Ailing Heat star Dwyane Wade: ‘I’ll be ready’ for Hawks Wednesday night

By Tim Reynolds, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wade: ‘I will be ready’ Wednesday vs. Hawks

MIAMI — Dwyane Wade is ailing again in the playoffs, an odd-year coincidence that he and the Miami Heat would love to escape from.

The NBA’s scoring champion continued suffering Tuesday from a sore and stiff back, hurting so much that even standing against a wall was a bit problematic.

Still, Wade said he’ll play Wednesday when the Heat visit the Atlanta Hawks in a pivotal Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series, tied at two games apiece.

“I’ll be ready,” Wade said.

Miami’s playoff exits in 2005 and 2007 both came with Wade hobbling. Four years ago, it was a rib cage injury that doomed Miami in the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit. Two years ago, knee and shoulder pain left him unable to do much of anything against Chicago.

Now, his back is the problem.

“I can’t control it. The only thing I can do is go out there and play, and if I’m hurting, find ways to try to help my team until it gets better,” Wade said, as he rocked back and forth near the outer wall of the Heat locker room Tuesday afternoon, seeming uncomfortable. “I don’t have the answers. I’m just going to go out there and play.”

His back began to spasm Monday morning at the Heat shootaround practice before Game 4, and got so bad at times during Miami’s 81-71 loss Monday night that teammate Jamaal Magloire had to lift Wade off the bench so he could check back into play.

“It’s just a pride thing,” said Udonis Haslem, Miami’s co-captain alongside Wade. “I know once Dwyane steps on the floor, he’s going to throw all that back stuff to the side and he’s going to perform the way he’s capable of performing.”

On Monday, when the Hawks took home-court advantage back, Wade’s night started with two airballs — he said he didn’t have the strength to get the ball to the rim — and never really got much better.

He finished 9-for-26 from the field, the seventh-worst shooting performance in his 58-game postseason career.

“Our staff is really good with their rehab treatment and stability exercises,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They’ve gotten him healthy to play all season long. … And the thing about Dwyane, he’ll put in the treatment time.”

The Hawks said they fully believe Wade will bounce back.

“He’s the top scorer in the league,” Atlanta point guard Mike Bibby said. “Of course he will.”

Spoelstra also found some solace in Wade’s history in these situations.

He’s gotten dinged up plenty in his career, but typically finds a way to get on the floor.

“Dwyane recovers fast,” Spoelstra said. “He’s still a young guy at 27. He likes to call himself an old man, but his body responds fast. All the work that he did during the summer to prepare his body for an 82-game schedule, all the beating and hammering and jumping and exploding, I think it’ll pay dividends now.”

Wade said his approach would be simple.

“There’s a lot of people banged up,” Wade said. “I’m sure Atlanta has a lot of people banged up. Do your rehab, get back out there and hopefully you’ll feel better.”

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