Injuries continue to follow the Heat this season.
Rodney McGruder is the latest player to go down, as he left Sunday’s win over the Jazz with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the first quarter. The Heat played the rest of the way with just nine healthy and available players, with Goran Dragic (right knee), Tyler Johnson (right hamstring strain), Derrick Jones Jr. (right hamstring strain) and Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery) already out.
But the hope is the Heat will get a few players back for Tuesday’s matchup against the Magic, which marks the end of Miami’s four-game homestand.
Johnson and Jones are probable for the contest after practicing Monday. Johnson has missed six consecutive games, and Jones has missed two consecutive games with their respective injuries.
“I feel good,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I’ve got to work my way back into it and make sure I’m in game shape, but I feel really good. My hamstring hasn’t bothered me at all. My body feels really good.
“It was more of the staff saving me from myself. I try and push through a lot of things that end up lingering a little bit than maybe they should if I would just take another week off or so. They just kind of saved me from myself in that aspect.”
McGruder did not practice Monday and is questionable for Tuesday’s game. An X-ray on his injured ankle returned negative Sunday night, with coach Erik Spoelstra noting that McGruder was already “feeling better.”
The news isn’t as positive with Dragic, though.
Just last week, those around Dragic were optimistic he would be able to return during the Heat’s four-game homestand barring any setback. But it doesn’t look like that will happen, as the starting point guard is expected to miss his seventh consecutive game Tuesday with a swollen right knee.
Dragic, 32, had fluid drained from his right knee two weeks ago, but the procedure has yet to result in a return to game action. He has been practicing with the team for the past week, though.
“He’s just working a little bit more each day,” Spoelstra said of Dragic.
The Heat also remains without guard Dion Waiters, who continues to recover from January surgery on his left ankle.
Defense wins games for Heat
Despite the Heat’s 9-13 start to the season, it still has a top-10 defense.
Miami entered Monday with the league’s 10th-best defensive rating, allowing 106.8 points per 100 possessions. But the Heat’s defense has been especially solid during its current two-game winning streak, as it has allowed just 102.6 points per 100 possessions during this two-game stretch.
“Our activity level the last couple games has been better,” Spoelstra said. “That’s been noticeable all across the board, making those extra efforts. In this league, you can’t be a one or two effort team, and certainly not if you want to build a top-five defense.”
A busy Saturday
Heat team captain and forward Udonis Haslem partnered with Tissot to celebrate the launch of the Quickster Miami Heat Vice Nights watch during a meet-and-greet with fans at the Macy’s in Dadeland Mall in Miami on Saturday.
Fellow Heat forward Justise Winslow was also busy at an event Saturday.
Winslow and his family hosted their third annual D.R.E.A.M Showcase, a holiday-themed talent show for South Florida youth held at the Carnival Studio Theater at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
The event gave children a chance to step on stage in front of an audience and show off their talents, whether it was singing, dancing or anything else.