With the stretch run about to hit following the All-Star break, the Miami Heat are gaining two crucial reinforcements: per multiple reports, Goran Dragic and Derrick Jones Jr. are on their way back to the rotation, though likely under a minutes restriction.
However, coach Erik Spoelstra told the media on Thursday he is "not necessarily planning on playing" either of the players tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers (7 ET, NBA League Pass).
Spoelstra says he is “not necessarily planning on playing” Dragic and Jones tonight.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 21, 2019
Spoelstra said not necessarily planning on playing Dragic and Jones tonight— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) February 21, 2019
Both players practiced full-contact 5-on-5 Wednesday and are available for tonight's game. Dragic has played in only two of Miami’s last 41 games, and underwent surgery to clean out his right knee in December. Jones got bone bruises in his right knee after a fall in a game at New York last month.
With Dragic out, Justice Winslow assumed the bulk of the ball-handling, and stands to have his immediate role impacted the most. Dragic has commanded the offense whenever healthy, and Winslow will need to readjust to more off-ball action.
“The whole me-Goran point guard thing, I’m not too worried about it,” Winslow said. “Goran, he’s established himself in this league in that role. You know, obviously, there have been times in his career where he’s been off the ball, as well, still being in the point guard role but off the ball.
Jones was originally expected to be out for at least a few more weeks.
“Oh, to be young, and it could have been a lot worse,” Spoelstra said of Jones’ faster-than-expected recovery. “One, the youth played a factor. Two, the work that he’d been putting in behind the scenes, developing his body, strengthening his legs for the first time in his life.
Dragic, an All-Star last season, was averaging 15.3 points and 4.9 assists before surgery. Jones is averaging 7.4 points this season.
Miami (26-30) currently ranks ninth in the Eastern Conference.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.