It’s ‘back to the drawing board’ for Heat’s Duncan Robinson, who again is sidelined by back ailment

ATLANTA — The question with Duncan Robinson as he spoke Tuesday morning at State Farm Arena was not as much about whether he would be back before the regular season ends Sunday for the Miami Heat, but rather whether he can make it back for the postseason.

After sitting for five games with what has been listed as “left facet syndrome” and then returning with five uneven performances, the sixth-year guard again is out of the mix, sidelined for Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.

“I just wanted to be back out there and be available in some capacity,” Robinson said of his aborted comeback. “Obviously, just wasn’t able to fully feel like myself, to be myself. And then kind of also exacerbated it a little bit, which we kind of knew going in was a potential risk, but wanted to at least go down swinging to some extent.

“But now, unfortunately, not necessarily back to ground zero with it, but just got to take a step back and kind of calm it down again.”

After a scoreless performance when he played only 12 minutes in Sunday night’s critical road loss to the Indiana Pacers, Robinson was downgraded by the team Monday night.

Robinson returned in the March 31 road victory over the Washington Wizards as a starter.

But in his five games back through Sunday’s loss, when he played only 4:30 in the second half, he had shot only 8 of 28 from the field and 6 of 26 on 3-pointers, including Sunday’s 0 for 4, with all of those attempts on 3-pointers. Despite the back issue, Robinson had been reinserted with 6.6 seconds left in Indiana with the Heat down three in what turned into a 117-115 loss.

“I’m trying to just take it day by day right now and to keep an open mind to just how I feel and everything,” he said when asked about a potential timetable. “But the most important thing is just trying to get to a point where I can be available to help us in any capacity, whatever that looks like going forward.”

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The play-in round begins next Tuesday, with the playoffs opening April 20.

“It’s really tricky man,” Robinson said of the balance between pushing to return and getting himself right. “Obviously these last couple was a tricky line between wanting to be out there, but then also not really helping us in any capability, because I wasn’t really feeling like myself.

“So moving forward, it’s just going to try to get to a point where I can just be available. And then what it looks like night to night? We’ll see.”

While foot pain eventually led to teammate Tyler Herro taking an injection that had him inactive for a week and then rehabilitating for two more before his return last week, Robinson said his options already have been scoured.

“We’ve kind of utilized every treatment course that there is to utilize, and right now we’re kind of back to the drawing board on how we can approach it,” he said. “In terms of really getting it right, it’s hard to say. There’s a little bit of ambiguity there. I don’t know, that’s why we’re trying to keep an open mind and keep it day by day, without divulging too much about my health to the public.

“Anything is possible. Like I said, I’m doing everything I can in the 24 hours every day to just to try to be available. I don’t have a definitive answer for you in terms of that. I’m trying to stay optimistic, but we’ll see what it feels like.”

Until this back issue, Robinson had missed only two games this season due to injury, when he sat out a pair of November losses with a sprained right thumb. He also missed three games from Jan. 31-Feb. 4 in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

In many ways, the back pain is a touchy area.

“I want to be aware of not divulging too much about my health,” he said. “I think it’s probably easier to say I wasn’t able to feel like myself.

“And obviously I’m not the most athletic player out there, so I need . . . the majority of my ability to be able to move and be explosive within my capabilities, and was not able to do that. I think that was probably apparent to anybody that was watching the game.”

And, so, a waiting game.

“He’s going to do everything he has to do in the training room,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They’ve got a good program. He’s been awesome. But his body will let us know and time will tell. You could see the other night, in particular in Indiana, he just did not have the mobility that you’re accustomed to seeing.

“So we’ll recalibrate and see how he feels day to day.”