Goran Dragic will not play again Monday night, his second consecutive game off and part of the maintenance program coach Erik Spoelstra has the Heat’s starting point guard on after leading Slovenia on a grueling three-week run to the EuroBasket gold medal last month.
“This is all relatively part of the plan I had sketched out,” Spoelstra said about seven hours prior to tip-off against the visiting Charlotte Hornets at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“I wanted him to be in training camp. We had a couple of light days for him [in camp]. But I wanted him to be there. He really wanted to be there, too, just to establish the right tone out of camp. But we want to try to strike that balance of keeping him in shape and make sure he’s peaking for the first game and not going the other way. And I think we’re heading that way.”
Asked if Dragic will play in Miami’s two remaining preseason games Wednesday at home against the Wizards and Friday in Kansas City against the 76ers, Spoelstra was non-committal, adding “We’ll see.”
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The Heat open the regular season in Orlando on Oct. 18. Dragic sat out last Saturday’s game against the Magic after playing in Miami’s first two preseason games and averaging 18.6 minutes, nine points and shooting 47 percent from the field.
Spoelstra reiterated Monday the fatigue he’s worried about with Dragic, 31, is not physical.
“We know what it’s like to put that much emotion into something,” Spoelstra said of Dragic’s gold medal run with the national team that ended Sept. 17. “That’s really where the fatigue is. It’s not the physical fatigue. He’s in unbelievable shape. He could play a playoff game as soon as he came back.
“But when you truly invest emotionally into something and put yourself out there for the pain or the joy or the criticism, all that stuff, that’s something you can’t quantify but it’s there. It’s real. That’s why I loved him going through that experience. He was really passionate about driving that team to a championship. That makes you better when you learn how to win, learn how to really pull a team with you. I saw tremendous growth in him.”