MIAMI – The Miami Heat will be without leading scorer and distributer, point guard Goran Dragic, for their matchup tonight against Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook.
Dragic, averaging 19.3 points and 6.6 assists, is dealing with back spasms that began in the first quarter of the Heat’s loss in New Orleans on Friday.
The Heat also are without power forward, Josh McRoberts, who is out indefinitely with another stress fracture in his left foot.
As a result, coach Erik Spoelstra will trot out his 11th different starting lineup against the Thunder as Miami now has lost 127 games to illness or injury.
Guard Rodney McGruder and forward Derrick Williams return to the starting lineup, joining Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside in the starting lineup. Spoelstra once again has opted to keep his best two reserves – Tyler Johnson and James Johnson – coming off the bench.
“I don’t know if I want to disrupt the bench and what they’ve been doing,” he said. “But one of these days I might have to.”
Spoelstra was asked before the game if there’s a breaking point.
“No, there’s not a breaking point,” he said. “You’re capable of handling whatever you need to handle and in this league anything that comes at you is an opportunity to grow as a team.
“We’ve had so many of these close games, like the New Orleans game, where we are growing. We’re getting better, we’re gaining a lot of experience. Experience is the best teacher unfortunately to get that experience you have to through it and sometimes there’s pain with that.”
The good news: guards Wayne Ellington (hamstring) and Rodney McGruder (ankle) are expected to return. Both warmed up with the intention of playing.
Ellington missed four games and McGruder three with their most recent injuries.
Dragic will miss his sixth game of the season due to his third different injury. He missed three with a sprained ankle and two because of a strained elbow. He has been Miami’s best player the last month, averaging 22.3 points and 7.3 assists in the last 15 games or since returning from his elbow injury.
Dion Waiters will miss his 16th game with a torn groin muscle.
“He’s progressing,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been doing a lot of conditioning.”
McRoberts had started the last 14 games. He missed training camp and the first seven games of the season as he recovered from a stress reaction stemming from a broken left foot he suffered during last year’s playoffs.
McRoberts has now missed 96 games since signing with the Heat in the summer of 2014.