After three days to regroup following a long road trip, the Heat hopes to have Dwyane Wade back on the court as it prepares to face one of the most talented backcourts in the NBA.
The Heat will play 10 of its next 11 games at American-Airlines Arena, opening its longest stretch of home games of the season Wednesday night when it plays host to the Bucks and the talented tandem of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.
Wade, who has practiced the past three days, said he is hopeful to be in the lineup, although no official decision had been made as of Tuesday’s practice.
“I felt better [Tuesday], and felt no soreness,” Wade said. “Before I got injured, I was trying to get my rhythm back. I’m excited to get back out there and start.”
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Wade missed the final two games of the recent six-game road trip with a sprained foot. The Heat went 4-2 on the trip and won those final two games against the Nuggets and Suns.
Wade first injured his foot against the Rockets on Nov. 12 and struggled when he tried to return three days later against the Clippers, going 2 for 10 from the field with six points and five turnovers.
“Dwyane went through the whole practice and looked a lot better,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’m encouraged by it, but we’ll have to see where he is at [Wednesday].”
The Heat might need all the help it can get to slow down Ellis and Jennings.
Ellis comes in averaging 21.4 points per game (eighth in the NBA) and 5.8 assists. Jennings is averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 assists (tied for eighth in the league with Tony Parker).
The duo has led the Bucks to a 6-3 record so far and first place in the Central division.
“We’re preparing for a team that has played very well and has two very good guards that together arguably pose as many problems off the dribble as we’ve faced yet this year,” Spoelstra said. “Their ability to attack open situations and pick and roll — they are relentless.
“When you play these ultra-quick small guards, it’s all about preparation early and you can’t get caught behind or it’s too late. You have to be ahead of the play.”
Spoelstra stressed the importance of his guards being alert at all times while guarding both players and staying in front of them to prevent drives to the basket.
“Those two guys are gap players,” guard Ray Allen said. “If our defense is spread behind the main defender they are going to attack those gaps. It’s not just our individual guys that have to defend them. It’s a team effort.”
After practice Tuesday, Heat players served meals and gave out about 600 food bags to needy families at the Miami Rescue Mission. The event was part of the Heat’s annual Thanksgiving celebration.