Barry Jackson

The Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson discusses his injury, his big fear and when he’ll return

Heat guard Tyler Johnson on the court during Monday’s game in Chicago right after an injury to his left ankle and Achilles.
Heat guard Tyler Johnson on the court during Monday’s game in Chicago right after an injury to his left ankle and Achilles. Getty Images

Relieved his injury isn’t as bad as initially feared, Heat guard Tyler Johnson said Wednesday that the injury around his left foot likely will sideline him a matter of days, not weeks.

Johnson was wearing a boot on his left leg but still able to walk around the court without a problem, holding a basketball, during the team’s morning shootaround at BMO Harris Bradley Center, in advance of Wednesday’s game against the Bucks.

He said the injury is a sprain to his ankle and Achilles.

He won’t play against Milwaukee and then will be re-evaluated before Friday’s game in Brooklyn.

X-rays showed no structural damage and the Heat determined an MRI was not necessary.

“I haven’t really been given a timetable,” he said. “It’s an ankle and Achilles like sprain. It’s just a weird spot. We’ll see. Once we get all the swelling out I think we’ll have more of an idea of the timetable. 

“I don’t think it’s going to be weeks just based off the fact that when I walk on it, it just gets really sore after. The fact that I’m able to at least put a little pressure on it, that’s a good sign.”

Johnson said he was initially very concerned when he fell to the floor in Chicago on Monday after a collision with Bulls center Robin Lopez.

“I was really worried because initially it felt like my knee popped,” he said. “That’s why when I went down I started grabbing at my knee and that was what was more worrisome than anything else. I’ve never had a bad knee injury so I didn’t know what it felt like. I was just thankful once I got to the back and my adrenaline kind of went down the pain in my knee wasn’t nothing I really ever felt before. My foot was down and it just kind of got tangled up.”

He was heartened by the fact teammates and coaches gathered around him before he was carted off.

“It’s love,” he said. “We give anybody and everybody on that team that type of support. It’s a great feeling to know that guys generally care about you. At the same time that’s what’s so hurtful about sitting out is that you can’t be there to fight with those guys.”

Derrick Jones Jr. worked with the starters in shootaround on Wednesday in Johnson’s absence, but coach Erik Spoelstra did not publicly disclose who would start at shooting guard.

Jones, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow likely will play more in the absence of Dion Waiters (who is out for the season), Johnson and Rodney McGruder.

“It is different,” Goran Dragic said of how the Heat’s offense runs without Waiters or Johnson. “If I start with Dion, Dion is a different player than Tyler. It’s not helping Tyler’s hurt. It’s kind of we lost all of our two guards, Rodney, Tyler and Dion. We went through that last year, this year, we’ve had a lot of injuries. We’re not going to use that as an excuse. We just need to regroup, next man gear up and try to provide us with a good game.”

Dragic called Jones “a unique player” with an “ability to finish above the rim, to dunk on people. He’s got a nice outside shot too. He reminds me of Gerald Green a little bit, especially he can be really good. He’s long, athletic, a guy who can defend multiple positions.​”

The Heat augmented its backcourt by recalling guard Derrick Walton Jr. from its G-league affiliate in South Dakota. He entered Wednesday with 11 remaining days of NBA eligibility this season as part of his two-way contract.

Spoelstra said he had no significant update on McGruder, who has been sidelined since the start of the season with a broken tibia but is expected back at some point this season. He said McGruder is doing some basketball activities.

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