Miami forward Derrick Jones Jr. was stretchered off in a neck brace after a scary collision in the Heat’s 109-92 loss to Indiana on Friday — a preview of their upcoming NBA playoff matchup.
With top players from both teams sitting out in anticipation of the first-round playoff series next week in the NBA’s quarantine bubble at Orlando, Doug McDermott led the Pacers with 23 points and point guard Malcom Brogdon added 16.
Rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro scored 23 and 16 points respectively for the Heat, who saw reserve forward Jones — winner of All-Star weekend’s slam dunk contest in February — hit the court hard after crashing into Indiana’s 2.11m, 113kg Georgian center Goga Bitadze as he tried to round a screen.
Jones was on the floor for several minutes before he was placed on a stretcher with a neck brace.
Miami coach Erick Spoelstra said Jones would undergo further tests to determine the extent of shoulder and neck injuries, but in a positive sign was not reporting numbness in his extremities.
With the win on the final day of the NBA’s regular season, Indiana snatched the fourth seed in the East from the Heat.
The two teams were already locked into a first-round encounter as the fourth and fifth seeds, and home court advantage for the higher seed carries little importance since the series will be played on the campus at Disney World with no fans in attendance as the league seeks to crown a champion after a coronavirus hiatus of more than four months.
Reigning champions Toronto, the second seeds in the East, closed out the regular season with a 117-109 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Norman Powell led the Raptors with 15 points and Spanish big man Marc Gasol added two points for Toronto, who also opted to rest stars Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby also missed the game, with Raptors coach Nick Nurse saying both were still battling knee injuries.
Nuggets stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray played just 10 minutes apiece, Jokic scoring two points and Murray 11 with reserve point guard Monte Morris scoring 16.