Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson eyes pre-playoff return

Tyler Johnson is optimistic he could come back before the playoffs. (Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson is optimistic he could come back before the playoffs. (Getty Images)

Tyler Johnson can’t be trusted when it comes to giving an update on his injury status, so much so that coach Erik Spoelstra (jokingly or half-jokingly or possibly not joking at all) publicly suggested that Johnson would lie about his health in order to stay on the court for the Heat.

Johnson has been out since undergoing surgery on his left shoulder in January and might be out for the year, though he is unwilling to believe that. His rehabilitation work has been going well, and he said this afternoon he hopes to be back before the end of the regular season.

“In my head, yeah, for sure,” he said. “My goal has always been to get back and have at least a couple games before the playoffs. That’s my goal. I think the doctors are just being cautious, but the process has been going really well.”

As expected, Spoelstra isn’t saying anything close to that.

“There’s no timetable,” he said. “I reminded him of that two days ago. No timetable.”

The Heat have 14 games left, the next being Saturday at home against Cleveland, and would start the playoffs April 16 or 17.

Getting Johnson back for that would be a significant boost. He was the back-up point guard before going down and was averaging 8.7 points in 24 minutes per game while shooting 48.8 percent. He was at 38.6 on 3-pointers.

The Heat have barred him from doing any serious exercise involving his left shoulder, but he has been training in the weight room and is back to a full load of conditioning. He also has begun shooting left-handed within a limited range.

“I’m back to lifting, full conditioning, pretty much doing everything but taking long shots,” Johnson said. “I can do all the dummy offense and make pretty much every pass except fully winding up with the left. I can shoot in the paint. I’m getting back to finishing over the head, just layups and in close, nothing too long.

“I’m not overdoing it. If they’re giving me an exercise to do, any time I feel discomfort I shut it down instead of trying to push through it, which has been my way of doing it in the past. That’s probably why I had the surgery so late in the season. I’m definitely taking this one a little bit more maturely, I would say.”

[A look at what’s going on inside Dwyane Wade’s head during this shooting slump]

[Joe Johnson chose Heat (over Cavs) because he believed they were a piece away from title contention]

[Hassan Whiteside with some terrific quotes on how he was officiated vs. Hornets]

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