The Heat weren’t as shorthanded as they feared they could have been Wednesday night when the San Antonio Spurs came to town.
Dion Waiters participated in the Heat’s pregame shootaround and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra announced hours later he’d start against the Spurs in Wednesday night’s game.
Waiters, who tweaked his previously injured left ankle a week ago in the Heat’s season-opener, has been dealing with general soreness since and it kept him out of Tuesday’s practice.
"It’s one of those things right now it is what it is," Waiters said after the team’s pregame shootaround on Wednesday afternoon. "I don’t want to keep talking about the same thing. I understand it’s going to keep coming up. Hopefully we just continue to just keep working on it and get better day by day."
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Waiters said he did not tweak his ankle again in Monday’s win over the Hawks, but that for the time being it’s going to be a matter of consistent treatment and managing it.
Waiters is averaging 14.7 points and 2.3 assists through the first three games of the season. Waiters played 23 minutes against the Hawks on Monday and finished with 10 points, two rebounds and one assist.
That may include sitting out a practice from time to time to rest the ankle in the hopes it will heal over time.
Waiters elected not to have surgery in the offseason, which potentially could have sidelined him for eight to 10 months. He broke the same ankle in high school. Waiters signed a four-year, $52 million contract in July.
"If that’s what I have to do to play that’s what we’re going to have to do," Waiters said. "Until then, I’m just locked in on tonight and coming in here with the mindset of playing, go through my routine and see how it feels."
Goran Dragic (bruised right thigh) also went through shootaround and was also in the starting lineup. Dragic is second on the Heat in scoring so far with 19.7 points per game.
"We feel like [Dion]’s going to play tonight," Dragic said. "I had a lot of ankle problems in the past. Only thing you can do is take care of yourself. Get there early and do a lot of treatments so you can better. Dion is doing that right now so we’re hoping his ankle will be better."
Center Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) sat out for the third consecutive game. Rookie Bam Adebayo was set to make his first career start.
The Spurs were also short-handed with Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy), Tony Parker (left quadriceps tendon surgery) and Joffrey Lauvergne (sprained right ankle) also out for Wednesday’s game.
FREE THROW WOES
The Heat ranked last in the NBA a season ago in free throw shooting percentage (70.6 percent).
Through their first three games the percentage has actually dropped to 67.3 percent, which ranks 29th of 30 only ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Spoelstra expects the numbers to improve if the Heat can find its way to the foul line more often than it has.
"We just have to continue to stay with it," Spoelstra said. "We’re top of the league in layup attempts, paint attacks, paint opportunities all these things that would suggest more free throw attempts. It hasn’t turned out that way for us early in the season but stay with it and hopefully that number turns. If our guys get enough opportunities at the free throw line I think that number will go up as well."