Dwyane Wade was a reserve for the first time in nearly 500 games, LeBron James played less than 30 minutes and fans trickled into a half-empty arena throughout the first quarter.
So, it didn’t exactly have the same feel as the NBA Finals.
The Heat’s 113-101 Sunday matinee victory against the Spurs was short on drama, to be sure, but don’t confuse that with insignificance. Not only was it the Heat’s first victory against a team with a winning record since Dec.28, but it was also Wade’s first game on the court since removing himself from the lineup more than a week ago.
And Wade did something he hasn’t done since the 2007-08 season. He came off the bench. After taking time off to rest his sore right knee, Wade requested a lesser role for his first game back, which happened to be the Heat’s first game against the Spurs at AmericanAirlines Arena since the 2013 NBA Finals.
“I did what I wanted to do,” Wade said. “I made plays for my teammates and got my opportunities. I ran up and down just to grab my second, third or fourth wind sometimes. I just wanted to go out there and just try to get my rhythm back a little bit and I was able to do that.
“My thing is to come in and help my teammates. That is all I was trying to do. I have been off for a little while and these guys have been in a groove and I didn’t want to come in and mess that up tonight.”
It was another eight-point game for Wade, who scored eight points against the Wizards and Sixers before pain in his knee forced him back into the training room. The Heat (32-12) has won three games in a row after beginning January with a 5-5 record.
Wade started the game on the bench with a thick wrap of heating pads around his right knee before shedding the in-game treatment in the first quarter. He entered the game for Shane Battier with 4:41 left in the period. Wade played 13 minutes in the first half and finished with eight points on five shots.
For the game, Wade went 3 of 8 from the field in 24 minutes and had five assists and three rebounds.
“It was just good to have him out there,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He had a good week. That’s the way I view it. He’s been able to train. He’s been able to condition.”
Wade has missed 13 games this season as he recovers from an offseason knee procedure. Most recently, he said the pain in his knee was too great to play. Allen started in place of Wade for the fifth game in a row and finished with 10 points, going 3 of 5 from the field and 2 of 3 from three-point range.
“I told him it was great having him back out there,” LeBron James said. “It is always better to see him out on the floor than on the bench.”
James had 18 points in less than 28 minutes, but the game’s best performances came from Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers. Bosh had 24 points in 26 minutes, going 9 of 10 from the field. He was 1 of 2 from three-point range and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
Bosh began the game 4 of 4 from the field in the first quarter, and his three-pointer gave the Heat 20 points in game’s first six minutes. Miami outscored the Spurs 34-28 in the first period. The Heat was shooting better than 80 percent from the field (.813) until the final minute of the quarter.
“If you’re able to get open shots early, it makes things a little bit easier,” Bosh said. “If you see the ball go in continuously, it helps out for the psychology of the game early.”
Chalmers had another impressive game in what is developing into arguably the best season of his career. He finished with 16 points, going 6 of 8 from the field, 2 of 3 from three-point range and 2 of 2 from the free-throw line.
Greg Oden played 13 minutes and had three points and two rebounds. It was Oden’s most minutes since being cleared to play.
“[Oden] just causes havoc down [in the paint] by just being down there and getting tip balls and going to the basket isn’t as easy,” Wade said. “He is going to make you change your shot a little bit. He is working very hard; we love when he is in there.
“Hopefully he can just continue to progress to where we need him to be when we come to April, May and hopefully June.”
The Spurs (33-11) were without Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green and trailed by 29 points five minutes into the fourth quarter. Tim Duncan, who played 25 minutes, led San Antonio with 23 points. Boris Diaw had 15 points, going 6 of 10 from the field.