Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t want to play Dwyane Wade as much as he did Sunday against Chicago, but Wade talked him into it.
Spoelstra and Wade did agree on exactly how much Wade will play Monday in Cleveland: zero.
“I don’t want to push it too much right now, playing back-to-back on my knee right now,” Wade said.
Wade missed six games in a row with knee and ankle problems before Friday’s win over Boston. He played 34 minutes 28 seconds in that game. Spoelstra said he wanted to keep Wade to the 32-minute range Sunday, but Wade wanted to keep going.
Wade wound up playing a team high 36:37.
“I just wanted to get my legs under me a little bit,” Wade said. “When I felt myself getting tired, felt my legs getting heavy, I wanted to keep going. I think I went another three or four minutes after that.”
Heat center Chris Bosh said he would pack for playing and sitting.
Nine players played at least 15 minutes Sunday. Forwards Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier got the afternoon off.
“We wanted to log a decent amount of minutes for the guys, knew it would be a physical game. A lot of the situations are similar to what we’ll see with Milwaukee,” Spoelstra said.
“As we move forward to [Monday], we’ll figure out who plays, and we’ll play that game to try to prepare. Wednesday’s shootaround will be more of a practice. Then, we’ll go from there as soon as we find out when we’ll play.”
Wednesday’s home game against Orlando finishes the regular season. After the regular season, the NBA will announce the playoff schedule.
The Heat already knows it will play Milwaukee in the first round.
After the last game against Chicago, when the Bulls ended the Heat’s 27-game winning streak, James harrumphed that some of the Bulls’ fouls weren’t “basketball plays.”
On Sunday, whistles were tight, though not entirely to the detriment of the Bulls.
For one thing, the numbers were nearly even — officials called a total of 57 fouls, 30 on Chicago and 27 on the Heat.
Secondly, the Heat couldn’t consistently hit free throws, especially Wade, who went 8 of 14 from the line. The Heat shoots 75.9 percent as a team and managed only 65.9 percent for the game.
“Some days, the referees are going to call it one way and on other days, they’ll call it a another way,” Chicago guard Nate Robinson said. “The referees aren’t perfect. They do a heck of a job out there officiating.”
The Heat twice fouled Chicago on made three-pointers in the third quarter, giving the Bulls the chance to pull off the rare four-point plays twice in two minutes.