Wade Flour­ish­ing De­spite Wor­ri­some Knees

The Economic Times - - Sports -

Both are ca­pa­ble of win­ning matches with trick­ery, a burst of pace or an ex­plo­sive shot. Costa is an out-and-out striker and is most dan­ger­ous in the box. Un­der Diego Sime­one he has also be­come a tire­less run­ner. Ron­aldo has scored 31 goals in La Liga com­pared with Costa’s 27. The long sea­son has taken its toll on both play­ers. Costa re­mains a doubt for the fi­nal, while Ron­aldo has just re­turned from an in­jury. Dwyane Wade ob­jected—in un­ques­tion­ably po­lite and good-na­tured ways—to the word­ing of a ques­tion posed to him by re­porters af­ter the Mi­ami Heat’s work­out Thurs­day morn­ing. A re­porter char­ac­terised the 28 games Wade missed dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son as an ef­fort to “keep you fresh for the play­offs.” Wade re­cal­i­brated the frame of dis­cus­sion. “It wasn’t to keep me fresh for the play­offs,” he said quickly and mat­ter-of-factly. Over the last few years, Wade’s balky knees have prob­a­bly been Mi­ami’s most closely watched joints. And with the Heat and the Pac­ers hav­ing split the first two games in their best-of-seven se­ries, Wade’s knees have be­come the cen­tre of at­ten­tion again.

So he is, gen­tly, try­ing to set any sto­ries about them straight. Af­ter a col­li­sion in the sec­ond match, Wade was squirm­ing on the ground, grab­bing at his left knee. Al­though Wade stayed in the game and helped the Heat se­cure the vic­tory, it was a wor­ry­ing sight in the mo­ment, given how big a weapon Wade re­mains for the Heat and how much anx­i­ety that knee has al­ready caused. Wade, who had the menis­cus re­moved from the knee while he was still in col­lege at Mar­quette, has had chronic prob­lems in both knees that have re­quired var­i­ous sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures and treat­ments. The prob­lems in­ten­si­fied over the last two sea­sons, cul­mi­nat­ing in a frus­trat­ing 2013 post­sea­son. Wade had shock-wave ther­apy on the knees last sum­mer and was still re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing when this sea­son be­gan. Rather than shut­ting down Wade, the Heat elected to let him play through the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process, tak­ing care not to overex­ert his knees. The whole time, Wade was do­ing ex­tra work— “his train­ing, his con­di­tion, his pro­tec­tive ex­er­cises, his stretch­ing,” as Coach Erik Spoel­stra said—to get in shape.

Wade, who played 54 games in the reg­u­lar sea­son, was an er­ratic pres­ence in the Heat line-up—a ham­string in­jury also slowed him at the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son—and he av­er­aged the fewest min­utes per game (32.9) of his ca­reer and the fewest points (19.0) since his rookie sea­son.

But he is flour­ish­ing now. Through 11 play­off games, Wade has av­er­aged 19.2 points, 4.1 as­sists, 3.5 re­bounds and 1.2 steals while play­ing 34.6 min­utes per game. He is shoot­ing 53.1 per­cent from the field, mak­ing crafty shots from medium dis­tances that demon­strate his con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion as a player.

And he is mak­ing plays at the rim along­side LeBron James that re­call his ear­lier, ex­plo­sive self.

“When he’s ag­gres­sive and at­tack­ing, when he’s the D-Wade ev­ery­one has come to know over all these years, it takes us to an­other level,” his team­mate Shane Bat­tier said. “Teams aren’t able to just fo­cus on LeBron. It’s a two-headed monster at­tack­ing the paint. It puts teams on their heels.” “He was asked about it ev­ery day—and not only by the me­dia, but people work­ing at the gro­cery store and at the movies,” Bat­tier said. Wade said he could the­o­ret­i­cally have sat out the first few months of the sea­son. But he and the Heat de­cided to try a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. With Mi­ami con­tin­u­ing its push for a third straight ti­tle, it seems to have been a good choice. Wade said he had been in a good place men­tally and phys­i­cally over the last few games. The key, he said, will be find­ing a way to stay in that zone he has worked so hard to reach.

The New York Times

Dwayne Wade

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