Miami Heat

Doubtful injured forward Josh McRoberts can help this season

Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts talks with the media during team practice at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Nov. 11, 2014, in preparation for a regular-season game against the Indiana Pacers.
Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts talks with the media during team practice at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Nov. 11, 2014, in preparation for a regular-season game against the Indiana Pacers. El Nuevo Herald

Though forward Josh McRoberts is traveling with the team on this road trip, the Heat said Sunday it’s not counting on him returning this season but stopped short of ruling it out.

McRoberts, recovering from knee surgery, hasn’t been cleared to do any on-court work.

“I’m not thinking about him playing this year,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s not working with our coaching staff yet.”

Asked about the possibility of McRoberts returning this season, forward Luol Deng said it’s not likely.

“I’m not a doctor, but probably not. He hasn’t hit the floor yet,” Deng said.

McRoberts has been sidelined since Dec. 10 with a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Spoelstra said McRoberts is working with trainers twice a day and traveled on this trip because the Heat needed all of its trainers on the road.

“We’ve had so many injuries, we need our full staff with us. So Josh has to come with us,” Spoelstra said. “I understand how this can be viewed from the outside, him coming on the road trip.

“It really does help a guy’s spirits, being around the team. He’s progressing very well but … will not be working with the basketball coaches, not yet.”

SEEDING BATTLE

The Heat, which was out of playoff seeding altogether nine days ago, suddenly finds itself with a realistic chance to catch Milwaukee for the sixth seed.

If the Heat wins Tuesday at Milwaukee, Miami would close to within one half game of the Bucks for No. 6 in the East.

The Bucks already have clinched the tiebreaker with Miami, by virtue of their 3-0 record in the season series.

What’s the difference between finishing sixth instead of seventh or eighth? The No. 6 seed likely will play Chicago, Toronto or Washington in the first round. The No. 8 seed would play Atlanta and the No. 7 seed probably would play Cleveland, unless the Cavaliers drop down from second in the conference.

Deng, Goran Dragic and Udonis Haslem said they’re not thinking about potential matchups.

“We don’t care who’s on the other side [of the bracket],” Dragic said, noting “we pretty well match up with Cleveland and we played well against Chicago.”

Dwyane Wade said: “The only thing that really matters is that you want to be in the playoffs. … Seeding to me is not that important.”

And Haslem said: “I feel we can beat anybody in a seven-game series.”

Miami has home games against Detroit, San Antonio, Charlotte, Chicago, Toronto and Orlando and road games against the Bucks, Boston, Atlanta (those three on this ongoing road trip), Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana and Philadelphia.

Milwaukee has home games against the Heat, Indiana, Golden State, Chicago, Orlando, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Boston and road games against Atlanta, Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

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