MIAMI — Udonis Haslem had a front-row seat for Dion Waiters’ on-court workout.
With Heat coaches looking on, Waiters went through a strenuous on-court session with a few of his teammates after Tuesday’s practice. As part of that workout that happened in front of reporters, Waiters tested his sprained left ankle by trying to drive to the basket with Haslem defending him.
Considering Waiters has missed the Heat’s past 12 games with his ankle injury, Haslem was impressed.
“He’s good, His first step is amazing, it’s explosive,” Haslem said after working with Waiters on Tuesday. “It’s probably one of the quicker first steps that I’ve witnessed. He’ll probably just continue to work and get some of that stiffness out as he gets more confident in that ankle.”
Waiters was able to push off his injured ankle to get past Haslem multiple times, finishing at the rim over the 14-year NBA veteran. But coach Erik Spoelstra said there is no new update regarding Waiters and he will still be listed as questionable for Wednesday’s season finale against the Wizards.
Aside from his one-on-one session with Haslem, Waiters also tested his ankle by running sprints up and down the court and taking part in some 2-on-2 work with backup center Willie Reed. Although Waiters looked shifty during the workout, it’s clear the injury is still bothering him as he winced in pain and grabbed at his left ankle multiple times.
“He’s working hard and he’s getting shots up right now, as you can see,” Heat center Hassan Whiteside said of Waiters. “He’s working hard and trying to get back out there with us.”
Before Monday’s win over the Cavaliers, Waiters said he still feels some “discomfort” in his left ankle. It’s been more than three weeks since the 25-year-old shooting guard suffered the injury on March 17 against the Timberwolves.
Despite the lingering pain, Waiters still hopes to play in the playoffs if the Heat are able to make it. When asked Monday if he would be available for the start of the postseason this upcoming weekend, he didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“Hell yeah,” Waiters said. “Even if I got to play on one foot. That’s why I’ve been here the last two weeks, two times a day, six to eight hours of treatment. I’m doing everything possible. Even when I’m home, I still treat it. I’m doing everything in my power, man, just to get back. It’s just annoying as hell, man. The timing of the injury, I think it was just bad timing. That’s why I was frustrated.”’
The Heat have recorded a 6-6 record without Waiters during this stretch.
The injury came in the middle of one of the best stretches of Waiters’ NBA career. He was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week in January and averaged 18.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting and 4.8 assists in the 25 games leading up to the injury.
If the Heat find a way to extend their season and make it to the playoffs, can a limited Waiters help Miami? Or will playing through the pain end up being counterproductive for Waiters and the Heat?
“Once you make your mind up to play, you’re in the fire now,” Haslem said when asked about playing through injuries. “I don’t know what the situation may be for tomorrow, but Dion’s cut from the same cloth as myself. Once he puts that jersey on and makes the decision or coach makes the decision that he’s going to be out there, he’s not going to focus on that injury or that pain. He’s going to focus on what it takes to get this team a W.”