the other one’s already dealt with it,” Caleb said ahead of Sunday’s game, the start of a Heat four-game trip. “I felt like he does a great job of giving me advice on certain things because he’s been through it and vice versa.
“He definitely is an outlet I use very often when I’m messed up mentally.”
And Caleb, despite returning to the Heat starting lineup two weeks ago, still is struggling with a body that is not yet always willing, which complicates a game built on athleticism and explosiveness.
“It’s tough,” Caleb said. “It’s challenging mentally. You hang heavy on that part of your game, especially for my role. So it’s a battle mentally a lot of time. And sometimes it bleeds into my play in terms of staying confident.
“But sometimes you just have to muster up that mentally and just kind of get past that. Everyone kind of goes through their own version of that. It’s not really an excuse. So I just got to try to come in and do what I can and what my body allows me to do.”
While there remain many moments when the Heat’s $20.4 million offseason investment comes off as money well spent, such moments recently have come in bursts, rather than the sustained play that earned the promotion to the starting lineup this season, with the quad weighing on him mentally and physically.
“Definitely both,” Caleb said. “I feel like just mobility-wise, it’s tough getting that extra push around guys, getting that first quick step in, to not even worry about the guy who closes out, getting stuck on bodies sometimes a little bit more than I’m used to. And so just trying to adjust to being a tad bit slower and stiff right now.
“I feel like the last week and half, hopefully I just keep trending in that direction. And I’m going to keep working with the medical staff and I’ll just keep giving what I got.”
Noticeably different in Martin’s approach is a hesitancy to launch 3-pointers, even though at .372 he led the Heat in 3-point percentage going into Sunday.
“Like I said, just a part of a mental battle of just staying confident and just shooting shots that are open,” he said. “Because that’s what Coach preaches all the time, whenever you pass open shots like that, they tend to lead to bad shots. So I just got to continue to fight through that and shoot myself out of the slump.”