MIAMI — Dion Waiters is known for his confidence, and that confidence was on display during an appearance on Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed” on Tuesday.
Skip Bayless, one of the personalities on “Undisputed,” has made it known that he believes the Heat can make it to the Eastern Conference Finals next season. Waiters doesn’t disagree.
“We’re a scary team,” Waiters said Tuesday on “Undisputed” when asked about Bayless’ prediction. “We got a lot of different pieces that we were all counted out and nobody gave us a chance, for real. We got with coach [Erik Spoelstra] and coach [Pat Riley], and they saw something in us from Day 1. It started with training camp. From there on out, we felt like the underdog and we felt like we had something to prove.”
After re-signing Waiters and James Johnson, and retaining Wayne Ellington last week, the Heat are bringing back most of last season’s team that recorded a 30-11 record over the final 41 regular-season games. With those signings, the Heat now have 10 players from last year’s season-ending roster under contract for next season and Udonis Haslem is also expected to re-sign with Miami to push that number up to 11.
Waiters believes that continuity will help the Heat avoid another slow start to the season. Miami began 11-30 before turning things around to finish at 41-41 and just one game short of making the playoffs.
“We have chemistry,” Waiters said. “Everybody knows their roles. You got to be a star in your role, whatever it is. I think coming into this season, we know what’s at stake. We know that nasty taste we had in our mouths from last season by missing the playoffs by one game.”
Waiters was one of the big reasons behind Miami’s second-half surge. The 25-year-old averaged 18.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting to go with 3.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists over the 30-11 run.
But a sprained ankle forced Waiters to miss the season’s final 13 games, as Miami recorded a 7-6 record in his absence.
“It was one of the worst ankle injuries I’ve ever had,” Waiters said Tuesday, almost four months since suffering the injury. “It’s good. It’s probably like 90 percent. It’s still a little swollen, but I’m fine.”
“Undisputed” personalities Shannon Sharpe and Bayless kept pushing Waiters on whether he believes the Heat can beat the Cavaliers in a playoff series next season. The Heat shooting guard seemed hesitant to make that prediction, but he did point out that Miami posted a 3-1 record against Cleveland last season.
“I like our chances against anybody over seven games,” Waiters said. “We’re just different. We’re dogs. We’re a bunch of dogs. We come from the jungle. That’s our motto.”