It's always been considered a disadvantage when the Miami Heat played any game without Dwyane Wade.

The challenge now is more about working him back into the lineup, whenever he returns.

Wade will miss his ninth straight game due to a strained hamstring Friday against the Indiana Pacers. The Heat are being cautious with their approach, meaning he could miss nearly a month if doesn't play another regular season game.

"It's going to be a process when he comes back," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

In all, Wade has missed 28 games this season. The Heat have struggled during his latest stretches of absences, going 5-3 in the last eight. It marks the longest period of inactivity for Wade since sitting the final 21 games of the 2007-08 season after having knee surgery.

While most of the missed games were credited to the Heat's "maintenance program" to rest his knees, the latest setback appears more bothersome. Hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger throughout the season. Forward Michael Beasley missed three weeks earlier this season with similar pain.

"It's definitely one of, aside from the surgical ones, one of the worst you can have," Beasley said. "A sprained ankle, you can ice it and get some treatment on it. A hamstring, it's just one of those things you have to let resolve."

Each game, Spoelstra has said Wade is making progress. The training staff continues to keep him sidelined in fear of the injury worsening. Wade was able to complete a full, individual workout after the morning shootaround.