Heat notebook

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade rested, healthy for playoffs

 
 
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade shoots a free throw before a game against the New York Knicks at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on April 6, 2014. Wade did not play in the game.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade shoots a free throw before a game against the New York Knicks at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on April 6, 2014. Wade did not play in the game.
David Santiago / Staff photo
WEB VOTE Which NBA Eastern Conference playoff series could likely result in an upset?

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

Dwyane Wade ended up sitting out 28 games this season after missing a combined 36 in the first three seasons with LeBron James as a teammate. But Wade enters these playoffs in a much better place, from a health perspective, than last year, when a knee injury lingered throughout the postseason.

This time around, he said the knee is “doing very well.” And he also has recovered from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for nine games before he returned for the final three.

“It’s a lot better than going into it last year,” Wade said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a better first round health wise than I did first round versus the Bucks last year, when I had to miss [Game 4] in Milwaukee. I look forward to Game 1 and hopefully not having any setbacks.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra said he is “encouraged” about Wade’s health: “He feels strong. He still has to work on the game conditioning, but that will have to happen on the fly in the playoffs.”

Wade played 23, 18 and 23 minutes in the three games over the final five days of the season. He does not worry about fatigue, though he hasn’t played 30 minutes since logging 31 on March 26 in Indiana.

“We’re well-conditioned athletes,” he said. “You get tired, you can come out for two minutes and go back in.

“These were a good three games for me. I pushed myself to do things I needed to do. I’m happy going into the postseason.”

Though he has played only one game with James in the past three weeks, Wade said: “I’m not worried about continuity with him at all. The biggest thing is we both know what we need to do. We played together for four years. That’s enough continuity right there.”

Wade said Thursday “will be the last day anybody can bother me. Sorry. You lock in for roughly two months and get into the mental place you need to be.”

The series

• The Heat has beaten Charlotte all 15 games since James has been a member of the Heat and 16 in a row overall.

This season’s scores: 97-81 on Nov. 16 in Charlotte, 99-98 on Dec. 1 in Miami, 104-96 in overtime on Jan. 18 in Charlotte, and 124-107 on March 3 in Miami, the game in which James set a Heat franchise and personal scoring record with 61 points.

James averaged 37.8 points on 62.9 percent shooting in the four games. Wade played in just two of the games, averaging 10.5 points.

“The speed and quickness and the shooting they have, they’re worthy, worthy opponents,” Spoelstra said.

Said Wade: “The team competes very hard. They have a great one-two punch with Kemba Walker and Big Al Jefferson. They have a great system, and all of them are involved. We’ve got to come with our hard hats on.”

Wade said guards Walker and Gerald Henderson “present some challenges. Walker is a very quick guard. He’s always getting through small gaps. Henderson is an athletic guard with the ability to post-up, midrange game.”

This and that

• With the Heat (54-28) and Houston and Portland all finishing with the same record, the NBA will hold a draw Friday to determine which of them has the 24th, 25th and 26th picks in the June draft. The Heat ended up winning 12 fewer games than last season’s 66-16 team.

• James finished first in NBA jersey sales this season, with Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry rounding out the top five. Wade was seventh.

• What most needs to improve from the Heat’s regular season performance?

“Our consistency with our defensive principles, being in the right place,” Shane Battier said, adding the playoffs “is ultimately what we’ll be judged on. And we need to be at our best. We have not been close.”

• Battier confirmed to Sun Sports what he has strongly implied for months: He’s retiring after the season. He’s pleased that he reached 30,000 career minutes in Wednesday’s regular season finale (33,004 to be exact).

“It makes me smile when I think about it,” he said. “If you would have told me when I was a little boy, ‘One day you’re going to play 30,000 regular-season NBA minutes,’ I’d say, ‘Get out of here.’ I needed 36 minutes going in, and thanks to circumstance, I got [nearly 40].”

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