With Dwyane Wade missing his third consecutive game to rest his knees, LeBron James said Tuesday that it has been difficult establishing a collective rhythm amid the uncertainty about whether Wade would be available from game to game.
“It’s tough,” James said. “Guys think it’s easy, but it’s tough. We have a team built on chemistry, built on rhythm. With so many of the guys being in and out, and the concern with D-Wade, it’s been tough on all of us. We’ve got to go in with the mindset sometimes that he’s not playing, as opposed to: Is he playing?”
Wade has missed 12 games, but this marked the first time he has skipped three in a row. He admitted feeling “a little soreness” in the knees on Monday but wasn’t available to speak before Tuesday’s game. One of the games Wade missed earlier in the season was because of flu, with “rest” listed as the reason for the 11 other absences.
“What we try to do is not predetermine and have expectations about it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You can’t predict it. You’re going to have some good days and some days where you don’t feel great. We know as long as we stick to the routine, he should get better, quicker and stronger. Now that we’re at home we can get back on the routine of strength training and conditioning.”
Ray Allen said “there’s no concern” about Wade’s knees because “he’s not injured. Nothing has happened where it’s sidelined him for a long period of time. It’s management of his body.”
But the Heat has played worse without Wade than it has in previous years since James joined the team. Miami entered Tuesday with a 5-6 record without Wade, compared with 11-2 last season and 14-3 in 2011-12.
“We’ve had a little more guys out than just Dwyane this year,” James said. “From a rhythm standpoint, it’s kind of hurt us. We’re a team that is built on rhythm and chemistry, and we’ve had so many guys out with injuries that it’s kind of hurt our performance.
“Me watching the film, some of the things we’ve been able to cover in the past is off. Last year, when D-Wade went out, we had Mike Miller to step in. Mike Miller was in the system for a while, so we could automatically fill that void. Now, with D-Wade out, it’s given more opportunities to guys that haven’t been in the system as many years or as many situations as Mike Miller.”
DOUGLAS JOINS TEAM
• Combo guard Toney Douglas, who had been training in Miami for several days since last Wednesday’s trade with Golden State and Boston, joined his teammates for Tuesday afternoon’s walkthrough, and said he was pleased with the deal because “it’s rare to come to a championship team.”
Douglas, who was on the inactive list Tuesday, said he has spoken with Heat president Pat Riley twice since the trade and “he told me they liked me, been on their radar for a long time and to do what I do best.”
Douglas, who averaged 3.7 points for Golden State, said the priority is picking up the Heat’s defensive schemes. “I pick up things well,” he said. “My mentality when I step on the floor is defensive-minded. I love to disrupt an opponent…. I’m here to get better and make an impact.”
This and That
• Michael Beasley entered Tuesday have playing just seven, two, six and three minutes over the previous four games, but Spoelstra did not answer directly when asked if there has been slippage in his game.
“That’s not an indictment on Michael,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve given up 120 points. I think we’re all at fault, including the staff.”
• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game that the fact Joel Anthony, acquired from the Heat last week, knows the Heat’s play calls is “a benefit” but shouldn’t be overstated.
• Mario Chalmers received a warning, but not a fine, for violating the NBA’s antiflopping rule against Atlanta.
• As an example of how Spoelstra trusts his players more than he did early in the Big 3era, James noted: “We’ve had two games this year where he’s allowed guys to change a play late in the game. I was one of them. [Bosh] was the other.”