We'll have a lot of Heat on Saturday, but here's what Hassan Whiteside had to say tonight in speaking for the first time since a Sunday MRI revealed a sprained MCL in his right knee:
• Any chance he plays in Game 7? "No."
• Is he traveling to Toronto? "Yes." (Because Miami will fly directly to Cleveland if it wins, that will allow him to be with the team in Cleveland should the Heat advance, and should he be ready to play by then.)
• When is a realistic target date to return if Miami wins Sunday? Game 1 in Cleveland? Game 2? "I can't really put a measurement on it. It just really depends on what the doctors say and how everything is feeling down there. I don't really want to make anything worse."
• On how the knee feels: "It's getting better. Each day passes, I'm feeling better. I'm just kind of rehabbing and getting better each day. I don't really have a time period for you but just getting better."
• What about the stability test he needs to take to gauge his progress? "No, I don't know when that test is coming up, but I'm just going to keep icing. Each day, I keep doing more and more stuff towards basketball."
• His thoughts on his team: "D-Wade is just dominating the series. Lu is dominating the series. Goran is playing really well, he's dominating. We have a lot of talented guys on this team. They played amazing. Goran got in the paint a lot and made it tough on those guys. D-Wade did D-Wade stuff."
By the way, the Raptors reiterated that their center, Jonas Valanciunas, is out of Game 7.
Meanwhile, here's the full Eastern Finals schedule:
Cleveland vs. Toronto/OR/Miami
Game 1 – Tue May 17 Toronto/Miami at Cleveland 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
Game 2 – Thu May 19 Toronto/Miami at Cleveland 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
Game 3 – Sat May 21 Cleveland at Toronto/Miami 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
Game 4 – Mon May 23 Cleveland at Toronto/Miami 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
Game 5 * Wed May 25 Toronto/Miami at Cleveland 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
Game 6 * Fri May 27 Cleveland at Toronto/Miami 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
Game 7 * Sun May 29 Toronto/Miami at Cleveland 8:30PM 8:30PM ESPN/R
(See below for more Heat notes and check back here Saturday for more Heat.)
• The Dolphins are planning to sign veteran defensive end Jason Jones, according to a league source.
Jones later told ESPN's Josina Anderson that he plans to sign with Miami on Monday.
He gives the Dolphins four starting-caliber defensive ends: Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Jones and Andre Branch.
Jones visited the Dolphins twice in the past two months, but the Dolphins wanted to hold off on signing him until after May 12, when it would not affect how many compensatory draft picks Miami will get in next year's draft.
Jones, 29, started 15 games for Detroit last season and had 31 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus rated him the league’s 43rd best edge defender last season.
He had five sacks for Detroit as a starter in 2014.
Jones has played eight NFL seasons: four in Tennessee, one in Seattle and three in Detroit. He has 28 career sacks, 24 passes defended and 10 forced fumbles.
A second-round pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2008, Jones also visited the Dallas Cowboys last month.
The Dolphins have been planning to go into the season with Mario Williams starting at one defensive end spot and Cameron Wake and Andre Branch likely sharing time at the other, with Branch playing a lot on run-heavy downs to conserve Wake’s energy.
Wake is coming off an Achilles’ injury and the Dolphins say he is expected to be ready to play by Week 1.
Jones’ signing could change the dynamics and create competition with Branch for the defensive end role, opposite Williams, in base defense.
The Dolphins also have Chris McCain, Terrence Fede and CFL import Cleyon Laing at defensive end.
And Dion Jordan is eligible for reinstatement after a one-year suspension, with his agent saying on Twitter that he could be comeback player of the year.
The Dolphins entered the day with $18 million in cap space.
• Luol Deng says he's playing tonight, despite a sprained wrist. Deng said the wrist has improved in the past day and he feels good. The Raptors say DeMarre Carroll (wrist) also is expected to play.
• The Heat is starting a small lineup, with Justise Winslow at center, Deng and Joe Johnson at forward, and Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic at guard.
• Heat fans who have been imploring Josh McRoberts to shoot more the past two seasons might be surprised to know that McRoberts said no Heat teammates or coaches have ever told him that.
They also might be surprised by this: McRoberts was sixth among all power forwards in three-point attempts for Charlotte two years ago (105) and seventh in attempts (291).
Conversely, in his two seasons with the Heat, McRoberts had only 201 field goal attempts combined (twos and threes).
Most of that is a function of reduced playing time, largely the byproduct of knee injuries in each of his first two seasons with the Heat. After appearing in only 59 games combined in his first two years here, McRoberts has become a bigger factor in postseason, with nine appearances in the Heat’s 12 games, including all three games that Hassan Whiteside missed.
He entered Game 6 having attempted only 19 shots overall in postseason (making seven) and 0 for 5 on threes. But he has contributed in other ways, including defensively (five steals and five blocks entering Friday).
Erik Spoelstra said last month that the Heat “always becomes a smarter team” when he’s on the floor. Why so?
“For the center position, he can pass extremely well,” Spoelstra said. “I like the things he gives us. And guys like playing with him. That's a big compliment. I trust his decision making. He's not going to be a guy who's aggressive like Dwyane [Wade]. That's not his skill set. But he makes the right plays. And he puts pressure on the defense in a different way.”
McRoberts has taken 10.8 shots per 48 minutes in his two seasons with the Heat, not substantially different than the 11.5 per 48 in his final season with Charlotte. That figure has dropped to 9.1 in postseason, entering Friday.
“There are certain times I can be more aggressive but for the most part I'm doing what I need to do to help us put the ball where it needs to go,” he said.
After making 36.1 percent of his three-point attempts in his final year with the Hornets, he hit only 12 for 49 this season (24.5 percent).
But his playoff defensive metrics have been outstanding. When McRoberts is in the game, opponents have shot only 44.2 percent from less than five feet this postseason, compared with 53.5 percent when Hassan Whiteside is in the game. He had a particularly impressive block of Jonas Valanciunas in Game 3.
“Physically, I'm not able to do some of the things Whiteside is able to do,” he said. “I'm not intimidating anybody down there, I don't think. It's just being in the right spot.”
Whether he returns for the final three seasons of his contract is very much in question. Though he can be asset when he’s at his best, it would not be the least bit surprising if the Heat explores trading him this offseason to free up an additional $5.8 million in cap space this summer.
Spoelstra said there has been no change in Whiteside’s status, six days after sustaining a sprained MCL in his right knee. He continues to be limited to rest and treatment, with no return considered imminent.
• Best visual of the Heat’s morning shootaround? Dwyane Wade wearing a “Father Prime” hat, having embraced his newest nickname.
• Entering Game 6, DeMar DeRozan was shooting 31.4 percent when guarded by Luol Deng, and 42.6 percent against everyone else. “He's long, he's active,” DeRozan said. “He plays the passing lanes well.”
• Even though local rights-holders aren’t permitted to broadcast games after the first round, Heat TV voice Eric Reid is doing them anyway. At the Heat’s request, he calls every postseason game from the arena, so that his call can be available for Heat postseason video and archival material.
“It’s enjoyable; I’m getting to call these great games,” he said. “We started with the 2005 Heat-Pistons conference finals. They’re woven into the fabric of the Heat’s historical record.”
Please click here for a lot more Heat, Dolphins, Marlins and some UM news today.