Miami Heat fans crossing their fingers in hopes of seeing a Dion Waiters return tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers can probably stop doing so.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said after shootaround Monday morning the Heat’s starting shooting guard – along with injured forwards Luke Babbitt and Josh McRoberts – remain questionable to face the defending world champions in what amounts to a must-win game for Miami, which remains on the outside looking in for a playoff berth.
“I think everybody is questionable right now that didn’t play in Washington,” Spoelstra said. “Guys are on the court right now getting some work in. We’ll see if that changes.”
The Heat (39-41) has been without Waiters (sprained left ankle) for its last 11 games, but upgraded the 25-year-old guard along with Babbitt and McRoberts from out to questionable on its injury report Sunday. Babbitt has missed the Heat’s last three games with a strained right hip flexor. McRoberts (left foot stress fracture) last played on Dec. 23.
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While Spoelstra said he would consider playing all three players if necessary, he also said he didn’t expect any of them to suit up and face the Cavs.
“If anybody were able to play – any of those three guys – it would only be on a plug basis,” Spoelstra said. “But I’m not counting on that.”
▪ Center Hassan Whiteside no longer has his right hand heavily bandaged Monday and said he’s hoping to have his stitches removed before the Heat hosts Cleveland.
“I’m going to see if I can take them off today,” he said. “That would be awesome if I can.”
Whiteside needed 13 stitches back on March 21 to close a gash between his ring finger and middle finger, which he sliced open late in a win over the Phoenix Suns.
Since the injury Whiteside has averaged 16.8 points, 13 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and shot 53 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free throw line over his last nine games.
That’s the same numbers he’s averaged for the season scoring and blocking shots and only one fewer rebound per game. The shooting percentage is just below his season aveage of 55.6 percent, but the free throw percentage is better than Whiteside’s season average (62.9 percent).