Goran Dragic said his strained left elbow felt a little bit better on Tuesday and he’s going to receive all the treatment he can over the next 24 hours with the hopes of getting back on the court Wednesday to help the shorthanded Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics.
“The swelling went down a little bit, but still the pain is there,” the Heat’s starting point guard said Tuesday after practice. “So we’ve still got a night to try to do treatment as much as possible. We’ll go from there [Wednesday].”
Dragic, 31, missed his first game of the season on Monday and the Heat dressed only nine healthy players in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks, who own the worst record in the league. Miami turned it over 19 times.
Dragic said he’s been wearing a compression sleeve and doing ultrasound and laser treatments. He categorized the pain on a scale from 1 to 10 as “a 5 or a 6.”
“It’s not stiffening or loosening, it’s just the pain is always there,” he said. “When you rotate the elbow on the outside, that’s what really bothers me.
“I mean I feel like I can fight through a lot of injuries. But this injury is kind of a specific one because there’s so many aspects of the game that you need to do, especially when you’re passing the ball, when you’re shooting. You’re never in that comfort zone. But like I said, we’re going to see tomorrow.”
▪ Did anything stand out from Monday’s game tape?
“Certainly the way we’ve been defending recently, we didn’t bring that kind of game last night,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We paid for it. It’s a learning lesson. A very winnable game on the road, regardless of how many guys we had.
“It’s not necessarily even what we did that night. It’s more about us and committing to the things that are important to our success. And it sounds very obvious, but when we get away from that, we’ve paid the price, losing games. So, for us, we have to be able to defend at a high level, keep teams under 100 points. We have to play efficient offense, where it’s a collective effort, not necessarily one guy scoring 30 or 40. The last part of that efficiency, is we have to take care of the basketball. When we have high numbers of turnover, it makes it very tough for us to overcome that inefficiency to find a way to win.”
▪ The Heat fell to 0-12 when trailing after three quarters. Last season, Miami was 8-35 in those games.
“So let’s not get behind,” Spoelstra said with a hint of laughter. “We have a couple, if not more, personalities to our team. When we’re really locked in and engaged from the beginning, setting the tone, we’ve shown that we’ve been able to carry that out through the course of the game. When we’ve come out sluggish or not played inspired basketball in the first half, we’ve had a tough time overcoming that.”
▪ To help with the number of injuries, the Heat on Tuesday called up guard Matt Williams Jr. from its G-League affiliate the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Williams is on a two-way contract.
“It’s good to have extra bodies,” Spoelstra said. “Obviously we needed Derrick last night. Matt, our view on him is this year’s about development. So it’s developing as a professional, being reliable, learning how to be a two-way player. Not a two-way contract, but a two-way player, to defend and learn how to maximize his shooting ability in the context of a team.”
Williams Jr. has appeared in 16 games (all starts) with Sioux Falls this season averaging 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 30.3 minutes while shooting 33.8 percent from the field, 33.9 percent from three-point range and 85.7 percent from the foul line. His 41 three-point field goals this season are the second most on the team.
“My mindset is whether I play or whether I not, just to go in and make sure I encourage the guys and make sure when my name is called be ready to produce,” Williams Jr. said.