Storyline: Dion Waiters Injury

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Through his first five games he’s shot 33.3 percent and averaged 4.4 points after halftime. Before the break, he’s shot 48.6 percent and averaged 8.8 points. “I’ve always got that – like at the beginning of the game – I’ve always got that explosive first step,” Waiters said. “Even on one leg I’ve got that explosive first step. I’ve just got it. That ain’t really [the issue].” But “then,” he admits softly, “I’ll feel it.” The ankle tightens up. Usually he’ll tell trainor Jay Sabol when the pain becomes unbearable. But for the most part, Waiters tries to put mind over matter.

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Spoelstra again downplayed, but did not dismiss, the impact of the ankle issue. “He wouldn’t want me to make that excuse for him, and he won’t make that excuse,” Spoelstra said. “You have to adjust in this league. It’s not the first time that he has dealt with something. And just like the majority of the guys in the league, as the season goes on, you’re not feeling 100 percent and you’ve got to find different ways to get back to winning. You could see in some games it looks like he has the step and in some games he doesn’t. But his treatment is going really well. He’s getting better. He’s getting healthier. The pain and all that is clearing up. So he just has to stick with the process.”

The same left ankle that sidelined him for the final 13 games last season, when the Heat came up just short of a playoff berth. The same ankle that he said still was tender when he reported to training camp last month. This time, Waiters found himself back in the locker room getting re-taped during the third quarter of Wednesday night’s 116-109 season-opening loss to the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. “I didn’t sprain anything until I got here, three times,” Waiters said of Wednesday’s game, “It’s weird. Just guarding and trying to get through a screen, a guy kicked my foot and tweaked it a little bit. I’m not going to make it a big thing right now.”

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow looked good and showed no ill effects from their season-ending injuries last season in their first full practices back with the team Tuesday morning at Florida Atlantic University. “[Winslow has] been scrimmaging for a while. It was important for him to get those live reps. You would never be able to tell by his aggressiveness that he brought to this practice that he was coming off any kind of injury anywhere on his body. People felt his presence.”

Waiters, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal this summer, revealed at Heat Media Day Monday he still feels discomfort in his left ankle, which he badly sprained and cost him the final 13 games of the regular season. “It’s aching a little bit. But if I take a little Tylenol, I’ll be alright,” Waiters said Tuesday. “It’s going to be a process. But we know what we got to do, so it’s manageable. We just got to make sure we keep our eye on it and just keep getting treatment.”

There is still no timetable for Dion Waiters’ return, but the Heat are encouraged by the progress he’s making in Miami. Waiters did not travel with the team on it’s current three-game road trip, as he’s still recovering from a sprained left ankle he suffered on March 17 against the Timberwolves. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Waiters will miss the Heat’s final two games of the trip — Tuesday against the Pistons and Wednesday against the Knicks — as he continues to rehab the injury in Miami.

The Heat’s starting shooting guard, who was injured late in the first half of last Friday’s win over Minnesota when he landed awkwardly on the foot of T’Wolves forward Gorgui Dieng, said he’s been wearing low top sneakers for years and believes the injury would have happened to him regardless of his footwear. “That’s all I’ve been wearing my whole career,” said Waiters, who wears the low-top Kobe A.D. model by Nike. “It’s hard to adjust. Even if you go back to college, I wore low tops. I like low tops. Even though I play the way I play and attack the rim and things like that, these type of things happen if you have high tops on. It happens.”

Dragic said he just feels more comfortable in low tops. “Each player is different,” he said. “I wear in my career high tops, mid tops, low tops but the most comfortable that I feel is in low tops. I feel that I can move better. I can explode and everything. It’s maybe just in my head.” As for Waiters, Spoelstra said the swelling remains. “That will be normal,” he said. “Even when he came back and played from the last one he had swelling for a couple of weeks.”

Waiters said he hasn’t been able to put any weight on the ankle whatsoever and the swelling is bad enough that he thinks he’s going to request an MRI once he’s finally able to have one. He said he’s been working around the clock with Heat trainers to get the swelling down. “If I don’t like what’s going on or it’s not improving I’m going to get [an MRI],” said Waiters, who has a $3 million player option for next season he’s almost sure not to exercise because he could command much more money in the open market.

The Heat said X-rays on Waiters’ ankle were negative and coach Erik Spoelstra said there’s no timeline yet for when the team’s third-leading scorer and starting shooting guard will return. When Waiters sprained the same ankle last month in a win at Minnesota he missed three games. “I was hanging out with him a little bit in the training room,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a sprained ankle, same left ankle that he sprained in Minnesota. So I don’t know what his problem is with Minnesota, but he sprained it similar to the way he did last time. There’s no timeline on it. There’s no way to really tell until we get to the next day.”

Waiters played through his groin injury for four games before the Heat decided to give him time to recover to avoid it getting even worse. He missed his first game of the season Monday against the Celtics. “I didn’t decide anything. That’s what the staff thought was best for me,” Waiters said after Monday’s game of taking time off. “I’ve been playing with it. I guess they didn’t want it to get any worse. “It’s very disappointing. I hate to miss games. You can see I don’t do good missing games. It pisses me off. But I know it’s best for me.”
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November 23, 2017 | 2:19 am EST Update

League to fine Damian Lillard?

After voicing his displeasure, Lillard was well aware his criticism would draw the ire of the league office and perhaps result in a fine. But he didn’t seem to care. When his postgame interview was over, he turned to CJ McCollum at the locker next to him and offered the following: “Go ahead and fine me,” he said. “I’ve got the check ready to go.”
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Lillard scored 30 points, making 11 of 27 field goals, in the defeat. But despite his high volume of field goals, he attempted only three free throws, a fact that left him incredulous as he left Wells Fargo Center. “I got to the rim a lot,” Lillard said. “And I’m getting smacked in my head, smacked on my shooting hand when I’m going to the basket. Guys (are) knocking me to the ground every other play. Like hard. And (officials) know I’m trying to score. It’s impossible for me to shoot two or three free throws. It’s impossible. As much as I got to the rim and as much as they know that I’m trying to score, it’s impossible for me to get the (crap) beat out of me as often as I do.”
When asked if he felt he had earned the right to get the benefit of the doubt from officials at this stage of his career, Lillard scoffed. He said a foul is a foul, no matter who you are, and he simply wants officials to do their jobs. “I don’t want to look at it like, I’m this person or I’m that (so) you’re supposed to call these fouls,” he said. “I think a foul is a foul. I know it’s tough. They’ve got a tough job, man. But I’m not one of these guys out here trying to sell them on every call … I’m playing to score the ball. I ain’t trying to be out here hitting the ground every other play, because that’s not what I’m going out here trying to do. I’m not going to be falling out the air to get two free throws and hitting the ground the way I’m hitting the ground. I’m getting hit. I don’t want to keep doing it.”
The Sixers (10-7) scored the game’s first 16 points en route to their 101-81 decision Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The Blazers (10-8) posted season lows in total points and field-goal percentage (33.7). The Sixers allowed their lowest point total this season. “I thought our offense was a C-minus,” Brown said. “I thought our defense was an A, and we are looking for two As.” But he’s still going to cherish this victory. “I thought at times our offense was sloppy,” Brown said. “But we beat the fourth-best team in the West by 20 points. I’m greedy, but I ain’t stupid.”
Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Durant finished with 21 points and five rebounds. First, Durant and Westbrook appeared to exchange some words during the second quarter of OKC and Golden State’s first meeting of this season. After Westbrook forced a turnover, he was shown on the broadcast saying something as Durant walked away and laughed. Per reporters at the game, the Thunder guard made KD laugh by shouting or shaking his head “No” at the crowd.
Storyline: Durant-Westbrook Relationship
Late in the second quarter, Westbrook denied a post entry into Durant and the ball sailed out of bounds. Westbrook turned to the Warriors’ bench and yelled, “No!” Durant pointed at Westbrook while just smiling. Westbrook was then fouled on the other end by Draymond Green. Green didn’t like the call, and he began clapping in the vicinity of Westbrook, and the reigning MVP began clapping back at him. The two had a few words before Westbrook went to the foul line to take his shots.