Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters not going to use sore left ankle as an excuse

Dion Waiters #11 of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena on October 25, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MIAMI — Dion Waiters is not going to make any excuses.

Yes, his sore left ankle has become a lingering issue. But he’s not going to use it as a crutch.

That’s why when Waiters was asked Saturday about his second-half struggles to start the season, he wouldn’t point to the ankle as the reason. Entering Saturday’s game against the Celtics, the Heat’s starting shooting guard is averaging 5.5 points on 37.5 percent shooting in the second half compared to 9.8 points on 50 percent shooting in the first half this season.

“It’s tough,” Waiters said Saturday of his sore left ankle. “It’s just frustrating at the end of the day. But it’s whatever. It wasn’t that, though. That wasn’t really the reason for the second half, it was the flow of the game, you know. I got to come out with that mindset, stay aggressive.”

Waiters said he works to keep his left ankle loose during halftime by trying “to put heat on it and just keep moving it.”

“He works with the trainers right away,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Waiters’ halftime regimen. “As soon as we’re done talking, he gets with them and they start working on mobilizing, all that.”

Waiters, 25, was held out of Tuesday’s practice due to left ankle soreness, but he’s played in every game so far this season. The left ankle has been an ongoing issue since Waiters sprained it on March 17, forcing him to miss the final 13 games of the 2016-17 season.

Waiters revealed during training camp that he could have had surgery on the ankle, but he decided against it because he would have been forced to miss eight to 10 months. In this scenario of undergoing surgery shortly after suffering the injury in March, he would have entered free agency this summer as a player who wouldn’t have been ready to play until somewhere between November and January under that timetable.

Waiters ended up signing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Heat this summer. $1.1 million of his salary this season is tied to a bonus that kicks in if he plays in more than 70 of Miami’s 82 games, raising his 2017-18 salary from $11 million to $12.1 million.

Waiters is averaging 15.3 points on 44.6 percent shooting to go with 3.0 assists through four games this season.

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