MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade was originally in the starting lineup for Monday’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Hawks. But then Wade decided he needed the night off to rest his body.
“He (Head Coach Erik Spoelstra) wants me to do what’s best for my body,” Wade said. “I’ve been practicing very hard, going very hard. I could play, but I just think it’s smarter that in consecutive days of going so hard, just be smart today, rest a little bit, let my legs recover.”
For the Heat, keeping Wade out of the preseason is not a big deal. Even missing games in the first half of the season isn’t a big issue for Wade. It’s all about being ready for the stretch run into the playoffs and possibly another NBA Finals appearance.
Wade dealt with an array of problems in the final months of last season, mainly a bone bruise and tendinitis in his right knee. He also had to have his left knee drained before playing in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Monday’s decision, he said, was done solely with maintenance in mind. Wade played in the team’s scrimmage on Sunday night and worked out again in the morning before the exhibition opener.
“I’ve worked so hard and I’m still working hard,” Wade said. “When you put work in you want to see some results, so coming to training camp and seeing the results of the work I’ve put in, working with Tim (Grover, his longtime trainer) all summer, that part was good. But outside of that, it’s a long season and I want to stay healthy for the majority of the season and the playoffs. I’ve got a bigger picture in mind.”
Spoelstra has raved several times since camp opened about Wade’s current level of fitness, and James said Monday that Wade has been one of the most impressive players in his mind since the team started its formal workouts this season.
James said the last time he saw Wade look this good physically was in the team’s 2010 training camp.
“Seeing his explosiveness, his quickness, lateral quickness, everything, he looks healthy, feels healthy and he shows it more than anything on his face when he’s healthy,” James said. “That’s a great sign.”
Wade is expected to return to practice on Tuesday and may play Thursday night against the Detroit Pistons. The Heat is also hoping to get preseason action for Michael Beasley, Chris Andersen, and Udonis Haslem, who all missed the opening game.
The Heat is hoping to get their first look at center Greg Oden, who hasn’t played in a few years due to knee injuries. While the Heat have expectations for Oden, they are not going to rush him back on the field, instead trying to keep him healthy for when they will need him the most in the playoffs.
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