As soon as the Miami Heat gets one key contributor back, the roster takes another hit.
Shortly after Dwyane Wade addressed the media ahead of his return from a seven-game absence, the Heat announced Tyler Johnson would not play Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets after he injured his right hamstring in practice Monday.
“This morning he graded it a four out of five — 5 being great — but he didn’t feel comfortable going tonight,” coach Erik Spoelstra said at his news conference Saturday before Miami took on the Nets. “He’ll just get treatment and we’ll evaluate him every day.”
Johnson is the latest Miami player to join a long list of injuries and absences this season. The Heat (6-10) was already slated to play Tuesday without guards Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. Wade, guard Wayne Ellington and forwards James Johnson and Justise Wiinslow have also missed multiple games this season.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Tyler Johnson’s absence is particularly troublesome as it comes in conjunction with a setback for Dragic, who will miss at least three more games after having his right knee drained Monday. As Dragic has now missed four of the past nine games entering the Nets game, Johnson and wing Josh Richardson have handled the majority of minutes at point guard. Richardson now faces an even bigger burden.
“It’s going to be tough without him,” Richardson said at practice Monday when asked about Dragic’s absence. “He’s a big part of our team, but the next man up’s going to have to pick up the slack and hopefully we’ll get him back as soon as possible.”
Wade’s return does give Miami another option at point guard and the Heat has let Winslow serve as the primary ballhandler at times when short on guards.
Johnson has actually been a bit of a bright spot during Miami’s ongoing swoon. Buoyed by a 24-point performance against Brooklyn (7-10) on Wednesday, Johnson is averaging 15 points in the Heat’s past six games. For the season, the guard is averaging 11.1 points, 2.4 assists and 1.1 turnovers. He has played every game entering Tuesday and is shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range.
▪ James Johnson still won’t be on a formal minutes restriction Tuesday, but coach Erik Spoelstra said the forward still won’t have his full workload. Wade is in a similar boat.
▪ With Johnson’s return Sunday, Waiters is now the only Miami player yet to suit up this season. Spoelstra said Monday he’s making progress.