For the third time in four games, the Miami Heat will be without Goran Dragic on Friday against the Indiana Pacers in Miami.
Dragic, who was a game-time decision for the Heat’s 95-88 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, was declared out following Miami’s shootaround Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Dragic plans to play Saturday against the Washington Wizards, a team spokesperson said.
The guard has been dealing with right knee soreness the past few days and even had an MRI on the knee earlier this week. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday the MRI came back negative and has kept Dragic day to day.
“Goran is feeling better,” Spoelstra said at his pregame news conference Friday. “He’ll be doing treatment tonight.”
Dragic, who has started all eight games he’s played this season, last played Monday against the Detroit Pistons. Dragic played 33 minutes in Detroit, scoring 21 points, handing out six assists and grabbing seven rebounds in the overtime win.
With Dragic out Wednesday, Wayne Ellington made his first start of the season. The wing scored 20 points and went 6 of 10 from three-point range in Dragic’s place. Wing guard Josh Richardson served as the primary ballhandler in the Heat’s starting lineup, a role Dragic usually fills.
Dragic isn’t the only Miami (5-5) contributor dealing with knee pain. Derrick Jones Jr., who played eight minutes Wednesday before bruising his right knee, will suit up against the Pacers on Friday. The team initially ruled out the small forward following shootaround earlier in the day before Spoelstra announced he would play less than two hours before tipoff. Jones went through a brief workout with athletic trainer Jay Sabol, who quickly declared the forward good to go.
“He just had to test his legs. One, to make sure there wasn’t any pain and, two, that he had the proper mobility,” Spoelstra said. “He went upstairs with Jay, and warmed up for about five minutes and did three windmill, 360 dunks. And Jay turned to [assistant coach Chris Quinn] and said, ‘Yeah, he’s ready to go.’”
The Heat also continues to be without forward James Johnson and wing Dion Waiters. Johnson is still recovering from a sports hernia, while Waiters is recovering from left ankle surgery. Neither has played this season.
Dwyane Wade to miss second straight game after birth of child
Miami will also be without another top guard once again Friday, although Dwyane Wade’s absence is for happier reasons.
On Thursday, Wade announced a surrogate mother gave birth to his fourth child and his first with wife Gabrielle Union. Wade also missed Miami’s win against the Spurs on Wednesday as he anticipated the birth of his first daughter.
Wade’s daughter was born Wednesday and he remained away from the team Friday.
“I’m excited for him,” Richardson said after shootaround Friday. “It was his first daughter, so that’ll be fun. I think it’ll be good for Gabby to have another girl in the house.”
Spoelstra isn’t sure yet when Wade will return to the team, although Saturday against the Wizards is unlikely. The 12-time All-Star isn’t on any sort of set paternity leave, so the team is treating it as a day-to-day case.
“It’s day by day,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know about tomorrow, but as much time as he needs.”
Heat excited to debut new Vice look
Hundreds of Heat fans formed a line out the door at the AmericanAirlines team store at midnight Friday as the team put its new black “Vice Nights” merchandise on sale. Fans could begin buying jerseys and apparel at midnight, and even pose for photographs with the special Vice court in the background.
Friday will present an all-new feel inside the Heat’s arena with a Vice Nights-specific intro video, new black City Edition jerseys and a specialized court to go along with the new gear.
“When [president Pat Riley] took over this organization it became about hardest working, best conditioned, most professional,” Spoelstra said at his news conference following shootaround Friday. “You can add hippest on the front line, most fun. He wouldn’t like that stuff, but we’re always on the front edge of cool things. It’s fun for the players. It’s fun for the fans. It creates an excitement.”
The light blue, script Miami on the front of the Vice jerseys is explicitly taken from Miami Arena, where the Heat played from 1988-1999. The special court takes its inspiration from the court inside the old arena, which is especially meaningful to Udonis Haslem.
The post player was born in Miami and went to high school in South Florida. He grew up going to games at the old arena, watching former All-Stars like Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.
“It definitely brings back my childhood. I didn’t have as great of seats as I have now, but I definitely remember the old games, being there and watching Zo and Tim, and guys that came before me,” Haslem said after shootaround Friday. “I remember it like it was yesterday, so it’s definitely a cool experience to have a chance to live out my dream.