Heat center Hassan Whiteside expected to return tonight against the Bulls

Heat center Hassan Whiteside seats next to assistant coach Juwan Howard during the Pacers game this season. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — It looks like Hassan Whiteside is ready to make his return.

Whiteside went through the full shootaround and will warm up with the intention to play in Wednesday’s home game against the Bulls. Point guard Goran Dragic (illness) also is expected to play.

Whiteside has been moving closer to a return over the past few days.

The Heat center worked through some 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills Tuesday, although Spoelstra would not say if it classified as contact work. Whiteside also went through the full shootaround in advance of Monday’s game against Minnesota and participated in a full non-contact workout Sunday.

The Heat have posted a 2-3 record without Whiteside and have struggled to stop teams from scoring in the paint with Miami allowing the fifth-most paint points in the league at 49.7 per game this season. The Heat also entered Tuesday ranked 24th in the league with a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 107.6.

Whiteside has played in just one of the Heat’s first six games this season. The 28-year-old recorded 26 points and 22 rebounds in a season-opening loss to the Magic.

Jordan Mickey started the first two games Whiteside missed, and rookie Bam Adebayo has started the past three games in his place.

Wednesday’s matchup against the Bulls marks the end of the Heat’s season-long six-game homestand before they embark on a season-long six-game road trip that begins Friday against the Nuggets.

[Turnovers are an issue, but Erik Spoelstra wants the Heat to stay ‘aggressive’ and not to play ‘passively’]

[Mailbag: Should Miami Heat make a play for disgruntled Suns guard Eric Bledsoe?]

[Has rookie Bam Adebayo done enough to earn consistent playing time when Hassan Whiteside returns?]

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