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Heat Keeping Close Eye On Oden’s Progress

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 23: Greg Oden #20 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during an NBA preseason game on October 23,2013 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Layne Murdoch jr/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 23: Greg Oden #20 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during an NBA preseason game on October 23,2013 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Layne Murdoch jr/NBAE via Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat is hoping to avoid a four-game losing streak when the team plays the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night. One of the biggest questions in the game will be the status of center Greg Oden.

The former number one pick made his regular season debut Wednesday night and responded with six points in eight minutes of action. Oden has battled severe knee problems in the past and his game on Wednesday was the first game he had played in more than four years.

According to Oden, the knee didn’t swell after playing in the loss to the Wizards.

“It’s fine,” Oden told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. “No swelling. A little sore, as usual, but it’s nothing I can’t manager. It always gets sore after I work out, so it’s nothing different than that.”

According to the Herald, the Heat has a very specific plan for how Oden will continue to mount his comeback. It’s believed the plan is to focus on getting Oden healthy for the stretch run in the playoffs this year.

Oden has daily evaluations that have to be passed before he is allowed on the court, according to the Herald. One test involves measuring the swelling in Oden’s knees after he plays. Coach Erik Spoelstra said much of the “plan” involves strength training, hip strengthening work, and conditioning.

The Heat hope the massive seven-foot center can get healthy enough to contribute during the playoffs. Oden’s big body and his rebounding/shot-blocking prowess would be perfect for the Heat to use against the Indiana Pacers or any other team with a quality big man.

But the Heat is also realistic about Oden. It’s too early to declare him back, but the simple fact that he is even on the court is a testament to his work ethic and his perseverance.

“They’ve all been cool with me, getting out and playing,” Oden said. “They let me and the staff kind of take our time and make sure I was ready.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)

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