MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat don’t put a lot of weight into the regular season, but Heat fans may be starting to sweat a little bit as superstar Dwyane Wade can’t stay on the court and the team looks almost disinterested.
Make no mistake, if the Heat play to their ability, there’s not a team in the NBA that can stop them. But a lot of that starts with Wade, who has now missed 12 games this season to rest his knees, including the last three in a row.
“It’s tough,” Heat star LeBron James said of Wade. “We have a team built on chemistry, built on rhythm. With so many of the guys being in and out, and the concern with D-Wade, it’s been tough on all of us. We’ve got to go in with the mindset sometimes that he’s not playing, as opposed to: Is he playing?”
Considering Wade is considered one of the keys to keeping James in Miami after this season, that’s a little disconcerting to Heat fans. Wade has missed so much time this year while trying to recover from shock-wave therapy on his right kneecap that was bruised last spring.
When Wade is on the court, Miami is almost unstoppable. He hasn’t played since last Friday when he struggled to score just eight points in 25 minutes.
Wade’s program is being described as a proactive approach to getting him healthy for the stretch run of the season and into the playoffs. If Wade can come in and play at his elite level throughout the playoffs, Miami might be able to start planning another parade over the summer.
But that’s a big if as the NBA nears the All-Star break. Wade has averaged 18.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in roughly 33.3 minutes per game when he has been on the court this season.
“It’s just part of the process; you can’t predict it,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told ESPN. “You’re going to have some good days and some days where you don’t feel great. What we try to do is not predetermine or have expectations about it. We know as long as we stick to the routine, he should get better, quicker and stronger.”
Wade’s health will be the overriding storyline for the rest of the season as the Heat tries to capture a third consecutive NBA title. Heading into the offseason, his health will also likely be the huge storyline of whether the Heat retain LeBron and Chris Bosh, or if a rebuild will be in order.
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