Play through it. That’s what Dwyane Wade did during the 2012 playoffs on a left knee that required post-championship surgery. That’s what Wade would like to do with the right knee bone bruise that has bothered him for months and could keep him out of Monday’s Game 1 of the second round.
“That’s the only parallel you can draw [with a year ago],” he said. “This time of the year, everyone has something they’re dealing with. No matter what I’m dealing with, knock on wood, thank God I’m able to step on the court and play. This game has lost some great players so far in this postseason to where they couldn’t play. My objective is to be out on the court with my teammates in whatever capacity that I can.”
Oklahoma City’s rerun to the NBA Finals probably got canceled when Russell Westbrook went down for the playoffs. Golden State lost David Lee for what the team announced was the season after Game 1 against Denver (Lee did a cameo early in Golden State’s series-clinching win in Game 6). And Chicago labored all season without guard Derrick Rose, who injured his knee in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.
Wade missed no playoff games last year, although the knee injury clearly prevented him from playing at peak performance. Still, you couldn’t fault Wade’s consistency. He averaged 21.0, 26.2, 21.4 and 22.6 points per game, respectively, in the four series. He led or tied for the team lead in blocked shots in three series. His turnovers and fouls per game numbers remained in the same range.
He missed six regular-season games from March 31 to April. 10 with this injury, then played three of the last four regular-season games. Following a 37-minute night against physical Chicago, Wade skipped a Cleveland road game that was the second half of a home-road back-to-back.
After Wade aggravated the bruise in Game 3 against Milwaukee, the Heat scratched him for Game 4. Such is the luxury of a 3-0 series lead against a young, sub-.500 team and being part of a team with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and a stronger-than-ever supporting cast.
“When you’re dealing with something after games, you hope it doesn’t get any worse, hope it doesn’t get more sore,” Wade said. “But the injury I’m dealing with, you never know day to day. You’ve got to get that in your mental. It’s in my mental now that no matter what I’m dealing with, try to do what you can. Hopefully, you can get out there and be productive.”
The Heat, 12-2 without Wade this season, closed out the Bucks in four games, giving everybody time to indulge in the RE complex: rest, relax, rehabilitate, recharge.
“He’s able to do a great deal of extensive rehab treatment,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Also able to work on his conditioning the last few days, which he wasn’t able to do before. We’ll see. He’s still day-to-day.”
Asked if this situation was similar to last year, Spoelstra replied, “Totally different injury.”
Wade wouldn’t vow that he would be ready by Monday.
“Right now, I’m taking it day to day,” he said. “I’m not going to jump ahead of myself. I’m going to think positively.”