Add Goran Dragic to the Miami Heat’s growing list of injuries.
Dragic suffered a strained ligament in his left (shooting) elbow during the Heat’s previous game Saturday against the L.A. Clippers forcing him to sit out Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Dion Waiters, who did not participate in the pregame shootaround due to a stomach illness, remained in the starting lineup.
Without Waiters as well, the Heat would have been forced to play with the NBA-minimum eight available.
The Heat went with a starting lineup of Waiters, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo with Wayne Ellington, Jordan Mickey, Udonis Haslem and Derrick Walton, Jr. available off the bench.
“It starts with the mentality of not feeling sorry for yourself and not making excuses,” Spoelstra said. “This is the league and it’s not for the meek. Things happen. Every team goes through some stretch like this if not more during the course of the season but it’s an opportunity for your team to grow. Enough of the guys have been playing and in rhythm. It’s going to take a collective effort more than ever right now. No one guy is going to be able to do it by himself.”
Dragic hurt his elbow while diving for a loose ball late in Saturday’s home win over the Clippers.
"It’s day to day," Spoelstra said. "I don’t know how it will be from here. He went out and tried to warm up, but just wasn’t able to move it. It happened on that play with a minute to go [in the Clippers game] and [Olynyk] hit the deck and tipped it out and then Goran hit the deck after that and he sprained it. It was unfortunate timing, but those things happen. He’ll get a ton of treatment on it tonight and tomorrow and we’ll see how he feels Wednesday."
Dragic finished the game playing through the pain, but said his elbow swelled up on Sunday morning. Dragic, the Heat’s starting point guard who is averaging 16.6 points and 4.4 assists per game, did not participate in shootaround and said he will likely see a doctor to determine the severity of the injury.
“It just happened in last two minutes of the game,” Dragic said. “I’m not sure what exactly happened. I kind of like hit it, hyper-extended it. It was fine after the game, but the next day it swelled up. We’re going to go see a doctor and see.”
Justise Winslow (strained knee) is progressing, but missed his third consecutive game.
Four more players — Hassan Whiteside (knee bone bruise), James Johnson (right ankle bursitis), Rodney McGruder (leg stress fracture) and Okaro White (foot) — are not with the team.
“Better get them shots up,” guard Tyler Johnson said. “No excuses. Coach isn’t going to give us any. That’s the first thing he said when he talked to us today. Atlanta is a hard-playing team, but all we got to do is hold down the fort one game with no excuses and play our hardest.”
Olynyk and Adebayo have shared court time in recent games and Mickey has been effective off the bench, scoring 17 points over the past two games.
"I can throw him in there and expect him to do his job," Spoelstra said. "That’s what it’s all about. Prepare yourself for opportunities to help the team. You can’t guarantee when you’re going to play. But every single year everybody is called on to produce. That speaks to his professionalism, his character, and his intelligence behind the scenes when no one is watching. He’s put in a lot of time and when his number is called he’s ready."
Haslem has appeared in only three games so far this season and Walton, Jr., who was recently recalled from Sioux Falls, has played in four games.
Whiteside, who did not make the trip, will miss his 10th consecutive game and 15th overall.
The Heat also could call in help from Sioux Falls if they bring up guard Matt Williams, Jr. for its next game.
The Heat announced Sunday that James Johnson will be out at least 7-10 days.
"JJ is such a big, integral part of our team and we’re not taking away from that," Spoelstra said. "But he’s not here and it’s about those guys in the locker room. We have enough to get the job done. Different guys will have to step up in terms of energy, effort and voice because he brings those things consistently leadership, voice and keeping guys connected."