Miami Heat

James Johnson is working hard to return for season opener. Here’s an update on his progress

Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra talks about James Johnson and the hernia surgery

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra talks about James Johnson's progress after his sports hernia surgery during media day at the American Airlines Arena on September 24, 2018.
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Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra talks about James Johnson's progress after his sports hernia surgery during media day at the American Airlines Arena on September 24, 2018.

After shootarounds and practices, you can find James Johnson sweating on the court.

Johnson, who had surgery to repair a sports hernia in May, is working hard to be available for the Miami Heat’s Oct. 17 regular-season opener against the Orlando Magic. That’s the goal, but he still hasn’t ruled out playing in at least one preseason game this week.

“I’m just going day-by-day trying to get it stronger,” said Johnson, who has missed the first three preseason games and has already been ruled out for Monday’s home contest against the Magic. “When [athletic trainer Jay Sabol] and the rest of the training staff says I can play, then I’m going to give it a try.”

Johnson traveled with the Heat for its three-game preseason-opening trip as he continued to work on conditioning and non-contact drills. But there was a sign of real progress Sunday, with Johnson going through 1-on-1 drills against teammates following practice.

Johnson admitted he did “a little bit more than normal” Sunday, but added that he’s yet to participate in 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 scrimmages.

“It’s feeling improved,” Johnson said of the pain. “Big improvement. It’s feeling stronger. But like I said, the more I run and things like that, I can feel it fatiguing faster than normal. So I’m just trying to wake up those muscles that have been sitting all offseason.”

Richardson close to return

Josh Richardson is on track to make his preseason debut in Monday’s game against the Magic.

Richardson, who has missed the first three preseason games with a left thigh contusion, in not on the Heat’s injury report for Monday’s contest. He was also a full participant in Sunday’s practice.

“I feel like I’m definitely a lot more explosive than I was last week,” Richardson said Sunday. “I’m doing drills after practice like dunking and stuff, making sure everything is OK. So I’m feeling a lot better.”

While it seems the Heat will get Richardson back Monday, the team is still dealing with a long list of injuries. Wayne Ellington (left ankle soreness), Derrick Jones Jr. (bruised right shoulder), Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery) and Johnson have been ruled out for Miami’s game against Orlando, and Bam Adebayo (right AC joint sprain) is doubtful.

But Tyler Johnson is expected to play Monday after missing Friday’s loss to the Wizards with a migraine. Jones and Adebayo went through non-contact work Sunday.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” coach Erik Spoelstra said regarding the Heat’s health.

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