Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside is out indefinitely with a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury that has sidelined Golden State star Stephen Curry for the past two weeks.
The Heat confirmed the injury on Sunday afternoon but did not announce a timetable, listing him as day to day.
Curry has missed two weeks with the same injury but could return for Monday’s Game 4 against Portland, though that’s far from certain. And Curry’s sprain was diagnosed as a Grade 1, which was the least severe MCL sprain. The Heat did not indicate the grade of Whiteside’s sprain.
If Whiteside missed two weeks, that would extend through at least three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, even if the Heat makes it that far.
But Dallas guard Deron Williams missed only one game with a sprained MCL, and Washington guard John Wall didn’t miss a game with that injury, though he later required surgery.
The Heat trails Toronto, 2-1, in an Eastern Conference semifinal series. Game 4 is 8 p.m. Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
With Whiteside set to become an unrestricted free agent, it’s possible he could have played his last game in a Heat uniform.
Whiteside, who led the league in blocked shots this season, is averaging 12 points, 11 rebounds and 2.8 blocks this postseason.
Whiteside said he had never felt anything like that before in his knee and that his first instinct was that it’s bad. He left the arena wearing a soft cast on the leg, which is standard for this type of situation because it keeps swelling down.
Whiteside said the pain was a seven on a scale of 0 to 10.
The injury happened early in the second quarter of the Heat's 95-91 Game 3 loss to Toronto on Saturday, when Whiteside lost his balance and fell to the floor when jockeying for a rebound early in the second quarter.
Luol Deng and Kyle Lowry each made contact with Whiteside as he fell, with Lowry pulling Whiteside's arm before he crumbled to the floor. It was the same knee that Whiteside strained in Game 1, but he said this is an entirely different injury.
“I was just going for the rebound and I felt someone fall on my knee,” Whiteside said. “I don’t know if it was intentional or by accident. I think Kyle Lowry dove or fell into my knee and pushed it in. I didn't see the play, but that's what happened.... My leg went two different ways.”
Without Whiteside, Spoelstra used all three of his reserve centers: Udonis Haslem (eight points, seven rebounds in 22 minutes), Josh McRoberts (four points, four rebounds in 13 minutes) and Amare Stoudemire (scoreless, no rebounds in four minutes).
Haslem started the second half and Stoudemire didn’t play at all in the second half.
Though he’s a natural power forward, McRoberts said he’s accustomed to playing minutes at center. “I've been playing five for the past couple months sparingly, so it doesn't really change too much,” he said. “We will all be ready. We all stayed ready throughout the season.”
Meanwhile, the Raptors announced that center Jonas Valuncianas will miss the rest of the series with a sprained ankle. Valuncianas had 16 points and 12 boards and left for good with 8:53 left in the third quarter after spraining his right ankle. The Raptors led by 13 at the time.
McRoberts had the defensive play of the game against Valuncianas, blocking his shot underneath the basket.
“Just trying not to get dunked on,” McRoberts said. “Glad I was able to get to it. I've got to do a better job of handling him rolling on the pick and roll and try to figure out how we're going to guard that.”