May 14, 2013
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
But one of those setbacks could be an injured Dwyane Wade, who left Game 4 with a bruised knee, one that has regularly bothered him this season. With the Heat leading the series three games to one and the Bulls still without superstar Derrick Rose, why bother risking Wade for Game 5?
Why not let him rest for the game and either return for a Game 6 or for the Eastern Conference Finals?
Let's start with an update on Wade, via Michael Wallace of ESPN:
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade received extensive treatment Tuesday on his bruised right knee and is considered questionable for Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade will be evaluated by the team's medical staff after treatment throughout Tuesday and Wednesday before his playing status is determined.
"His status hasn't changed," Spoelstra said of Wade, who has multiple bruises and has been dealing with soreness in his right knee for more than two months. "We all know what he's dealing with. He's day to day. We'll evaluate him today. We'll evaluate him tomorrow and go from there."
Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder what it is like playing without Russell Westbrook—or Kevin Durant what it's like to play without his sidekick—and you can see why the Heat should take the cautious route when it comes to Wade.
Besides, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh leading the way and a veteran supporting cast, the Heat would still probably be favored in Game 5. At this point, the Chicago Bulls are running on fumes and bandages, beat up as that team is.
It's not as though Wade has been tearing it up in the postseason. He's averaging just 12.9 points per game and shooting 43.9 percent from the field, and his knee has obviously limited him throughout the playoffs.
Still, the Heat need a healthy Wade—or at least a productive one—if they are to repeat as champions. The team is obviously much better when he is on the court, and his ability to run the pick-and-roll to perfection is a staple of the Heat's attack.
That's why letting him rest for Game 5 makes sense. Chances are, the Heat win without him, but if not, so what? So what if the Heat have to go back to Chicago for Game 6? It's not as though the Bulls are suddenly going to become less beat up and more talented.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to this—do you risk Wade hurting himself again to end the series in five games, or do you give him some time to rest and recuperate even if it could potentially extend the series against the Bulls, knowing the long-term goal is a title?
Wade will probably want to play, citing the fact that he's been playing through this injury for months. But just as he sat out Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round, he should remain firmly attached to the bench in Game 5 against the Bulls.
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