The Heat apparently will limp into the All-Star break in the same predicament it played much of the first half of the season: without a full allotment of starters.
“What’s new?” Chris Bosh said Sunday, as the Heat prepares to wrap up its break before the All-Star game Monday against the Knicks and Wednesday at Cleveland. “We’re going to be short-handed, at least for now.”
Guard Dwyane Wade, who has missed five games in a row with a hamstring injury and 15 overall this season, participated in all noncontact drills but none of the contact portion of practice Sunday. Wade did not comment afterward, but forward Luol Deng said he doubts Wade will play Monday.
“It made my day he was out here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’m not thinking about [Monday]. I’m not even thinking about Wednesday in Cleveland.”
Meanwhile, center Hassan Whiteside, who has missed one game with a sprained ankle, did not participate in practice Sunday and said he still feels some pain — “four” on a scale of 1 to 10. That would suggest he’s unlikely to play Monday, though Whiteside wouldn’t rule it out.
Forward Shawne Williams — whose 60 three-point baskets lead the team — was limited in practice with a hip injury. At least Udonis Haslem should be available Monday after sustaining a wrist injury Friday in San Antonio.
Haslem said he will play through the injury, which was diagnosed as a bone bruise and sprain. “It’s uncomfortable; it’s going to be sore,” he said. But “when my minutes come, I’ll be ready next game. With Hassan’s injury, my number is going to be called.”
Through 50 games, the Heat finds itself in the unexpected position of battling merely to make the playoffs. Miami enters Monday tied with Brooklyn for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, with the Heat holding the tiebreaker.
Both teams are 21-29, 11/2 games ahead of No. 10 Detroit (20-31). All three teams trail No.7 Charlotte, which was 22-28 entering Sunday night’s game against Indiana.
Though it didn’t have the feel of a Joe Namath Super Bowl prediction, Haslem said Sunday: “We’re definitely going to make the playoffs. If we can get healthy and get ourselves together consistently on the floor… in a seven-game series, we have the opportunity to beat anybody in the East. We’re very confident that we’re going to make the playoffs.”
Bosh, who spent his first seven seasons usually battling to make the playoffs as a member of the Toronto Raptors, said “it’s weird being on the fence” but in some ways it’s “more familiar than anything else. I’ve been competing for seventh and eighth longer than I was competing for championships. …
“[This predicament] should give us plenty of motivation. Our attitude has to be more focused going into every game from here on out.”
Bosh said he recently began monitoring scores of other contenders for the eighth seed but, “I try not to do it right now. I did it earlier, but I didn’t like where we were.”
Said Deng: “We still believe we’ll get in the playoffs. We’re not looking at it as the eighth seed yet. There are still opportunities to be a different seed.”
On Sunday, Spoelstra said he told his players he needs three things from them: “One: Don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Two: Don’t make excuses. Three: We have to continue to commit to work on our game. All three things happened today.
“Nobody came in sulking. Nobody is making excuses. That’s what this league is. This is for men only. We are getting better at things. We’re not getting over the hump yet. But we will. I can assure you of that.”
With his second 10-day contract expiring, the Heat signed guard Tyler Johnson for the remainder of the season. The contract is guaranteed for the rest of the season; teams cannot sign players to more than two 10-day contracts.
Johnson’s new contract has a second non-guaranteed season that becomes partially guaranteed before the start of the 2015-16 regular season, Johnson said.
Johnson has played well, averaging 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.2 assists and shooting 50 percent in six games (16 for 32).
“He’s showing improvement as a combo guard,” Spoelstra said. “Very tough, very competitive. We think he’s a promising young guard prospect that we can develop.”