Miami Heat

Waiters’ ankle still gets sore, but he’s not concerned. And fans still voting for Wade to start All-Star Game

Heat guard Dion Waiters: ‘’It felt good’’

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters talks to the media after their 103-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 in Miami.
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Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters talks to the media after their 103-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 in Miami.

Nearly a year removed from major ankle surgery, Heat guard Dion Waiters revealed this week that the ankle still doesn’t feel completely normal.

But doctors warned him that could be the case.

“After games, it gets a little sore,” he said. “But you find ways to navigate around that. You ice it. Tons and tons of ice. You try to manage it as best as possible. We knew coming in it would be like this for a while. It’s about managing it, staying off my feet. It’s a strange feeling. Sometimes takes awhile to loosen up. It aches sometimes. It’s getting better. Just keep doing what I’m doing, get a lot of work done to it.”

He said doctors “say I will feel like myself after a couple months, who knows, going into summer time. I won’t be pain-free, but if it’s manageable, I can deal with it. Just make sure I keep my eye on it, take care of it, ice it.”

FANS STILL VOTING FOR WADE

Dwyane Wade, who turns 37 on Jan. 17 and has announced he’s retiring at the end of the season, was still in second among Eastern Conference guards in the second fan returns of All-Star balloting results released Thursday by the NBA.

Boston’s Kyrie Irving (2,381,901) is the only East guard with more votes than Wade (1,199,789), who is ahead of other top candidates such as Charlotte’s Kemba Walker (858,798), Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (695,032) and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (567,893).

Heat point guard Goran Dragic, who is out until the mid-February All-Star break after knee surgery, came in at ninth among East guards with 191,541 votes.

Wade and Dragic are the only Heat players among the top 10 in the voting among guards or frontcourt players.

But it will take more than the fan vote to get Wade into the All-Star Game as a starter.

Unlike previous years when fans were the only ones voting for the All-Star Game’s 10 starters, fan balloting now accounts for 50 percent of the vote. Players and a media panel each accounting for 25 percent of the vote.

Every voter submits a ballot with two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference to determine the starters.

If Wade doesn’t get voted in as a starter, he still could make it as a reserve. The coaches determine the seven reserves from each conference.

Voting from fans, players and media will conclude on Jan. 21 at 11:59 p.m.

WADE/WAITERS COMBO

Miami was outscored by two points but shot 51.6 percent from the field during the 19 minutes that Waiters and Wade played together Tuesday against Denver, which marked the first time they have been on the court as teammates.

And Waiters admitted to becoming something of a spectator at times in their first game action together.

“When I’m out there, and he’s got the ball and he’s doing his thing, I’m watching, taking notes in my head of the things he’s doing on the floor,” Waiters said. “The quick decision-making, bating the defender. I just be looking at it.

“Sometimes you get caught up looking at it, dissect everything he’s doing right there in that one play. I am out there learning. That’s a great tool for me. I already talk to him so much. We pick each other’s brain. He’s such a great player making plays and he’s so smart.”

Asked if he would envision more minutes alongside Wade, Waiters said: “We’ll see how things go. I’m not the coach, not in position to make any calls like that.”

THE WINSLOW EFFECT

Justise Winslow has found some consistency on offense.

The Heat’s starting point guard (with usual starter Goran Dragic out because of surgery on his right knee) has finished with double-digit points in eight consecutive games entering Thursday’s matchup against the Celtics, which is already the longest double-digit point streak of his NBA career.

Winslow is averaging 15.6 points on 46.8 percent shooting from the field, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.9 steals during this eight-game stretch.

“He’s learning and processing and applying so quickly because there’s a lot on his plate,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Winslow. “He can’t dive into one bucket too much offensively. He has to organize us, he has to give us facilitating and to get guys involved. Then he has to pick his spots when to be aggressive, and that changes from game to game and opponent to opponent. But he has the mind to be able to do that.

“I think the perfect stat lines for him would be 14, 15 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals. There are very few guys in this league that can have that kind of balance and effect on a basketball game. He’s one of those kinds of guys.”

JONES SITS

A week after Spoelstra said Derrick Jones Jr. is “making me play him” because of his energy, defense and across-the-board contributions, Spoelstra didn’t use him against Denver after 15 consecutive appearances.

Spoelstra said he instead opted for Waiters because he “felt like we needed a little bit of a scoring punch. These are tough choices. He would have helped I’m sure with the offensive rebounding.” Denver had 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Miami, 50-38.

Jones said Wednesday he received no advanced warning from Spoelstra.

“Nah, he just told just [me] to keep doing what I’m doing, always stay ready,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m just prepared for anything and [will] wait for my name to be called.”

Asked if he could envision an 11-player rotation, Spoelstra said: “I don’t know. Whatever is necessary. But I think that’s focusing on the wrong thing right now.”

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.

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