Heat’s Whiteside to Miss Home Opener

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Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside will miss Saturday’s home opener due to a bone bruise in his left knee.

Whiteside injured the knee on Wednesday when he made contact with Orlando Magic star Nikola Vucevic. Whiteside stayed in that game despite the injury, but will rest it for at least one contest. In that season opening game, Whiteside ended up with 26 points and 22 rebounds.

Even with Whiteside’s big night, the Heat lost to the Magic. Beating the Indiana Pacers without Whiteside on Saturday may not be an easy task. Even though Miami has an arguably better roster on paper, Whiteside’s absence will be felt on both offense and defense.

Miami will have a decision to make before tip-off with Whiteside available. The Heat will need to either start first-round pick Bam Adebayo or play with a smaller lineup. The Heat had success with a smaller group on the court in the second half of 2016-17, when Justise Winslow was out of action. James Johnson would likely slide into the starting lineup if Miami goes forward without a true center on the court.

Dion Waiters is battling a knee problem himself, but is expected to suit up on Saturday. Waiters headed to the locker room during Wednesday’s game and has missed some practice time since. In the loss to Orlando, Waiters scored 15 points and picked up for assists. The veteran missed significant time last season and the Heat struggled at times without Waiters on the cort.

The Pacers will also be without their starting center in Saturday’s game. Myles Turner is battling a concussion and a sore neck, following a big effort in Indiana’s season opening game. Without Turner, the Pacers will likely look to Al Jefferson and Domantas Sabonis for extra minutes.

Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m.

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