Justise Winslow was ruled out for his 16th game in a row Monday, and by the time the Miami Heat face the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, it will officially be a month since he last played.
His absensce has lasted a lot longer than most imagined for a player listed on the team’s injury report with a sore left wrist.
But as coach Erik Spoelstra revealed before Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Heat believes a month worth of healing, rehabbing and restrengthening is better than the alternative — which could have been surgery.
“I think right now all of our hopes are that he won’t need it,” Spoelstra replied when asked if Winslow may need surgery at the end of the season. “That's why we went through extensive treatment and rest. And right now it looks like we won't need to go that route.”
“It's actually gotten significantly better. It was a sprain. He continued to play with it, continued to reaggravate it and then we shut him down we started the process of healing it and then rehabbing it and then re-strengthening it. He’s getting better. He’s doing more court work each day. I would say probably now is when you're starting to say he’s probably getting pretty close to full contact work on the court.”
Winslow, who participated in Monday’s shootaround but still has not had a full 5-on-5 practice, has been wearing a brace on his wrist for several weeks now. It’s something Spoelstra imagines Winslow will have to do the rest of the season.
“That's just to stabilize it,” Spoelstra said. “Anybody that’s had wrist issues, you have to wear a brace when you’re not active. And it helps. Any little bit helps. [For Winslow] that’s more precautionary. He doesn't necessarily need it. It’s already starting to feel a lot better.”
ADVICE FOR WHITESIDE
Captain Udonis Haslem wasn’t with the Heat last Friday night when Spoelstra yanked center Hassan Whiteside in the third quarter for not playing with the kind of energy expected of the team’s franchise player. So, Haslem stayed away from discussing the subject directly prior to Monday night’s game.
But he did have some advice for the Heat’s $98-million center.
“I would just say go out and play the game and enjoy the game and focus on being the guy that your teammates can depend on every night,” Haslem said. “My motivation every night I stepped out on the floor was never to score or anything like that. I just didn’t want to let my teammates down. I just wanted to be the guy they knew that regardless of the situation they could depend on me to bring it every night. I just played out of fear of letting my teammates down. That was really my motivation.”
How does Haslem think Whiteside has handled the pressure of being the face of the franchise through the first 24 games of the season?
“I think he's handling it well,” Haslem said. “I wouldn't know. I was never the guy that made that much money, had that much pressure. So, it’s different. But I think he’s done well. It’s a work in progress for everybody. All of us, we're growing together. With Dwyane [Wade] being out, it’s all eyes on Hassan and him being our best player, and him being the guy that most likely decides whether we win or lose the majority of the nights. I’m sure that's got to be a lot to carry and it’s a lot coming quickly.”
▪ Spoelstra said guard Dion Waiters, who has been out with a groin tear and last played Nov. 26, will be re-evaluated later this week. “He’s getting evaluated everyday by our trainers,” Spoelstra said. “He is making progress. He’s doing a ton of rehab. A lot of conditioning work on the bike and in the pool and he’s just started to do some core work over the weekend.”