Eight Heat players have missed at least some time with injuries during this stretch of 16 wins in 18 games. And now the Heat will be without its backup center for at least one game and possibly beyond.
An MRI on Sunday revealed that Willie Reed has right ankle bursitis. Reed, who was on crutches Saturday night, will miss Monday’s game at Dallas and will be listed as day to day beyond that.
When Reed was carted off the court in the fourth quarter against Indiana on Saturday, the initial concern was that Reed might have torn his Achilles’ tendon. The Heat then diagnosed the injury as a strained calf before an MRI showed bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursa in the ankle.
Reed has averaged 5.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 14.7 minutes per game in 50 appearances, while shooting 57.1 percent from the field.
“I felt bad for him; he has been big coming off the bench,” starting center Hassan Whiteside said. “I’m glad it’s not too serious.”
Among the options without Reed: Using undersized lineups with power forwards Udonis Haslem or James Johnson as the backup center.
Haslem has appeared in only 16 games this season, averaging 1.9 points and 2.2 rebounds.
The Heat has no roster spot at the moment but could qualify to add a 16th player, on a 10-day contract, only if Reed is out an extended time. The Heat qualified for that extension for several weeks in the past two months before Josh Richardson returned from a foot injury.
Under NBA rules, a team can apply for a roster exemption once at least four players have been sidelined for at least three games, with each certified by an independent doctor to be sidelined for an additional two weeks.
Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow would all qualify. But Reed, at this point, does not.
The Heat also could create a roster spot in the next couple of weeks by initiating the process of releasing Chris Bosh and clearing him from its cap. In the past week, there has been contact between Bosh and the Heat’s medical staff.
Bosh’s remaining salary would be cleared from the team’s cap if “a doctor that is jointly selected by the league and players association agree his condition is career-ending, or severe enough to put him at risk if he continues playing,” according to the NBA’s labor agreement.
Pacers forward Paul George alleged that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s comments to an official contributed to a second technical foul call and automatic ejection in the third quarter of Saturday’s 113-95 Heat win.
Referee Gary Zielinski ejected Pacers star Paul George after he picked up his second technical foul within a 1-minute, 56-second span early in the third quarter.
The first infraction against George was a double technical when he and Rodney McGruder shoved each other. George then drew his second technical, and an automatic ejection, when he cursed at Zielinski with the Pacers down by six and 8:49 left in the third.
“I didn’t say anything derogative to him,” George said. “It’s a soft league, man. That easily could have been a warning. I felt I was chucked and then I responded. This is a soft league. [Zielinski] was a puppet with Spoelstra in his ear, and he called it.”
Zielinski said George was assessed the second technical because of “profanity directed at an official.”
Heat players thought this was a case of McGruder getting under George’s skin.
“That’s what Rodney does,” guard Dion Waiters said. “He gets under your skin. You know he is going to make you work. He is like the heart and soul of our team. Paul George wasn’t up for that or ready for that. You have to respect that man. He guards the best players and makes them work”
Said James Johnson: “I love it. Paul George is a great player. Rodney McGruder doesn’t care…. Rodney sticks his nose into everything and goes for every loose ball. He’s our scavenger.”
McGruder said he’s not entering games with the intent of getting into the heads of players he’s guarding. “If they need me to be a pest, I will be a pest,” he said.
▪ The Heat is now 18-10 when Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters start together in the Heat’s backcourt.
“The two of them enjoy playing with each other,” coach Erick Spoelstra said. “You don't want to take that for granted because of chemistry and cohesiveness. That takes time. Those guys enjoy how their games complement each other. They respect the other player's strength. Ehen they are both on top of their games, they're unique.
“They're both extremely aggressive. They're tough to keep out of the paint, but they're both such willing passers, to be able to get off the ball and make the game easier for their teammates. When you have two guys like that, it really helps your offense.”
▪ The Heat’s 13 three-point baskets on Sunday gave Miami 43 over three games – its most threes over a three-game span in franchise history, according to Elias.
Monday: Heat at Mavericks
When/where: 8:30 p.m.; American Airlines Center, Dallas.
TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790 AM; WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Tied at 30 all-time.
Scouting report: The Heat enters with 16 wins in 18 games, including a 99-95 win against Dallas on Jan. 19 in Miami. Goran Dragic scored 32 in that game and Tyler Johnson 23. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 19 points in that game. … The Heat has scored at least 100 points in a franchise record 16 consecutive games.