Injury update: Miami Heat could enter season opener with only 11 healthy players

MIAMI — The Heat enter the regular season with a 15-man roster, but maybe only 11 healthy players.

There’s a chance Miami will have just 11 players available to play in Wednesday’s game against the Magic. The Heat are expected to be without Josh Richardson (partially torn MCL) and Josh McRoberts (foot) in the season opener, and now Wayne Ellington (right quad contusion) is also in danger of missing the contest.

Add in the loss of Chris Bosh, who still counts as part of Miami’s 15-man roster, and the Heat could be without four players in Orlando.

Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts (4) and Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) blocks Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) during a free throw, in Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff basketball series, Monday, May 9, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts (4) and Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) blocks Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) during a free throw, in Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff basketball series, Monday, May 9, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

But Richardson and McRoberts are making progress. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday they both “took steps forward the last two days doing more for longer periods of time” in partial-contact drills during practice.

Richardson has been out since suffering a partially torn MCL in his right knee in a voluntary workout on Sept. 9. The 23-year-old said he has not gone through “full live reps” yet, but he still feels like he’s “getting close” to making a return.

When asked if he will miss Wednesday’s season opener, Richardson wouldn’t give a definitive answer Monday.

“I don’t know,” Richardson answered. “It’s not looking too good. Hopefully I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

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As for McRoberts, he said he hasn’t had any setbacks in his recovery from a stress reaction that stems from a broken left foot he suffered in Game 6 against Toronto on May 13 in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. But there is still no timetable for his return.

“It’s tough for me to say,” McRoberts said Monday when asked for a possible return date. “I haven’t really set a date yet. That would be something to ask the training staff probably. I go off of what they tell me. I feel good after the practices I’ve done and hopefully I can return pretty soon.”

When McRoberts does come back, he believes he’ll be playing more minutes at center than power forward. The 29-year-old said he’s been spending most of his time at center during practices, which would give the Heat a center rotation of Hassan Whiteside, Willie Reed and McRoberts.

“I’m sure I’ll play mostly five,” McRoberts said. “I think that’s kind of the way the league is going at this point.”

Unlike Richardson and McRoberts, Ellington suffered his injury recently. Ellington left Friday’s preseason game in the second quarter with a right quad contusion and missed the Heat’s past two practices on Sunday and Monday.

“I’m making progress, but I’m not quite ready yet,” Ellington said. “I still have some swelling going on, so I’ve just been doing treatment every day. … It’s tough to even bend my leg.”

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