Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade was scheduled to meet with doctors Saturday and determine the best treatment for his ailing left knee amid the Heat’s playoff race.
Under normal circumstances, Wade likely would have fluid drained from his knee and then rest for a few games, but that might not be an option for the veteran superstar now that center Hassan Whiteside is out with a lacerated right hand. The shorthanded Heat is facing a difficult schedule this week while clinging to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Heat is just one game ahead of the Celtics in the loss column.
Wade began feeling some discomfort in his knee before the Heat’s recently completed four-game road trip. He further aggravated it Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks, and then sat out Wednesday’s victory against the Boston Celtics. Wade played just 21 minutes Friday in the Heat’s blowout loss to the Hawks.
“I just tried to give my teammates something, but hopefully I’ll be better Sunday when I go back to Miami, see my doctors and see what they want to do,” Wade said. “I had a lot of fluid, and so in a perfect world I would love to get some fluid out.”
The Heat plays the Pistons on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, and then the Spurs on Tuesday before a three-game trip to Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana. If Wade continues to play with a swollen left knee, the injury could linger into the playoffs. In the past, Wade rested his legs before the postseason, but that might not be an option this season.
While sorting out that conundrum, the Heat also must figure out how to adjust defensively without Whiteside, who cut his right hand against the Bucks. He could miss several games while his wound heals. Adding to the uncertainty, Chris Andersen, Whiteside’s backup, has missed consecutive games with a bruised left calf.
“This is a desperate time right now, so we’ve proven we can regroup after tough losses,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s been the DNA of this group all year, but we do need to regroup, refocus and come out with a great effort on Sunday.”
The Heat (33-39) dropped three of four games during its difficult road trip, but it wasn’t a total loss despite more injuries to key players. With Wade, Whiteside and Andersen out against the Celtics, co-captain Udonis Haslem led a spirited effort for one of the team’s most important victories of the season. The unlikely win gave the Heat a playoff tiebreaker over Boston and moved Miami one step closer to a first-round series against LeBron James and the Cavs.
Wrapped around the positivity in Boston, however, were bad losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Hawks. Those games were reminders of just how difficult this season has been for the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions. Getting swept by the Hawks 4-0 this season was no great indictment, but dropping all four of its regular-season games to the Bucks was disheartening for the Heat. It was only two seasons ago that the Heat swept the Bucks in a first-round playoff series.
Two of this season’s losses to the Bucks were significant for other reasons as well. Just two days after Whiteside’s triple-double in Chicago on Jan. 25, the Heat lost to the Bucks 109-102 in Miami, and Wade went down with his second hamstring injury of the season. It was a discouraging defeat, but perhaps not as difficult to overcome as the loss Wednesday in Milwaukee when Whiteside sliced his hand on the rim. The injury required 10 stitches and there isn’t a timetable for the center’s return.
So now, with 10 games left of this star-crossed season, the Heat returns home needing a win against old coach Stan Van Gundy and his Pistons, who defeated the Heat 108-91 in February.
“We just feel fortunate that we’re alive and we’re still in this hunt,” Spoelstra said. “We’re trying to scrape out some wins and get into that postseason. Our group is a confident group.
“We’ve proven that we play at an elite level, but the consistency of that is what we’re searching for.”
Next for the Miami Heat
SUNDAY: DET @ MIA
When/where: 6 p.m.;
TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 50-45.
Noteworthy: Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) is questionable. Chris Andersen (left calf contusion) is questionable. Hassan Whiteside (right hand laceration) is doubtful. Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) is out. Chris Bosh (blood clot) is out. For the Pistons, Greg Monroe (right knee strain) is questionable. Brandon Jennings (ruptured left Achilles tendon) is out.