MILWAUKEE -- With so many devastating season-ending injuries of NBA stars already in the back of his mind, LeBron James encouraged Dwyane Wade to sit out Game 4 if he wasn’t completely healthy.
“I basically told him, ‘Hey, if you’re not feeling it, if you don’t feel like you can be 100 percent, or close to 100 percent … then don’t push it,’ ” James said. “We’ve seen too many injuries already in our NBA year — regular season and postseason — of guys getting injured and that kind of came to my mind.”
So, Sunday was a win-win for the Heat. Miami swept the series, of course, and Dwyane Wade received some much-needed rest. James scored a series-high 30 points with Wade on the bench.
Wade received treatment and warmed up on the court before Sunday’s game with the hopes of playing. Heat owner Micky Arison and team CEO Nick Arison watched Wade run through his drills.
Ultimately, Wade decided against playing after reinjuring his knee and aggravating his right forearm during Game 3. Wade went 1 of 12 in Game 3.
“Obviously, I could have pushed through it, but my teammates told me that if it’s hurting then they got it,” Wade said. “So, I trusted my teammates and understood they could get the win.”
Wade gave James a nod of the head before the game, and no other communication was needed. It would be up to James to close out the series.
“I had to pick it up a little more and just try to bring us home,” James said.
Wade will now have plenty of time to rest before the Heat’s next series, which will not begin until at least Saturday.
The Heat plays the winner of the first-round series between the Bulls and Nets. The Bulls lead the series 3-1. If Chicago wins the series in five games, then the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the Heat and Bulls would likely begin Saturday in Miami.
With Wade out of action, Mike Miller started Sunday’s Game 4 of the Heat’s first-round playoff series.
The Heat waited until 45 minutes before tipoff to announce the lineup switch.
It was Miller’s first start in a playoff game since 2006 when, as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, he started Game 4 of a first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas won the series in four games.
Miller played 22 minutes Sunday and had five points, two rebounds and four assists. He was 1 of 5 from three-point range and 2 of 7 shooting overall.
“It’s good to be out there and playing,” said Miller, who added that he was a little tired after playing so many minutes.
Miller played a total of two minutes during the Heat’s first three playoff games but started the final 13 games of the regular season, averaging more than 10 points per game while shooting more than 48 percent from three-point range.
The Heat was 15-2 during the regular season with Miller in the starting lineup and is now 1-0 in the playoffs with Miller as a starter.
Ray Allen, Wade’s primary backup, will continue to come off the bench with the Heat’s second unit, which is averaging more than 40 points per game in the series.
This and that
• Remember that video last week of James counting off pushups for Allen and Mario Chalmers during a Heat practice. James and Allen have started doing pushups together before games.
• The Heat started the game 2 of 10 before a dunk by Udonis Haslem with 6:21 left in the first quarter. Despite the poor shooting, the Heat led 8-5. Haslem finished with a series-high 13 points. It was his most points in a postseason game since Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against Boston.
With Wade out and unable to play with the Heat’s second unit during the second quarter, Rashard Lewis received his first meaningful minutes of the series. He finished with two points on 1-of-5 shooting in less than nine minutes.
Norris Cole had a great five-minute stretch during the second quarter in which he delivered a pair of pinpoint passes inside to cutting teammates, found open teammates for three-point attempts and also knocked down a jump shot. He finished with four points, two rebounds and three assists.