Goran Dragic missed Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers and will be out for the rest of the Miami Heat’s West Coast trip.
The Heat’s starting point guard will return to South Florida soon to get an MRI on a strained left calf that he injured during Monday night’s 111-103 loss at Golden State.
Neither Dragic nor the Heat is sure how long he will be out. Asked if he thinks Dragic will be out for a significant amount of time, coach Erik Spoelstra responded: “We don’t know right now. But it’s not a tear.”
Dragic, who said he has never had a calf strain before, was obviously disappointed.
“I don’t know which quarter [it was], I just felt the pain,” Dragic said Wednesday morning after the Heat completed a shootaround at Santa Monica High.
“When your [body is] hot, you play through it. After the game we did some ice, some tests and they said they couldn’t tell [how bad it was]. We went to go see the doctor [Tuesday] and did the ultrasound. He said it’s a bad strain. Hopefully, it’s nothing.”
The Heat (22-16) certainly hopes so.
After struggling through November (10.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds), Dragic had begun to find his footing in the Heat’s offense. During the past 15 games, he has scored in double figures in all but three of those games and averaged 14.3 points, five assists and 3.3 rebounds.
Veteran Beno Udrih was expected to start in Dragic’s place Wednesday night, with second-year combo guard Tyler Johnson expected to see a significant bump in minutes.
“Everyone deals with injuries, but it’s unfortunate,” Dwyane Wade said. “I think Goran was starting to figure it out a little bit more, what he needs to do, what’s expected of him, figuring out the Eastern Conference. Like I said the other day, I was excited coming on this Western Conference trip because this is his backyard. To not have him these next couple games it’s going to be a little different. But that’s why Tyler Johnson is here and Beno [Udrih]. They’re going to do a good job of stepping up and filling in.”
Outside of not having Josh McRoberts around much of the season, the hamstring injury that kept Luol Deng out for a six-game stretch, and the troublesome left shoulder that has kept Johnson out for different stretches, the Heat has managed to avoid major injuries to key rotation players.
If Dragic is out for a significant amount of time it could send the season spiraling in a different direction.
How prepared is the Heat to go without Dragic?
“I don’t know. I really don’t,” Wade said. “We’ll see, man. I think we’ll be fine. We’re going to miss what he brings, especially in transition and in attack. Hopefully what the other guys bring — it’s not going to be Goran — but its effective enough and it helps our team.”
Wade is coming off a season-high 11 assists in Monday’s loss. So, he can do plenty of facilitating. But the Heat will miss Dragic’s scoring ability.
“I play the game the same,” Wade said when asked if he’ll try and fill in for the loss of Dragic’s offensive playmaking and scoring. “Some nights I come out really to facilitate. Some nights I come out and really attack. Some nights I do both at the same time. I think its moreso going to be on Beno and how he approaches the game and what he feels he needs to do to get guys going, but also be aggressive because he can score the basketball. We need that position to be able to score as well. It will be more so on those guys than myself or Chris [Bosh].”
▪ Center Hassan Whiteside, who missed Monday’s game with tendinitis in his right knee, returned Wednesday night but came off the bench as the Heat tweked its lineup and started Bosh at center.