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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — During Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors, both teams saw their starting center leave the game due to injury.
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the rest of the series against the Heat with a sprained right ankle.
Valanciunas was injured in the third quarter of Toronto’s win in Game 3.
X-rays did not show any fractures, but the team ruled him out for the rest of the series after more evaluation Sunday.
Valanciunas has averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds in these playoffs. He had a double-double in all three games against the Heat.
Toronto outscored Miami by 41 points when Valanciunas was on the floor in the first three games. The Heat have outscored the Raptors by 39 when he hasn’t been on the court.
The announcement came shortly after Miami announced center Hassan Whiteside is day-to-day with a sprained knee ligament.
Whiteside had an MRI which revealed a sprain in his MCL, but he could still return at any point during the series.
Toronto holds a two games to one series lead with Game 4 coming up on Monday night in Miami.
And now the waiting game begins to see if Whiteside returns at any point in the series.
“We can’t relax at all, honestly,” said Toronto’s DeMar 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.”
If Whiteside is lost, it would mean the Heat have 14 feet of key players sidelined for the rest of this series. All-Star forward Chris Bosh hasn’t played since he was diagnosed with another blood clot in February, and after months of trying to find a solution, he and the Heat finally announced last week that his season is officially over.
Whiteside led the NBA in blocked shots this season, averaging 3.7 per game on his way to finishing third in the voting for defensive player of the year. He averaged 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds in the regular season on 61 percent shooting, then 12 points and 10.9 rebounds in the playoffs on 68 percent shooting.
He becomes a free agent July 1, and the $981,000 salary he made this season will seem like pocket change going forward.
Even with this injury, Whiteside will likely get enormous contract offers this summer — ones that could top $20 million a season, set to put him in the echelon of the NBA’s highest-paid players.
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