MIAMI – Goran Dragic participated in Tuesday’s full practice after his right eye dramatically improved a day earlier, giving the Heat point guard confidence that he will be back in the lineup Wednesday against New Orleans.
“It’s still a little bit blurry, but it’s way better than it was,” said Dragic, whose eye was swollen shut on Sunday. “I was doing massage all day, trying to remove the swelling. As you can see it’s way better.”
When asked if he thinks he will play Wednesday, Dragic said, “Oh yeah. Definitely.” He has not plans to wear protection.
Dragic was constantly massaging the swollen eye and applying cold water, which paid off Monday afternoon when it finally opened. Now the swelling is minimal but the eye remains badly bruised.
The Heat never were overly concerned once it was learned there was no structural damage to the eye.
“It was like a boxer’s trainer (Monday) all day long trying to get the swelling out,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It worked. It was much better.”
Dragic caught a Cory Joseph elbow early in the second half of Saturday’s home win over the Raptors as Joseph was driving to the basket.
Dragic immediately left the game and did not return. He traveled to Indianapolis that night but when the eye remained swollen shut Sunday he did not play in that night’s 102-98 loss to the Pacers, the Heat’s fifth loss in their last 26 games.
“He was missed,” guard Dion Waiters said. “He was missed for sure. He’s a big part of the team and what we’re doing. To have a guy go down like that. We did what we had to do. We just came up short. We’re glad to have him back.”
Josh Richardson started in place of Dragic and the second-year guard out of Tennessee continued to struggle offensively after missing 19 games with a left foot sprain. Richardson is averaging 4.9 points on .302 shooting, including .111 on threes in his 10 games since returning from the injury.
Teammates teased Dragic, calling him Rocky or Drago, as in Ivan Drago, from the Russian boxer from the film Rocky IV.
“To hear him say, ‘cut me’ in his accent was pretty funny,” Spoelstra said.
Dragic said his teammates were playing Eye of the Tiger.
Dragic still feels some pain around above the eye and said he has some blurriness but that is improving.
“I’ve been putting drops in,” he said. “How it was yesterday, I feel like tomorrow is going to be even better, way better.
“If you touch it, it’s pain. But I’ve played with a lot of injuries (that were) was hurting. The main thing is try to open the eye. Now it’s open so I’m fine for tomorrow.”