Heat guard Dwyane Wade plans to return from injury at Madison Square Garden — just not for the All-Star Game.
In explaining his decision to sit out this weekend’s All-Star game to rest his hamstring, Wade pointed to the Heat’s game in New York against the Knicks on Feb. 20 as his projected first game back from injury. The Heat’s starting shooting guard missed his seventh consecutive game on Wednesday in Cleveland. He strained his hamstring on Jan. 27.
“I look forward to after the break, coming back with the guys … and just getting ready to understand that the last 30 games we got some good basketball we’ve got to play if we want to play further into April and May,” Wade said. “The biggest thing is we want to see everyone in a jersey together hopefully for 30 games. That will be amazing, especially for this team.”
Forwards Shawne Williams and James Ennis were also unavailable against the Cavaliers. Williams, who has now missed five consecutive games, is still recovering from a hip injury. Ennis, who is out with an illness, did not travel with the Heat to Cleveland. Already this season, Heat players have missed over 100 games combined due to either injuries or illnesses.
For some perspective of just how trying this season has been, consider that the team has already used 20 different starting lineups. Last season, the Heat used 21 different lineups total, and that was considered a lot. Rookie guard Tyler Johnson, who recently signed a contract with the Heat for the remainder of season, is the only player on the Heat’s roster who hasn’t started at least one game.
With the Heat focusing on consistency after the All-Star break, Wade didn’t want to chance reinjuring his hamstring on Wednesday against the Cavaliers, or on Sunday during the All-Star Game.
“I always try to be smart with the decisions I make,” Wade said. “I understand where this team is at, and I understand that when this break is over we have 30 games, and the biggest thing for all of us this year is we haven’t been together. So, obviously, coming in here and playing this game, a very emotional game with a lot of intensity, I might try to do a little too much, so I don’t want to have any setbacks or anything.”
Wade informed the NBA on Tuesday that he wouldn’t be playing in the game, and the league replaced him with Hawks guard Kyle Korver on the East All-Star team. It will be the first All-Star appearance for Korver, who at 33 years old is shooting over 51 percent from the field, 52 percent from three-point range and 92 percent from the free-throw line.
“Knowing I wasn’t going to suit up tonight, I thought it wasn’t right that I suit up in the All-Star Game after not having played in seven games,” Wade said. “Since I wasn’t going to play or even play much, I thought giving someone their first opportunity to be an All-Star would be the best thing to do.”
Selected by coaches for the All-Star game this season, Wade will still be credited with an All-Star season despite not participating in the game. He is an 11-time All-Star, and has been selected for the game every season since his second in the NBA.
Johnson, the Heat’s new rookie shooting guard, showed up in Cleveland with a bruised left eye and a bandage over his eyebrow. He said he was hit in the face during a “noncontact” practice Tuesday while trying to run through a screen. The cut above his eye required five stitches.
Was the hard screen some kind of initiation to the team, or rookie hazing?
“Maybe,” Johnson joked. “I don’t know. It was noncontact, shadow defense, and I tried to go through a screen and he got me.”
Who got him?
“I don’t know if I can say his name,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if I can put him on blast like that.”