Wade down Friday, but maybe not out Sunday
When Miami Heat sixth man Dwyane Wade took a scary fall on a drive to the basket late in the third quarter Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks and was slow to get up, the worst could have come to mind.
What if Wade, with 14 regular-season games remaining in his “One Last Dance” retirement season, were to miss a significant chunk of those down the final stretch? Or even all of them?
Crisis averted from that standpoint. “I think Dwyane will be OK,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Friday’s game. “He fell on his hip pretty hard, but he was moving around OK when he came back.”
Wade, who played Friday despite entering as questionable with a bruised elbow, reaffirmed: “I’m OK, just got a little bruise. I’ll be all right.”
He was able to return to the game after a pit stop in the locker room for his bruised right hip, as was point guard Justise Winslow with his right thigh bruise — his return simultaneous with Wade’s initial exit after Winslow went to the locker room earlier in the third quarter.
Both Wade and Winslow are questionable for Sunday’s matchup with the Charlotte Hornets at AmericanAirlines Arena at 1 p.m. The Hornets are one game behind the Heat for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
Winslow, however, appeared to feel the effects of his injury more upon his return. After he scored 20 points in the first half — a career high for the fourth-year player out of Duke — on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3 of 5, Winslow was scoreless in 12 minutesduring the second half.
“Justise certainly wasn’t moving around in the second half the way he was in the first half,” Spoelstra said. “[Saturday] is going to be a big treatment day, around the clock.”
Winslow said the thigh bruise slowed him down “a good amount.”
“I just didn’t have the top gear that I usually like to play with on both ends of the floor,” he said. “It affected me, but my mind was that I was out there. I was trying to push through it and help my team win.”
The Heat had been as healthy as they’ve been all season heading into Friday’s game. All NBA-contract players have been available since the March 8 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With Winslow and Wade questionable, the Heat begin a stretch of five games in seven days with Sunday’s matchup against the Hornets. A four-game road trip starts in Oklahoma City and will also feature stops in San Antonio, Milwaukee and Washington.
The Shazier exchange: Wade had a unique jersey exchange following Friday night’s game. Arguably the greatest athlete in South Florida sports history had a moment with a South Florida product in the NFL who is battling back from a severe spinal injury, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Shazier, who attended Plantation High before playing collegiately at Ohio State, sat courtside Friday night and took a picture with Wade on the AmericanAirlines Arena floor at the game’s conclusion. He was then invited into the Heat locker room, where he had his No. 50 Steelers jersey to swap with Wade. The backstory dates back to January when Shazier tagged Wade in a tweet saying, “man I wish I played in the nba @DwyaneWade. I would love to get one of your jerseys. Always enjoyed watching you play.”
Wade replied: “Come to a game bro we can make that happen.”
So on Friday, it happened.
“Just as an athlete and as a human being, I told him thank you for inspiring everyone with his courage to not give up,” Wade said. “[I’m]just appreciative of what he stands for and what he’s done. [It was] just a token of my appreciation.”
In an Instagram post, Wade wrote: “A real life hero. A true inspiration. Thank you @RyanShazier for your courage. Thank you for showing so many individuals in the world what believing in yourself looks like.
Shazier initially suffered the injury Dec. 4, 2017, ending his season after spinal stabilization surgery three days later. He missed the entire 2018 season but is still working toward a return to the NFL.