Heat starting small forward Josh Richardson, who sustained a sprained AC joint in his left (non-shooting) shoulder in Game 4 of the Heat-76ers playoff series, said he’s optimistic but not certain he will play in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
After participating in Heat shootaround at Temple University on Tuesday morning, Richardson estimated his chances of playing at 60 percent.
“I'm optimistic but not 100 percent sure,” he said. “I want to play. There's a little bit of pain. Still sore. I'm going to warm up. I went through the whole shootaround. We'll see how it feels later."
Was there any pain? "A little bit but nothing I can't fight through."
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Coach Erik Spoelstra said the team is still listing him as questionable but that his work during shootaround was “encouraging. We’ll see how he responds in the afternoon.”
Tyler Johnson said in the aftermath of Game 4, he and Spoelstra discussed ways to get him more involved offensively. Johnson has played only 62 minutes and taken only 15 shots (making seven) in the first four games.
“It's not an easy thing, especially in this series,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I want to be as involved as I can. But I want to be involved because I know I can help. It's not because I feel like, ‘Oh I need x amount of shots. ' It comes from a place of I feel I can contribute to the team. We were talking about it, trying to figure out ways I can be effective not only for myself but for the team.”
Spoelstra said Tuesday: “I would like to try to get him more involved offensively. He had some very good moments defensively in the second half. Just didn’t get back to him when the game went the other way in the fourth quarter.”
Johnson has played just three fourth quarter minutes in this series after ranking sixth on the team in fourth quarter minutes during the regular season.
Johnson said not playing in the fourth is weird for him.
“Obviously, I want to be out there. But it's a situation where we're trying to put whatever group we feel can best exploit their team in the fourth. It's different not being out there. But if we win, I [couldn’t] care less."
Johnson’s overall minutes also are down; his 14 minutes in Game 4 were his second fewest of the season.
“In those minutes, I have to find something I can do to be able to contribute regardless of whether it's offensively or defensively,” he said.
Johnson said his sore thumb — sustained when he tried to cushion his fall after a collision with Joel Embiid early in Game 3 — isn’t limiting him and he would be playing even if this were the regular season.
“It's sore but it's not limiting me from doing anything that I would normally do. It's more so, sometimes a thought when I dribble because of the feeling it gets sometimes when it gets hit kind of hard. But it's not so [uncomfortable] that I can't do it.”
Said Spoelstra: "He's ready to go. He would probably punch me in the face if I said anything otherwise."
Swingman Rodney McGruder, who returned in February from a preseason stress fracture in his left leg, entered Game 5 having played just nine minutes in the series.
He said before the series started that he and Spoelstra “had a sitdown and talked about the role. It was just stay ready, you never know what's going to happen.”
McGruder said “it makes it easier when you're trusting a coach who's [coached] in NBA Finals, who's a great coach, it's easy to accept anything that really comes out of his mouth. [Not playing much] hasn't been frustrating at all. I'm blessed I could come back and play this season. I just look at the brighter side of things. I am fortunate enough to suit up this year. I am treating everything as a learning experience. I'm learning a lot. I've never been in the playoffs amongst this atmosphere before.”
Asked if he has rethought how much to play McGruder, even with a crowded rotation, Spoelstra said Tuesday: “It always does [enter his thinking]. And I don't know if there are any absolute answers with our group in this series. There are some things for certain. I know Rodney would have an impact, just like other guys would have an impact. Those are tough decisions. I love Rodney McGruder. He gave us some solid short minutes in Game 1. We'll see if we go that deep tonight.”