The Miami Heat have confirmed that center Hassan Whiteside has suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee following an MRI scan on Sunday.
The big man injured the knee after landing awkwardly going for an offensive rebound in the second quarter of game three in the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.
According to the Heat, Whiteside is listed as day-to-day but with Steph Curry missing the last few weeks with the same injury, it's unlikely that the center returns at all for this series and could miss several games of the conference finals if the South Beach outfit get there.
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"He had an MRI today that went about as well as could be expected," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Where my mind was, where Hassan's mind was leaving this building [Saturday night], that's about the best news that we can have. He's just going to be doing treatment and a lot of rest."
The injury is a huge blow to Spoelstra and his team, especially after the announcement last week that Chris Bosh will not be playing any part in this postseason due to his blood clot issues.
The injury to Whiteside, however, doesn't give the Raptors the advantage they would've hoped for as they have lost their center Jonas Valanciunas for the remainder of the series with an ankle sprain suffered in the same game.
"It's unfortunate," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said about the health problems affecting both teams. "When it comes to injuries, it's not always about who's the best team; it's always about who's the healthiest team and what impact injuries make on a team. There's nothing you can do.
"It'll be a different game without Hassan, but we have to figure out a game that's successful for us to get a win. There are no excuses from our side. We lost an important piece to our team. But we have to find another important piece to step up."
The loss of Whiteside will make it more difficult for the Heat to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the series after a home loss on Saturday saw them relinquish the home court advantage they gained in Toronto.
As Miami's key rim protector and the best shot blocker in the league, Whiteside's injury will affect the team greatly particularly on the defensive end.
Without the 26-year-old's presence in the paint, it'll give players like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry the confidence to drive to the basket instead of settling for jump shots. DeRozan, though, will not take anything for granted.
''We can't relax at all, honestly,'' said DeRozan, when asked after Game 3 how the potential loss of Whiteside could affect the remainder of the series. ''They've got a lot of veterans on this team who can step up and have been in these type of situations. So we can't relax or think that we're going to have it easier. We still have to take it with the same approach.''
As an unrestricted free agent this summer, Whiteside - who was named third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting - will hope his injury will not affect his chances of earning a max contract with big offers expected to come his way from multiple teams across the league with huge cap space.
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat will not want to think too much about that at this stage, however, and will instead hope this isn't the last time they've seen their shot-blocking machine in a Heat uniform.