Dwyane Wade Injury: Star's Knee Issues Won't Derail Heat on Way to Finals

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2013

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 23:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat looks on during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs  against the Milwaukee Bucksat American Airlines Arena on April 23, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Not even an injury to Dwyane Wade can stop the Miami Heat as they try and rampage their way through the Eastern Conference.

The star guard is considered a game-time decision for the Heat's Game 4 matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks (h/t Heat's official Twitter account):

Michael Wallace of ESPN.com gave more specifics as to the extent of the problem:

Wade received treatment during most of the Heat's workout and did not speak with reporters. He issued a statement through a team spokesman that his status hasn't changed.

"I'm day to day, getting treatment around the clock," Wade said in the statement. "There's nothing more to add."

Wade has been dealing with multiple bruises in his knee for more than a month, and had missed eight-of-10 games at one point late in the regular season to treat the injury. He has played in all three games of the series against the Bucks, but is coming off the worst playoff shooting effort of the season in Tuesday's 104-91 victory in Game 3.

Right now, the decision to sit him down for Game 4 should be a pretty easy one. The Heat have dominated this series. Milwaukee has hung around for stretches, but Miami has won each of the first three games by at least 12 points.

With such a commanding first-round performance from the Heat, Erik Spoelstra can risk taking Wade out and not have it cost the team too much. Even if Miami surrenders a game, the Bucks have to win four straight games to advance. Unless Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings average 30 points apiece for the remainder of the series, that's not gonna happen.

Having that three-game lead will be huge for Miami, Wade in particular. He can take a rest and let that knee get healthier. Wade's not needed against the Bucks. You can consider that series over.

It's doubtful Wade will get back to a hundred percent in these playoffs, but you'd still love him on the court even at 80 percent, or even 70, especially against either the Chicago Bulls or Brooklyn Nets in the Conference Semifinals. Then you'd probably have to deal with the New York Knicks in the Conference Finals.

Without Wade, Miami would be fighting an uphill battle; however, it shouldn't come to that.

Since he's been dealing with the knee injury for a while, the issue doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would keep Wade out of the postseason. Plus, he's one of the toughest players in the league. As long as he has two knees to play on, he's gonna stay on the court when it matters the most.

Fortunately, the Heat can rest him and save him for later, more important games.

Even better for Miami right now, look at the contribution the team is getting from its guards off the bench.

Ray Allen has gone for 20 points each in Games 1 and 3. Norris Cole is averaging 6.7 points in the series. That's not a ton of points, but he's been extremely valuable for Miami nonetheless. If these two continue at their respective levels, the Heat are still a dangerous team, whether Wade's hobbled or not.

The Heat are clearly the class of the Eastern Conference. The rest of the playoff teams are fighting for the right to be dispatched by Miami at some point along the way. Not having Wade would hurt. But with the time he can rest right now, Wade should be able to return to a level that allows the Heat to remain the East's best.