Goran Dragic is slowly building up the hunger again.
The same hunger to dominate in big, high-pressure games Dragic felt last month when he helped Slovenia win the Eurobasket championship.
Situations as intense won’t come about until next week at the earliest with the Heat opening the regular season next Wednesday in Orlando.
In the meantime, Dragic took another mental and physical break on Tuesday as he continued his preseason maintenance program.
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"It's just trying to be fresh for the season," Dragic said. "That’s the main thing. Try to be hungry for those games. And we decided not to play those last two games. You know, it helps me a little bit to recover, to get back to being that hungry guy again."
Dragic sat out practice a day after he did the same for the second consecutive preseason game on Monday.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did not specify if or how much Dragic would play in the team’s final two preseason games Wednesday at home against the Washington Wizards and Friday in Kansas City against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"We’ll see," Spoelstra said. "Every day is different. Some days he’s gone extremely hard, some days he’s gone light. Is there a perfect book on how to manage this? I don’t know. We’ll manage him every day.
"We want him ready and feeling great for Day 1."
Dragic, the Heat’s leader in scoring, assists and steals last season, doesn’t believe the time off will be a detriment once he gets back on the court on a consistent basis due to his familiarity with the team’s system and personnel.
"I already know where each individual wants the ball or how to get the ball," Dragic said. "With Dion [Waiters] we have great chemistry, so I think so that helps a lot.
"That first game, you're always competitive, you're starting the season, so you're always looking forward to that game. I'm in good shape, practicing, running, so I don't see no problem that."
Justise Winslow scored the final four points of the game that proved to be the decisive ones in Monday’s victory over the Hornets.
With 4:51 left in the fourth quarter and the Heat leading 100-99, Winslow was the only regular rotation player left on the court when Spoelstra emptied his bench.
Although the clutch moment came in a game that doesn’t count, it was a confidence builder for Winslow, who had his 2016-17 season cut short due to right shoulder surgery.
"The one thing you can’t understate is he hasn’t played much 5-on-5 basketball in several months," Spoelstra said. "So he’ll continue to get better. That probably helps with his confidence. But he’s been working very diligently, trying to find a way how he can impact and help the team. It was good to give him those extra minutes, especially in a real competitive game like that."
Center A.J. Hammons practiced for the first time in over a week after dealing with the flu. Hammons, who came to the Heat in the Josh McRoberts trade with Dallas in July, has a guaranteed contract and figures to have a spot on the active roster to open the season.
"Any time you take anything more than a day and half or two days off, it’s going to hurt you so it’s good to get back in here," Hammons said.