Throughout the Miami Heat’s first three games this season, the Heat haven’t had three key contributors — Wayne Ellington, James Johnson and Justise Winslow (Miami also hasn’t had Dion Waiters, but he hasn’t played an NBA game since Dec. 22, 2017). And the Heat had some good news come out of their practice today.
INJURY UPDATE: James Johnson (hernia) was a full participant in today’s practice.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 22, 2018
Coach Spo said both Justise Winslow (hamstring) and Wayne Ellington (foot) did most of their work off to the side with the intent to participate in tomorrow’s practice.
This is good news — Johnson and Winslow can operate as point-forwards and defensive stalwarts, and Ellington is the Heat’s best 3-point shooter. Winslow and Ellington may not be ready for Wednesday’s home game against the New York Knicks, but Johnson may be.
The problem? Three other players missed practice today.
Hassan Whiteside (groin), Derrick Jones, Jr. (foot) & Udonis Haslem (illness) all missed today’s practice.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 22, 2018
Now, Derrick Jones Jr.’s absence wouldn’t hurt as much if Johnson and/or Winslow can play Wednesday. Udonis Haslem is more of a mentor to young players — and he hasn’t played yet this season — so his illness won’t affect Miami’s rotation. And a Whiteside injury would give more playing time to Bam Adebayo, who appears to be a franchise cornerstone.
But this ongoing injury shuffle could present a problem for Erik Spoelstra, who will have to continue playing with lineups and build chemistry throughout the season. Let’s hope the Heat players all get healthy so they can operate at full strength.