After Miami’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, veteran big man Tristan Thompson had some definitive words about who the Heat will need in order to make the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Appropriately, the player Thompson was talking about – Dion Waiters – had just made his long-awaited return to an NBA game after missing over a year due to an ankle injury.
Thompson, a former teammate of Waiters in Cleveland, reminded everyone just how important of a player Waiters can be.
“He’s a very talented wing player in our league,” said Thompson. “He’s very confident. He’s a Philly guy ’til the day he dies. I’ve always been a fan of Dion. I’m happy he got back out there, he’s healthy, back in shape. They’re going to need him down in Miami if they want to make a run at the playoffs because he brings a different dynamic for their team, kind of different than anyone else. He’s the kind of guy that if he gets going early, he can change the whole game. They’re lucky to have him.”
While he didn’t necessarily change the outcome of Wednesday’s 117-95 win, Waiters reminded fans how vital of a player he can be. Midway through the second quarter, he checked in for Miami for the first time since Dec. 22, 2017 and immediately made an impact. He assisted on a Derrick Jones Jr. 3-pointer before hitting a long 3-pointer of his own.
He finished with seven points, three assists, and two rebounds in 11 minutes.
Exactly what role Waiters plays on this current Heat team remains to be seen, as the team’s revamped rotation has won seven of its last 10 games. Six of those wins were without the 27-year-old on the court.