Barry Jackson

Heat facing uncertainty on return of two of its key players

The Heat said Saturday there’s no timeline for Josh Richardson’s return from a heel injury, and the organization is genuinely unsure when he will be able to play.

Though the Heat remains hopeful that the bruised left heel is not a season-ending injury, Richardson – at the moment – cannot put pressure on the heel, and there are less than two weeks left in the regular season.

The injury was sustained when he was undercut against Orlando on Tuesday, and Richardson missed Thursday’s game against Dallas.

Richardson has been wearing a walking boot, at times, to protect the heel but also because he cannot put pressure on it.

“That’s part of his treatment,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Saturday morning’s shootaround at Basketball City in Manhattan. “He has also quite a bit of treatment without the boot. There’s not a timeline.”

Richardson, Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder all did not travel with the team to a two-game road trip to New York and Boston.

Richardson leads the Heat in scoring at 16.7 points per game.

Meanwhile, Winslow is missing an eighth consecutive game with a right thigh bruise. The Heat had hoped he would return to game action this past week, but enough progress hasn’t been made to allow that.

Spoelstra said Winslow, Richardson and McGruder (sore knee left) are back in Miami getting “as much treatment and work they can get around the clock. That’s their focus.”

With Winslow and Richardson sidelined against Dallas, Spoelstra started Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. up front and Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters in the backcourt.

The absences of Richardson and Winslow could mean more minutes for Duncan Robinson, a skilled shooter who has improved his all-around game. Robinson played 22 minutes Thursday, finishing with six points on 2 for 9 shooting and two rebounds.

“He’s certainly gotten better,” Spoelstra said. “He had a phenomenal year in the G-League, but he’s improved his defense, his body, conditioning, his strength. He’s improved his ability to work on the move for catch and shoot opportunities. He’s become much more dynamic.”

Meanwhile, Jones Jr. missed the Heat’s Saturday morning shootaround in Manhattan but is expected to play Saturday night against the Knicks. The Heat plays in Boston on Monday.

Please check out my second Heat post Saturday with Dion Waiters talking about why he will be an “action figure” next season, including weight loss goals, and news on Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic.

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