Hassan Whiteside’s bone bruise on knee improving, but still no timetable for return

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, center, Tyler Johnson (8) and Justise Winslow (20) watch during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, in Miami. The Heat won 105-100. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — The Heat knew they would be without center Hassan Whiteside against Portland. But guard Tyler Johnson was also unavailable.

Johnson missed Wednesday’s game against the Trail Blazers with a migraine. Johnson is in the middle of his best stretch of the season, as the sixth man is averaging 16.2 points on 59 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent shooting from 3-point range over his past six games.

As for Whiteside, Wednesday’s game against the Trail Blazers is the seventh consecutive contest he’s missed with a bone bruise on his left knee, and the 12th game he’s missed this season with the injury. Over the first 11 of those games, the Heat are 5-6 without their $98 million center.

Thursday marks two weeks since the Heat announced in a press release that Whiteside would miss one to two weeks as he goes through a rehab process that would include a strength and conditioning program to recover from the injury. While Spoelstra said Wednesday that Whiteside’s bone bruise is improving, he also added the one- to two-week timetable isn’t set in stone.

“There is no timetable,” Spoelstra said before Miami’s game against Portland. “Let’s make no assumptions about that. He’s doing a lot better. He’s been working out two, sometimes three, times per day. A lot of corrective work, a lot of lifting, a lot of conditioning.”

Spoelstra said Whiteside would be evaluated Wednesday night by team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick to determine if he’s ready to go through court work. Whiteside will then meet with Spoelstra and Heat athletic trainer Jay Sabol to figure out the next step in the rehab process.

“If not more than that,” Spoesltra said when asked if Whiteside will need to go through a full practice before making his return. “We’ll monitor him so he can get multiple days on the court. Whether or not that’s a full practice, I don’t know. But there’s going to have to be some stages of court work where he builds up.”

After Wednesday’s game, the Heat travel to take on the Hornets on Friday before returning home to face the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back set on Saturday.

Whiteside missed five games over a two-week period in October with a different bone bruise on his left knee, but said on Dec. 1 he “rushed” his return from that setback. The 28-year-old made it clear that he would take a more patient approach with the latest bone bruise, saying he’s going to wait until he’s “totally 100 percent” before returning.

Without Whiteside, the Heat have used a combination of Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo to fill in at center. Olynyk made his fourth consecutive start at the position Wednesday.

[Heat to gain trade flexibility this week — what does it mean?]

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