Heat notebook

Miami Heat awaits winner of Knicks-Pacers series; tickets on sale Thursday

WEB VOTE Which player’s absence has hurt his team most in the NBA playoffs?


Just as it did after dispatching the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, the Heat could face another long layoff before its next playoff series.

If the Knicks stave off elimination by beating the Pacers on Thursday night, then the Eastern Conference Finals would not begin until Wednesday, with games to be played every other day.

But if the Pacers beat the Knicks to close out their series on Thursday, the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference finals would start Monday. There likely would be several days off between Games 2 and 3 of the series.

Individual tickets for Games 1 and 2 will go on sale Thursday at 2 p.m. at HEAT.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX. There is an eight ticket purchase limit per household.

The Heat had an eight-day layoff after beating Milwaukee and wasn’t sharp in a Game 1 loss to Chicago.

Wade update

Heat guard Dwyane Wade, continuing to deal with a bone bruise on his right knee, said before the game: “It isn’t getting better, it isn’t getting worse. I understand I’m not 100 percent.”

He said there are “certain times of a game” it feels fine, and other times it doesn’t. “No one knows. I don’t even know.”

He said he would “try not to please the media and do something my body is not going to let me do. Hopefully, I’ll have no setbacks.”

Does it affect him defensively? “A little bit, but I’m able to make up for it.”

Before the game, LeBron James said of Wade: “Just his presence helps us, though his stats are down. He would like to do more and we would like him to do more.”

A critical eye

One constant with this team: Even after victories, the players are critical of their performance if it doesn’t meet their high standards. That’s certainly not the case with lesser teams.

Chris Bosh said when he played in Toronto, “we were very happy to win. Even if we had a bad game, I still took it and ran with it. Here we’re always chasing perfection. We might not ever play perfect, but that pursuit helps us a team.”

He said that mentality “comes from everybody [but coach Erik Spoelstra] is the catalyst. He’s always pushing us. Even after Game 4, he’s pointing out mistakes we made. That’s what he’s supposed to do as the leader of this team, to keep us humble and let us know we can always play a lot better.”

Spoelstra said: “Our guys understand if we win, we’ll still probably watch film and often times, it will be the mistakes or areas we can improve without it being a fight.”

• Sports Illustrated’s list of the highest-paid American athletes includes James at No. 2 ($56.5 million), Wade 11th (at $28.6 million) and Bosh 47th (at $18.5 million). Those figures are obviously supplemented by endorsements. As far as salary, James and Bosh are earning $17.5 million this season, Wade $17 million.

• Bosh said James’ new free-throw technique makes him look “like a 6-8 version” of Ray Allen. “That’s the only difference.” James has tried to emulate Allen’s technique on free throws and made 19 of 20 in Games 3 and 4.

“They spend a lot of time together after practice,” Spoelstra said. “Free-throw shooting is an area he wants to improve. There’s no better person to go to than Ray Allen.” Barry Jackson

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