INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dwayne Wade looks as though he’s ready to play Wednesday night at Indiana.
Ray Allen may miss out on one of the biggest games of the NBA season.
After a morning shootaround in Indianapolis, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said final decisions on both players would not be made until shortly before the Heat-Pacers game begins.
“Dwyane went through shootaround and I’ll let you know tonight,” Spoelstra said.
Wade has missed 19 games this season, mostly by design. Team officials wanted him to rest his sore knees so he could kick things into high gear for the playoffs. But Monday’s absence was not part of the plan. After the team initially said the All-Star guard hurt his ankle, Wade clarified Tuesday that he actually sat out with a sore Achilles tendon.
He scored a season-high 32 points in Miami’s win over the Pacers on Dec. 18 and is averaging 19.3 points.
Wade practiced Tuesday and participated in Wednesday morning’s shoot around but did not speak afterward, sitting instead on the bleachers with ice wrapped around both knees.
With Wade back, it appeared the Heat (48-21) would be at full strength for Round 3 of this increasingly heated rivalry.
Then Allen missed the shootaround with the flu. Spoelstra said the two-time defending champs would spend the afternoon contemplating how to adapt with the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers likely out.
“We may have to tweak some things with the second unit,” Spoelstra said.
The only medical concern for Indiana is backup center Andrew Bynum, who is out indefinitely with soreness and swelling in his right knee. Coach Frank Vogel said there was no change in Bynum’s status.
All this only adds to the intrigue of one of the league’s most intense matchups — on and off the court.
The Pacers won the first meeting 90-84 in Indianapolis on Dec. 10. Eight days later, the Heatrallied late for a 93-91 home victory. The teams will meet one more time, April 11 at Miami, before attention turns to what many expect to be a rematch in the Eastern Conference finals.
At times, the Heat have been perturbed by Indiana’s bold talk about earning the No. 1 seed in the East, though All-Star forward Chris Bosh acknowledged Wednesday that he “missed” playing the Pacers.
“You want to keep your friends closer and your enemies closer,” he said. “We know what is for in the East and they know what it is for, and we both know that where we want to go, we have to play each other.”
The last time these teams met in Indy, Miami also took exception to the Pacers’ description of it as a “championship game.”
But Indiana doesn’t understand the fuss.
When asked whether publicly promoting the goal of finishing No. 1 in the Eastern Conference was a good move, All-Star swingman Paul George said: “I think it’s a great move. I don’t know why we get criticized for, you know, having a goal. I don’t know if that wasn’t popular back in the day. But we was just a team that set out a goal for ourselves and a goal we felt was very achievable.”
Indiana (51-20) has held that No. 1 spot all season, though Miami is now within striking distance.
With a win at Indiana, the Heat would get even with Indiana in the loss column and move within one game of the Pacers.
Neither team has played particularly well lately. The Pacers have struggled offensively, theHeat defensively, and both have gone 7-7 in March.
Last weekend, Bosh challenged his teammates to play with more passion.
Now George is encouraging his teammates to share the ball more and have more fun, especially with so much at stake.
“We got a lot of guys looking to make plays one-on-one, which is not us. We’re used to playing as a team, playing as one, and we lost that. I don’t know where it went, but we lost it along the way,” George said. “So we can use a game like tonight to try to get back on track.”
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