Dragic believes knee is ready for long run
Goran Dragic says taking extra time to allow his for the Heat going forward.
PHOENIX — As he prepared to return for a second time from a sore right knee, Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic said Friday that he believes he got it right this time.
“I had to battle myself, because I wanted to be there,” Dragic said of missing eight consecutive games before rejoining the team for the six-game trip that opened Friday night against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “The knee just didn’t allow it to. There was a little bit of frustration, but the only thing that I could control was to do fitness every day, try to do everything that the staff was saying. And finally the time came that I could come back.”
Dragic missed two games in early November with pain in the knee before coming back with an 0-for-7, scoreless outing in a home loss to the Washington Wizards.
This time he had the knee drained two weeks ago and then took a methodical approach in working his way back, with the Heat 3-5 in his absence.
“It was frustrating,” he said of being out since Nov. 18. “Every time when I did something, it swelled up. But finally it’s been calming down. I practiced two, three days straight. The knee reaction was good.”
Dragic expects a minutes restriction, either one formally set or one determined through the course of games, with the game against the Suns opening a back-to-back set that concludes Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
“Probably just like how I’m going to feel through the game, and we’ll just communicate how it’s going to go. I’m going to be winded a little bit,” he said.
“When you have problems with the knee, you cannot do much. I tried to do my treatment. My focus was on that, and then it was starting to feel better. I tried to do conditioning. I’m still not there, but I
Heat at Clippers
Scouting report: Radio: think it’s good enough.”
He said the change in approach makes this comeback attempt more encouraging.
“I was out for eight games, so I did everything that was in my power and took the time,” he said. “The training staff really helped me with that. That game, I didn’t even have an opportunity to practice and now I practiced three or four times with the team.”
Still short: The constant for the Heat has been entering games shorthanded, this time with Hassan Whiteside and Wayne Ellington away from the team for personal reasons.
“We’ll have enough to play, that’s the most important thing,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have enough to get the job done. That’s where we are as a team. We have to find a way to get it done.”
Spoelstra said there is no expectation of secondyear center Bam Adebayo being Whiteside, who is awaiting the birth of his first child.
“We’ve played without him,” Spoelstra said of Whiteside. “So we have enough. It’s about getting it done, regardless of who’s
here. Bam is his own player. He’s finding a way to impact on both sides of the floor. That’s all we ask.”
Spoelstra said the goal remains to play Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk together, with the two centers having thrived in the same lineup combinations.
“They’ll still be able to play together. There’s enough minutes,” he said. “They’ve been playing very well together. The second unit has been playing well. They’ve been impacting the game in a positive way.”
Reunion time: Friday’s game brought Dragic back together with first-year Suns coach Igor Kokoskov, who helped coach Dragic and the Slovenian national team to the EuroBasket 2017 championship and had been a Suns developmental coach during part of Dragic’s time in Phoenix.
“Especially the early stages of my NBA career, he and Dan Majerle, I was working with those two guys a lot,” Dragic said. “I didn’t play a lot in the first season, so I had to spend a lot of time developing my game. So all the credit goes to those guys and to Alvin Gentry, too. They helped me a lot.”
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right knee to heal should pay dividends