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Miami Heat

NBA Finals 2020: Expert medical analysis on Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic's torn plantar fascia

The Miami Heat suffered a huge loss in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals.

With 4:31 remaining in the second quarter, Heat guard Goran Dragic exited the game with a left foot injury. While he was initially considered to be doubtful to return, Dragic was eventually ruled out of the rest of the game, and it was later reported that he had suffered a tear of the left plantar fascia.

Dragic's status for the remainder of the series is now up in the air. He missed Games 2 and 3, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported after Game 1 that he hasn't yet been ruled out for the rest of the Finals.

Ahead of Game 4, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that Dragic plans to warm up in an attempt to play.

Dragic has been instrumental to Miami's success in the playoffs. His 19.9 points per game rank second behind Jimmy Butler for most on the team, and he's tied with Butler and Bam Adebayo for the highest assist average (4.6). The Heat have been a different team with him in the lineup, outscoring their opponent by 5.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the court as opposed to being outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench.

Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Playoffs
Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Net Rating
With Dragic on the court 111.1 105.3 +5.8
With Dragic on the bench 108.0 111.9 -3.9

To get a better understanding of Dragic's injury, I reached out to our medical expert, orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Michael S. George of the KSF Orthopaedic Center in Houston, Texas.

What is the plantar fascia?

The plantar fascia is the thick soft tissue band that runs from the bottom of the heel into each of the five toes. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot in a way similar to a bowstring, with the plantar fascia being the string and the bones of the foot being the bow.

How serious is a plantar fascia tear?

Tears of the plantar fascia can range from mild partial tears to severe complete tears. The treatment and prognosis depend on the severity of the injury, and it is unclear how severe Dragic's injury is.

Generally, complete tears are uncommon and very painful and would require a lengthy period of rest to recover. Healing of the plantar fascia is critical to prevent the arch of the foot from collapsing.

Partial tears are much more common than complete tears. The treatment of partial tears is aimed at reducing the inflammation and resting it as needed. Steroid injections are an option for partial tears to reduce inflammation, but they may also increase the risk of the tear worsening to a complete tear.

Is it an injury an athlete can play through?

There are numerous previous examples of athletes with plantar fascia tears who continued to play, albeit possibly limited by the injury.

In 2013, Joe Johnson suffered a partial tear in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs and received treatments that allowed him to play in every game of the series, although his statistics declined significantly after the injury.

In 2009, Eli Manning of the New York Giants suffered a similar injury in Week 4 of the regular season and did not have to miss any games.

What does it mean for Dragic?

How this injury affects Dragic will depend on the severity of the injury and how he responds to treatments, but it is still possible that he would respond well and be able to play again in the series.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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