The Miami Heat aren’t certain how long a sprained right ankle will sideline guard Dwyane Wade, but the team is preparing as if he won’t be available for the start of this week’s pivotal homestand.
Wade was hurt in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 117-104 loss at Denver when he landed awkwardly and turned his ankle while pursuing a loose ball. He immediately left the game and did not return.
X-rays of the ankle were negative, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday he wouldn’t speculate as to how long Wade, the Heat’s second-leading scorer, might be out of action.
“He’s up walking around … but we’re not going to put a timetable on when he’ll come back,” Spoelstra said. “Thankfully, he’s not in a cast or a boot. So we’ll see how he responds each day, and we’ll go from there.”
Wade was receiving treatment for numerous maladies during practice Sunday as the Heat prepared for Tuesday’s home game against San Antonio. Wade, already dealing with a strained calf, missed three consecutive games last week with a bruised left foot — a stretch when the team went 3-0. Miami has since lost three games in a row to finish its recent five-game road trip.
Wade told reporters in Denver that he had never experienced pain from a sprain as severely as what he felt Friday. He also made light of his recent rash of injuries being a sign that he’s getting older. Wade turns 30 on Tuesday.
Amid the early season adversity, Wade’s teammates are preparing as if he probably won’t be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Spurs — and possibly longer.
“We’re going to have to do what we have to do to keep things going,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said. “We’re still expected to win games. It’s not the first time he’s been injured. We all have been injured before. We just have to cope with it. Things have hit us early, so we’ll see where our minds are at going forward.”
The Heat adjusted relatively well the last time Wade was on the mend. Miami opened the five-game trip last week with a triple-overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks without both Wade and LeBron James, who was nursing an ankle injury. The Heat then followed with a win at New Jersey before losing to Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver.
James averaged 32.5 points, 11 assists and 7.5 rebounds during the two games he played while Wade was injured last week. James acknowledged that he alters his approach in games when Wade is not available. That has led to some criticism, such as when James did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter after Wade returned for last Wednesday’s overtime loss at Golden State.
“I have to step it up even more offensively and defensively,” James said. “Revert back to some of the ways when I was back in Cleveland, when I, for the most part, had to be the number one option offensively. I had to — not say force — but just put a little more pressure on myself.”
James said he doesn’t intentionally “dial it back” when he’s playing with Wade. Instead, it’s a matter of making use of all of his options as a facilitator and playmaker.
“You don’t have to force as much,” James said. “You don’t have to worry if I don’t get 30 (points a night), do we still give ourselves a good chance to win? With D-Wade being out, I have to be ready to do a little bit more offensively.”
Wade’s potential absence could pave the way for swingman Mike Miller to make his season debut after recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Miller went through scrimmage drills at the end of Sunday’s practice and said he is ready to play. The Heat have another practice scheduled for Monday before they open a stretch in which they will play eight of their next nine games at home.
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