The Heat will play without Goran Dragic for the fifth consecutive game Tuesday, but there’s hope around the organization the starting point guard will return from his injury sooner rather than later.
The thinking right now is Dragic’s right knee injury is a short-term issue barring any setbacks, according to league sources. Those around Dragic are optimistic he will be able to return during the Heat’s four-game homestand beginning Tuesday against the Hawks and ends next Tuesday against the Magic.
An MRI on Dragic’s injured knee returned negative, and the goal for the past week has been to get the swelling down. The 32-year-old had fluid drained from his right knee last Monday, and he did not travel for the team’s recent two-game trip.
Pain isn’t the issue for Dragic. It’s stiffness and swelling in the knee that has kept him off the court.
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“There isn’t a definitive update,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday when asked about Dragic and Tyler Johnson, who missed his fourth consecutive game Tuesday with a right hamstring strain. “They’re both getting better, they’re both feeling better, they’re both doing a little bit more. We’ll continue taking it day by day.”
Tuesday marks the eighth game Dragic has missed this season — one because of a right foot injury and seven because of a right knee injury. The Heat has posted a 2-5 record in those games this season.
Finding efficient offense continues to be an issue for the Heat without Dragic.
Entering Tuesday, Miami has scored 108.4 points per 100 possessions with Dragic playing and 101.3 points per 100 possessions without him this season. Also, the Heat has outscored opponents by 23 points with Dragic on the court and has been outscored by 59 points when he’s not on the court.
▪ Heat forward James Johnson missed Tuesday morning’s shootaround due to personal reasons, but he’s expected to play against the Hawks. Also, the Heat remains without Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery)
It’s not a surprise the Heat’s drive-and-kick offense has it averaging the most drives to the basket this season at 52.8 per game entering Tuesday. But Miami isn’t converting them at a high enough rate, as it’s shooting a league-worst 40.9 percent on its penetration attempts.
“Make more shots. This game is simple, man,” Wade said when asked how the Heat can improve in that area. “We can try to complicate it all we want. But one, you got to understand how the defense is playing you, you got to understand how to get your shots up. That’s the thing, we have some young players that they just have to go through it.
“But if you notice, even though I’m not super-duper athletic, I never just fly down the paint and just jump. I’m always trying to keep the defense off balance before I shoot a shot because I’m not allowing them to corral me, I’m not allowing them to be as explosive as they can be. I’m trying to use what I have, my shot fakes, my timing and this and that. We got a lot of guys that this is new for guys, trying to get to the rim and play this game that we’re trying to play this year. So, like I said, it’s going to take some bumps and some lumps. But hopefully over the course of the season, we get better at it.”