Miami Heat

Remember when Dwyane Wade was on a maintenance program? That seems like so long ago

Dwyane Wade on challenge of facing the Spurs

Dwyane Wade speaks about the challenge of facing the Spurs on March 20, 2019.
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Dwyane Wade speaks about the challenge of facing the Spurs on March 20, 2019.

Remember when Dwyane Wade was on a maintenance program because of knee issues? That story line from the 2013-14 season seems like so long ago.

Wade was in his early 30s then, when mystery surrounded his status from night to night and he went on to miss a total of 28 games.

Things are different now.

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Spurs, a 37-year-old Wade has missed just three games due to injury or illness in his final NBA season. He missed seven consecutive games in November for the birth of his daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade.

“It’s crazy because that was like five years ago,” Wade said of the maintenance program he used to play under. “It hasn’t been a topic of conversation for me for a while. I was very open about the injuries that I went through and how it felt. ... Just in a lot of pain. But now, it’s great to be able to just play and not think about anything. It’s a lot of hard work that I’ve put in, too. A lot of sacrifice I had to put in, change the habits that I had.”

Playing off the bench helps, as Wade has averaging a manageable 25.6 minutes per game this season. He logged 32.9 minutes per game in 2013-14 and was still playing somewhat of a high-flying brand of basketball at that time.

Wade, who entered Wednesday averaging 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 60 games this season, also started eating healthier and changed his offseason routine through the years to help preserve his body.

“The year that he was missing back-to-backs, let’s not forget that he had a deep bone bruise [in his knee],” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So you see it leaguewide, the guys that now sit out because of bone bruises. Back then, he played through it. That was probably a four-week rest injury that he played through just to have a shot at a title. He’s wired a little bit differently.”

Still, for a player who missed the second night of back-to-back games on 10 different occasions in 2013-14, it’s impressive that he has only missed the second night of a back-to-back once this season and it was because he was on paternity leave.

Part of it is the fact that Wade realizes he doesn’t have many games left, with his NBA playing career winding down. After Wednesday’s game against the Spurs, just 11 regular-season games remain.

“I’m not going to have too many more of these, obviously,” Wade said. “I’m enjoying this process, even the other night, when we were about to play Charlotte and I was banged up [because of a bruised right hip] from the Milwaukee game and I was thinking about not playing. It just came down to, ‘I don’t have many more of these.’ So I can get out there and at least try to do something and give my team something, and I was able to give them more than even I thought I would that [day]. It’s that time of the year. “

THE EVOLVING DRAGIC

Goran Dragic’s three-point shot attempts are up, and that’s not by accident.

After shooting four threes per game last season, Dragic is attempting 4.8 per game this season. Since returning from knee surgery last month, he has made an adjustment to shoot more threes and attempt less drives to the basket to help preserve his body.

Entering Wednesday, he was shooting an ultra-efficient 47.7 percent from three-point range in the 10 games he has played after coming back from injury.

“He’s adjusting,” Spoelstra said of Dragic. “He has a great shot. He’s really worked at it when he was out, particularly when that was the only thing he could do. But he’s keeping defenses honest for sure. Then when you start to inch toward him and cheat on it, he’s still as good as anybody in this league getting into the paint.”

Justise Winslow (right thigh bruise) and Rodney McGruder (left knee soreness) will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Spurs.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.
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