MIAMI – The Miami Heat have been shorthanded most of the season but nothing like tonight.
The Heat will be without Goran Dragic (back), Hassan Whiteside (eye) and Justise Winslow (shoulder). With Dion Waiters (groin) and Josh McRoberts (foot) already sidelined, Miami has nine available players for the game against the Pistons.
Winslow’s injury is a stinger in his right shoulder. He said was injured on the last play of the Heat’s loss Friday in Boston when he got tangled up with Al Horford. He was getting treatment before tonight’s game.
“I’m not too worried about it. I should be fine,” he said.
“We’re not going to make no excuses,” Winslow said. “We’re all basketball players. We get paid to do this. We get paid to show up on time. We get paid to have your brothers’ back on the court. We have what we have. We just go out there and play and perform. It’s our job.”
Whiteside was poked in his right eye late in Friday’s game. He visited an eye doctor Saturday and posted pictures of himself wearing an eye patch. Spoelstra said the eye remains sensitive to light.
Coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if there was consideration to having Whiteside play wearing goggles.
“No, not right now,” he said. “That might be something down the line. Right now his eyes are too sensitive.”
Whiteside was the only player on the team who had been available for all 34 games this season.
Dragic, who will miss his third game since experiencing back spasms, said he is feeling “much better.” He lifted weights and ran in the pool today.
“It’s getting looser definitely,” he said.
Dragic already has attempted to play once before shutting it down a second time because of the back. He first sat out Tuesday’s game against the Thunder, attempted to play two nights later in Charlotte and then missed Friday’s game in Boston. He has been dealing with the injury since the Dec. 30 game in New Orleans.
Spoelstra is not sure who will be traveling on Monday as Miami leaves for a six-game trip starting Tuesday in Phoenix. He did say McRoberts, who is out indefinitely, is not traveling; and Waiters, who has missed 18 games, will be traveling. Dragic said he will make the trip. Spoelstra added some players could join the team during the trip.
“Everybody works hard so it’s the next man up and we’ve had that mentality from the jump,” forward James Johnson said. “We don’t made no excuses and we’re not going to start.”
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, the former Heat head coach, is not comforted by the fact Miami will be without 80 percent of its opening night starting lineup.
“I know this about Erik’s teams, it’s that they’re going to play really hard,” Van Gundy said. “I also know in this league that when other guys get opportunities to have the ball in their hands, it’s a dangerous thing.”
The Heat will have lost 140 player games due to injuries, including Chris Bosh, after tonight.