MIAMI – Dion Waiters was scared when he crumpled to the ground during the second quarter of Miami’s win Friday against Minnesota.
“Honestly, I thought it was way worse than it was,” said Waiters, who is walking with the help of crutches. “I thought it could have been fracture or something. (Thanks) to the Man above it wasn’t that. But it was a bad sprain.”
Speaking to the media for the first time since rolling his left ankle, Waiters now is hoping to return by the end of the regular season. The injury occurs as the Heat are in a playoff push after starting the season 11-30.
Miami has won 23-of-28 entering tonight’s game against Portland.
“We just got to keep working on it and hopefully this thing keeps improving every day,” Waiters said. “I’m a young 25 so my bones should heal kind of fast. Just got to keep working on it, keep having the faith.
“Hopefully man I wake up and this thing is gone.”
The focus of the treatment now is to reduce the swelling. The Heat have not put a timetable on his return.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said the team is not concerned the injury is anything more than a sprained ankle. X-rays taken after the game were negative and Spoelstra said Sunday there were no plans for an MRI.
“We continue to reevaluate him,” Spoelstra said today. “It’s a sprained ankle. We’ll continue to treat him every single day and hopefully it will heal fast.”
Waiters, who missed 20 games because of a torn muscle in his groin area and three games after spraining the same ankle in early February, clearly was dejected about have to miss time during the crucial final month.
“It sucks, it’s frustrating,” he said, adding this sprain is worse than the one about six weeks ago. “But we just got to continue to keep moving in the right direction. Just take it day-by-day. I believe in my guys. I know they’re going to hold the fort down for me.
“It sucks not being out there, especially the rhythm and everything we were in, I was in. Minor setback for a major comeback. You got to stay positive.”
Waiters is third on the Heat with 15.8 points per game and second with 4.3 assists. He has been a major reason for the Heat’s turnaround, averaging 18.9 points and 4.9 assists during the streak entering Friday.
Although Wayne Ellington started in place of Waiters for in the second half Friday, Josh Richardson got the start Sunday. Richardson has struggled in the 12 games he’s played since returning from a foot sprain, shooting 32.2 percent from the floor (20 percent from three) while averaging 5.2 points.