Dion Waiters’ left ankle isn’t the only problem for the Miami Heat these days.
Add Hassan Whiteside’s left knee to the mix.
The Miami Heat’s $98 million center — fresh off a 26-point, 22-rebound performance in Wednesday’s opening-night loss in Orlando — will miss Saturday’s home opener against the Indiana Pacers with a bone bruise.
Whiteside, 28, knocked knees with Magic center Nikola Vucevic in the third quarter but played through the pain and discomfort in the fourth quarter. He had an MRI on Thursday in Miami that revealed the bruise.
Friday, Whiteside didn’t practice and walked gingerly before and after answering reporters’ questions. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Whiteside is listed as day-to-day.
“I was wearing padding everywhere on my knee, but it hit a spot where I was hit before,” Whiteside said before explaining how he also bumped knees with Hawks forward Taurean Prince in the Heat’s preseason opener Oct. 1.
“I got an MRI on it, so it’s treatment, exercise and hip work to get back. [The doctors] ain’t give me no [time line]. It’s just kind of a day-to-day thing, to get the swelling out and stuff.”
Whiteside said he felt the knee swell up in the fourth quarter Wednesday — when he scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds and nearly willed the Heat to a come-from-behind victory.
“I could feel it in the third quarter, toward the end, toward the fourth quarter, it was really bothering me a lot,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but I’m thankful it’s not nothing worse.
“I’m looking at it like this: guys like my old [Reno Big Horns] teammate Jeremy Lin (who ruptured his patella tendon Wednesday) and what happened with [Celtics swingman] Gordon [Hayward] (who broke his ankle in Tuesday’s opener). I’m looking at other guys and it always can be worse.”
Whiteside hasn’t had issues with his left knee since the 2011 season when he missed the final 37 games of the season with the Sacramento Kings after suffering a partial patellar tendon tear at practice on Jan. 31.
How worried is Whiteside about this tweak to his knee?
“I’m not that worried,” he said. “It’s just the fact that it was hit in the same exact spot. If it was just the first time I got hit in my knee right there, it probably wouldn’t have been as bad. But, you know, I got hit again in it. So we’re going to just try to let it heal and see from there.”
Miami started 7-footer Kelly Olynyk alongside Whiteside in Wednesday’s opener at power forward and could turn to Olynyk to start at center.
James Johnson, Justise Winslow, rookie Bam Adebayo, captain Udonis Haslem, Jordan Mickey, Okaro White and A.J. Hammons are other options in the power rotation. Johnson, Winslow and Adebayo were the only other power rotation players who played in Wednesday’s opener.
White, who missed the opener with a sprained left shoulder, went through a full-contact practice Friday, and the Heat will wait to see how he feels Saturday morning before determining whether he will be available.
Hammons, who has missed time with the flu and was inactive Wednesday, also practiced Friday and will be available to play Saturday, the Heat said.
Point guard Goran Dragic said the Heat can’t make any excuses Saturday being without Whiteside. After all, Pacers starting center Myles Turner, who was diagnosed with a concussion and sore neck Friday, will also miss Saturday’s game against the Heat.
“We got Kelly, Bam, a lot of guys,” Dragic said. “We just need to play our game, correct some things from the last game, especially defensively, and open the home game with a win.”
Whiteside, though, is a big part of the Heat’s defensive scheme. Miami’s defense is built to funnel players to one of the league’s best shot blockers.
“The guys just need to be [higher up] in the pick and roll, that’s the whole key,” Dragic said. “The toughest part is the when the guard gets in the middle, and he has so many options. Now I think our big guys can be up with the screen, from then on we can choose. We can switch or we can peel or do different situations. Of course, we don’t know what is going to be our game plan for tomorrow, but we have many options.”
▪ Waiters, who tweaked his ankle in Wednesday’s game and did not go through a full-contact practice Friday, is probable to play Saturday.
“He’s feeling better,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll do shootaround [in the morning] and get him ready for [Saturday] night. We’ll manage [the ankle] day to day. We’ll continue to get him out there and get him feeling right.”