To say Sunday's playoff opener against the Charlotte Bobcats at AmericanAirlines Arena could be a breakthrough stands as the height of hyperbole. The Miami Heat, after all, have won the past 16 meetings. Yet to Dwyane Wade, Game 1 of the best-of-seven series could bring him something he has hasn't been part of in nearly a month: winning. Out the previous two games before straining his left hamstring in the March 26 road loss to the Indiana Pacers, having missed the following nine games due to the ailment, and then returning for what turned into a three-game losing streak to end the season, Wade has not been on the court for a victory since scoring 14 points in a March 21 win against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. It has been a frustrating ride that saw Wade miss 28 games this season, mostly for a maintenance program for his balky knees. And yet through it all, including being limited to a maximum of 24 minutes in each of his three games this past week, Wade believes he is in a better place than a year ago, when his knee issues had him out of the lineup just four games into the postseason. "It's a lot better than going into it last year," he said, with the team given Thursday off before beginning playoff preparations Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena. "Now hopefully move on from that, and have a better first round health-wise than I did first round versus the Bucks last year, when I had to miss that game up in Milwaukee. So I look forward to Game 1 and hopefully not having any setbacks." Wade, for the most part, has been fluid amid his return, making all seven of his shots in the first half of his return in Saturday's road loss to the Atlanta Hawks, then scoring or assisting on the Heat's first 19 points in Wednesday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. "These were a good three games for me," he said. "It's better than going into the playoffs without playing. So I'm glad I was able to get a few games in with different teams, different styles, see how they guarded me a little differently." What he hasn't had is much in the way of continuity with LeBron James, with James sitting out the final two games to rest up for what could be a fourth-consecutive two-month playoff grind, the Heat advancing to the NBA Finals in each of their first three Big Three seasons. "I'm not worried about continuity with him at all," Wade said. "The biggest thing is we both know what we need to do and we just have to do it. So we've played together for four years, so it's enough continuity right there. So we'll be fine." There are few doubts about James when it comes to the postseason. The last time James faced the Bobcats, he scored a franchise-record 61 points. That, of course, was a March 3 home game Wade sat out to rest his knees.
Rejuvenated Wade hungers for victory entering postseason
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 18