The swelling is gone, but the pain and discomfort are not.
For Dion Waiters, no matter how badly he wants to get back on the court, his inability to move the way he used to on his sprained left ankle – with explosion and precision – is ultimately why he remains out at such a critical juncture for the Miami Heat.
The 25-year-old shooting guard and Miami’s third leading scorer tried to convince coach Erik Spoelstra and team trainers before Monday’s game against the Cavaliers to allow him to put on a uniform and make himself available to play just in case. Alas, his effort was denied on the basis he’s simply not ready to play yet.
“It didn't go too well,” Waiters said of his pregame talk with Spoelstra. “It was both ways honestly.”
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Although Waiters says he began taking jump shots over the weekend, he still hasn’t begun “cutting” on his ankle and until he does that he knows it’s smarter to stay off the court. He said he still experiences discomfort with every step he takes.
“I'm going to go work out right now and feel it out, different movements,” Waiters said about an hour before Monday’s tip-off. “I know it's going to be sore. It’s not going to be healed until I’m able to rest completely. But right now I’m just trying to figure out ways [to play]. We’re doing different tape jobs. We're preparing it, doing everything possible man. Like I said, it’s just one of them situations where the ankle – you have to put all your weight on it and the way I play I want to be myself out there. I don't want to be like a liability. It’s just about trying to figure out and manage the pain and go from there.
“Like I said, it's not going to be completely healed until I can just completely rest. It was a real bad [sprain].”
“It's just cutting,” Waiters continued. “That's the biggest thing for me because I don’t want to favor it and put pressure on other parts of my body and something else goes wrong. I've just got to keep working through it and hopefully I wake up one day and that [expletive] is gone.”
Counting Monday’s game, Waiters has now missed 12 games in a row because of his badly sprained ankle dating back to when it happened just before halftime in a 123-105 win over Minnesota on March 17.
With the Heat still on the outside looking in on a playoff berth, Waiters said his hope now is simply to make it back in time for the postseason should Miami qualify. Asked if he thinks he’ll be back in time for the playoffs, which begin this coming weekend, Waiters replied: “Hell yeah – even if I have to play on one foot.”
“You know that’s why I've been here the last two weeks, two times a day, six to eight hours of treatment, doing everything in my power,” he continued. “Even when I'm home I still treat it. I’m doing everything in my power just to get back. It’s just annoying as hell. The position that I'm in, the timing of the injury, I think it was just bad timing. That’s why I’m frustrated.”
Could he be available this coming weekend for the start of the playoffs?
“I would play through it,” Waiters responded. “I would have to. I’m going to feel it. It’s definitely uncomfortable. I just want to get the swelling out. It went down crazy. It was fat as hell. But it went down. But it’s still going to be in there. It’s one of those things that take time. I’m doing everything in my power to get out there. But you've also got to be smart as far as how I play, cutting, getting to the basket. I at least have to be able to do some of those things to make this team play the way we play and go.”