What’s troubling is that not even Wade is sure if his knee will feel fine at any point in the postseason or if this Wade facsimile is what Miami must adjust to.
“Some days are better than others,” he said. As for the in-game pain that required a quick rest and a bandage change Monday? “First time y’all seen it,” he said, and smiled slyly. “Other times I’ve been able not to show y’all.”
It was surprising, almost shocking, to see Wade still playing late in the lopsided game, until coming out during a mass substitution with 2:38 to play. It suggested the risk of aggravating the injury is not as great as the need to play through it, to get past it.
Plain logic suggested Wade should have been resting long before then. To a layman’s view it also seems obvious Wade should sit out Game 5 Wednesday back in Miami.
It is a sensitive subject with the team.
“Look, the thing about Dwyane, he understands more than anybody: Just help us win,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Is he giving us 30 [points]? No. But he’s doing things to help us win. He’ll continue to get in a better rhythm.”
Wade had scored a quiet 10 points in Game 3, taking only seven shots — including a nearly invisible one shot in the first half. Characteristically, he did not blame the knee, but rather the “flow of the game.”
“Dwyane has been having a tough time getting into the flow,” confirmed Chris Bosh.
He needs to get into that flow, a flow he once created, if his knee will allow it.
Wade hates to talk about his injury, his knee, his health. One, to address it sounds like he is using a crutch, making an excuse. Two, “it becomes a mental thing,” he admitted after a practice during the first-round series. The more you are asked about it, the more you think about and think, “I’m not right.”
A similar scenario played out with Wade one year ago in the playoffs. Remember? His knee wasn’t quite right, though that wasn’t widely known. He scored only five points in a second-round loss in Indiana during which he was caught yelling at Spoelstra.
Wade’s frustration became a national story. He seemed suddenly old, suddenly past his prime.
From that point, he averaged 24.1 points to help lead the championship run.
Wade is a proud and sensitive man. Doubt him and you fuel him.
Only the player and club medics know right now if what ails his game is physical or as much a matter of “rhythm,” as his coach said.
Either way, the doubt and question linger whether Wade’s knee will allow him to regain his star this postseason and be the explosive offensive force Heat fans and opponents have known so well.
It feels as if the answer and Miami’s repeat title dreams will be intertwined.