Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters is still without a timetable for return after undergoing an MRI on his sprained left ankle this morning, per Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Spoelstra has already ruled Waiters out for the Heat’s upcoming back-to-back that includes stops in Detroit and New York, with Waiters not traveling with the team due to the injury. Instead of traveling, Waiters has stayed in Miami, getting treatment from Heat team officials.
While there is no timetable for return as previously noted above, the Heat are encouraged by the progress Waiters has made in his health since sustaining the sprain in the team’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 17. Waiters had to use crutches at first to help the sprain, but he is now only in a walking boot, per the most recent report on his status.
“He’s getting great work [in Miami],” Spoelstra said at Heat shootaround Tuesday morning ahead of their game versus the Pistons. “At this point, we just want to keep him on track.”
The Heat and guard Goran Dragic have struggled without Waiters in the lineup, posting a 1-3 mark without Dragic’s second ball-handler in the back court. Dragic is averaging 15.6 points per game over his last five games, shooting 35% from the field and 26% from three-point range.
In the absence of Waiters, Josh Richardson has started alongside Dragic at shooting guard for the Heat. While Richardson has shown some flashes of his play from last year, his struggles have overshadowed it. As Dragic has previously noted, it’s tough playing without Waiters because of Waiters’ ability to create for others.
Richardson’s slight inability to create for others ponders the question whether or not Richardson could move into a bench role if his struggles and the Heat’s struggles continue to show. Spoelstra has started Wayne Ellington before at shooting guard with Dragic, and that proved to be an effective lineup due to Ellington’s deadly three-point shooting.
If the Heat want to opt for a better playmaker alongside Dragic in the absence of Waiters, the player they might have to turn to is Tyler Johnson. While Johnson is having a career year in the first year of a four-year, $50 million contract, he hasn’t started a game all year for Miami due to his chemistry and energy he and James Johnson both bring off the Heat’s bench.
Waiters is averaging 15.8 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game this season.
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