- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

MIAMI (AP) - Heat center Hassan Whiteside was ruled out of Monday’s Game 4 of Miami’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Toronto Raptors because of a sprained ligament in his right knee.

The decision was not a surprise, though the Heat had been listing Whiteside as questionable even after an MRI performed on Sunday showed damage to his medial collateral ligament. Whiteside was hurt Saturday in Miami’s Game 3 loss to the Raptors.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team is still relieved that Whiteside’s injury was not worse.

“It’s a non-surgery option, which I think is obviously the best option,” Spoelstra said after Miami’s shootaround practice on Monday.

No determination has been made about Whiteside’s availability for Game 5 in Toronto on Wednesday.

Toronto will also be without its center for Game 4. The Raptors said on Sunday that Jonas Valanciunas will miss the remainder of the series with a sprained right ankle.

Valanciunas was with the team for its shootaround practice Monday in a walking boot.

“I have faith in my teammates and they’re doing a great job, I think, and I’m going to be cheering,” Valanciunas said. “I’m going to be doing everything I can do to support them. Hopefully, they’re going to win this series - and next series, I’ll be helping them.”

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. 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.

Valanciunas has averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds in these this year’s playoffs and had a double-double in each of the first three games of the Toronto-Miami series. He said he was already seeing some improvement after plenty of treatment on Sunday.

“Your friend is ice,” Valanciunas said.

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