Heat Check

Dion Waiters nursing new injury. Plus, Heat has plenty of respect for new-look Nets

Heat starting shooting guard Dion Waiters before Friday’s practice in Mexico City was receiving treatment for his bruised right elbow.
Heat starting shooting guard Dion Waiters before Friday’s practice in Mexico City was receiving treatment for his bruised right elbow. mnavarro@miamiherald.com

Some leftover news and notes from Friday’s media session with Miami Heat players and coach Erik Spoelstra before practice:

▪ Dion Waiters had his right elbow covered up and receiving treatment prior to practice.

“It’s my elbow, a nerve or something,” Waiters said of what was bothering him.

How did it happen?

“Just a basketball play, setting a screen [against San Antonio on Wednesday],” he explained. “It’s sore. I’ll be fine though.”

Waiters has yet to miss a game this season because of injury, but this will be something to monitor.

He’s shooting 40 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three-point range this season and averaging 15.4 points per game.

▪ So what has led to Josh Richardson’s offensive boom over the last five games where he’s led the Heat in scoring over that stretch and shot 58.6 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point range?

“It’s just shots falling and I’m kind of attacking more to the rim,” Richardson said. “I think the ball is moving a little bit better. So, I mean, I think, we're making teams play harder defensively and it's putting them in tough rotations.”

Richardson said being one of the Heat’s go-to scorers is a role he wants.

“I’ve just got to stay consistent with it,” he said.

▪ The Heat (11-13) is not taking the Brooklyn Nets (10-14) lightly.

Last year, the Nets didn’t win their 10th game until March 1. Thursday night they beat Oklahoma City 100-95 in Mexico City and have won four of their last six games.

“Probably quietly around the league they’ve been under the radar,” Spoelstra said of Brooklyn. “All of a sudden if you notice they have 10 wins. They’re right there. They’ve been playing some productive basketball. They’ve had a lot of their guys out. They made a significant trade yesterday, I don’t know if [Jahlil] Okafor will be available [Saturday] night. The guys they’ve had available they’re creating an identity, they play fast, they shoot a lot of three s, they get you on your heels quite a bit. They move the ball very well.

“We have respect for Brooklyn and the kind of program they’ve been trying to build because we had some very competitive games last year [against them]. We had some games we were down 20 and had to really work to get back into it and find ways to win. Our guys understand this will be a good healthy challenge for us.”

The Nets have been without point guard DeAngelo Russell since he had arthroscopic knee surgery on Nov. 17. With the trade for Okafor, Spoelstra pointed out how Brooklyn now owns the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in the 2015 draft.

“They’re collecting talented assets for sure,” he said. “Much has been made about how they lost all their draft picks. Now all of a sudden they acquired the second and third pick of the same draft and doing it in an unconventional way. He’s a low post threat for sure. With this game being so much about three point shooting and spacing you just don’t face that many bigs that you can throw the ball to and they can score and you have to think about whether you’re going to bring another defender there or not. We saw that the other night with [LaMarcus] Aldridge. Okafor has potential to really be an impact player in the low post.”

▪ A reporter asked Spoelstra who his favorite all-time Latin American player is.

His response: “Does Carlos Arroyo count? I love [Carlos]. I’ve gotten to know Carlos Arroyo over the years. He lives in Miami, he played for us, he’s very close to one of our assistant coaches.”

Then the question got harder: What is Spo’s all-time starting five? Does it start LeBron James, Dwyane Wade?

“Those are pretty good names,” he said with a smile before making sure not to finish his answer. “Start there.”

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