Wade Flourishing Despite Worrisome Knees
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