The red-hot Miami Heat, winners of 20 of their last 24 games entering Sunday night's matchup against the Indiana Pacers, were slowed down by Paul George and company in Indianapolis, falling 102-98 to remain a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
However, the Heat can take solace in the fact that they weren't at full strength against the Pacers, as star point guard Goran Dragic had to sit out Sunday's contest.
The reason for Dragic's absence? A scary-looking eye injury that he suffered during a win against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.
As you can see in the gruesome photo below, Dragic's right eye is completely swollen shut, which would obviously cause problems for an NBA point guard:
Dragic's depth perception at the moment is probably not what you need to be able to play at an NBA level, so the Heat held him out of Sunday's loss as a precaution.
Dragic told ESPN.com that he's surprised how bad the injury looks, considering it doesn't hurt at all and there's no damage to the eye itself:
"I cannot even see in the right eye," Dragic said Sunday. "I didn't imagine it was going to be so bad. The right eye is completely closed. The doctor checked the eye last night. He said the eye is fine. Just swelling. We will do treatment [to get some] swelling down. There's just pressure. No pain."
Indeed, Dragic will need plenty of ice in order to get the swelling down so he's able to play in Miami's next game on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.
At 32-35 and one game out of the playoff race, the Heat need their leader back on the court as soon as possible if they're going to overtake the Bucks while simultaneously holding off the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets in a scramble for the eighth and final spot.
Dragic is averaging 20.6 points, 6.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game for the Heat this season. He's shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and knocking down 42.2 percent of his three-point attempts.
As the Heat continue their meteoric rise from the cellar of the Eastern Conference, getting Dragic back quickly is a top priority. Playing as well as they've been playing lately, it seems as though a sustained injury to Dragic, Dion Waiters or Hassan Whiteside is the only thing that could slow down Miami's momentum and keep them from advancing to next month's playoffs.