Heat center Hassan Whiteside to miss Saturday’s home opener with bone bruise in left knee

MIAMI — This is not the start the Heat were hoping for.

First, it was the Rodney McGruder leg injury that will keep him out for an extended period of time. Then Dion Waiters’ tweaked his troublesome left ankle in the season opener, which the Heat lost 116-109 to the Magic on Wednesday. And the news got worse Friday.

Coach Erik Spoelstra revealed that center Hassan Whiteside is dealing with a bone bruise in his left knee that kept him out of Friday’s practice and will also keep him out of Saturday’s home opener against the Indiana Pacers. Spoelstra said Whiteside will be listed as “day-to-day.”

The Pacers will also be without their starting center Saturday, as Myles Turner has been ruled out due to a concussion & sore neck.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) goes up for a shot between Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) and guard Elfrid Payton (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Whiteside suffered his injury in the third quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Magic when he bumped his left knee with Nikola Vucevic. Whiteside said he did get an MRI on the knee, adding that he was not given a timetable and classified the setback as “a day-to-day thing to get the swelling out and stuff.”

The injury was made worse by the fact that Whiteside was hit in “the same exact spot” when he bumped his left knee with Hawks small forward Taurean Prince in Miami’s preseason opener against Atlanta on Oct. 1.

“I’m not that worried,” Whiteside said Friday of the injury. “It’s just the fact that it was hit in the same exact spot. If it was just the first time I got hit in my knee right there, it probably wouldn’t have been as bad. But, you know, I got hit again in it. So we’re going to just try to let it heal and see from there.”

Whiteside played through the pain in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game and excelled. The 28-year-old recorded 14 points and eight rebounds in 9 minutes and 28 seconds in the final period on his way to finishing with 26 points and 22 rebounds.

“I could feel it in the game,” Whiteside said. “I could feel it in the third quarter, toward the end, toward the fourth quarter, it was really bothering me a lot.”

Injuries really hurt the Heat last season, as the roster combined to miss an NBA-high 328 games due injury or illness. With McGruder out indefinitely and Whiteside now dealing with a knee injury, injuries are already causing problems this season.

“It’s frustrating, but I’m thankful it’s not nothing worse,” Whiteside said of his injury. “I’m looking at guys like my old teammate, Jeremy Lin, and what happened with Gordon [Hayward] is unfortunate. I’m looking at other guys and it always can be worse, but I’ve sent the best prayers out to those guys.”

Without Whiteside on Saturday, the Heat will be forced to use a different starting five. Kelly Olynyk, who started the opener at power forward, is an option to take Whiteside’s center spot in the starting lineup and that will create an opening at starting power forward that James Johnson or Justise Winslow can fill.

Whiteside’s injury could also open some playing time for rookie big man Bam Adebayo. The 20-year-old played six minutes in the season opener in Orlando, but didn’t record a point or rebound in the game.

“Like every day, no excuses, the next guy will step in,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “We got Kelly, Bam [Adebayo] a lot of guys. We just need to play our game, correct some things from the last game, especially defensively and open the home game with a win.”

Center AJ Hammons, who has been battling an illness over the past few weeks, is also expected to be available for Saturday’s game against the Pacers. Forwards Udonis Haslem, Jordan Mickey and Okaro White are additional options off the Heat’s bench who could get playing time with Whiteside out.

[Heat to honor Goran Dragic for EuroBasket MVP award before Saturday’s home opener]

[Mailbag: Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra not impressed with Hassan Whiteside’s 20/20 on opening night]

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