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Heat without Whiteside, Ellington for start of six-game trip

The Heat traveled to Phoenix on Thursday for the start of a six-game trip with a shorthanded roster.

Starting center Hassan Whiteside did not make the trip, as he remained in Miami for the birth of his first child. Guard Wayne Ellington also did not travel due to personal reasons.

While Whiteside and Ellington will miss Friday’s game against the Suns, they are expected to rejoin the team at some point during the trip that has the Heat on the road until Dec. 16. After Phoenix, the Heat heads to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday and the Lakers on Monday before finishing the six-game stretch away from home with contests against the Jazz, Grizzlies and Pelicans.

The good news for the Heat is starting point guard Goran Dragic did travel and he’s listed as probable for Friday’s contest after missing the past eight games with a swollen right knee.

Dragic, 32, had fluid drained from his right knee more than two weeks ago. He practiced for the second consecutive day Thursday.

“He’s doing a lot better. He’s making progress,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after the Heat practiced Thursday evening in Phoenix. “We’re really excited about his last week of work.”

The Heat also remains without guard Dion Waiters, who continues to recover from January surgery on his left ankle. Waiters did not travel with the team Thursday and has yet to travel with the team this season.

Nine Heat players have already combined to miss 75 games due to injury or personal reasons.

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