Dwyane Wade: Why Game 7 May Have a High Cost for the Heat

Will Carroll@injuryexpertSports Injuries Lead WriterJune 3, 2013

May 30, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) after being fouled against the Indiana Pacers in the first quarter of game five of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat face Game 7 with some advantages. They're the home team. They have playoff experience, and likely more talent. They are led by LeBron James.

As the favorite to head to the NBA finals, the Heat certainly can't overlook the Indiana Pacers, but merely having to play them Monday night could be a problem if they end up facing the San Antonio Spurs later this week.

Dwyane Wade has been dealing with an ongoing knee issue for much of the last two seasons. He played through last year's playoffs and had his knee scoped in the offseason, his second procedure on his left knee. While the Heat have never clarified exactly what the problem is, the symptoms match up with a deterioration of the internal function.

It is quite possible that the previous surgery, done in 2007, removed at least a part of the meniscus, leaving the internal workings of his knee without the natural protection. Five years of workload and grinding likely led to the 2012 surgery, which was more of a cleanup than a fix.

As age and a full season of play again grind the bones behind the knee together, Wade is again seeing pain, tenderness and swelling indicative of further damage. The Heat's medical staff has been able to keep Wade functional, but several of the possibilities that could have been open to them had they won Game 6 are now closed.

The NBA Finals are scheduled to begin on Thursday, giving Wade only two off days. Two possible treatments, a cortisone injection into the knee or an injection of Synvisc, a lubricating substance, require at least three days off after the procedure. 

Wade has been willing to go many places for anything that might help reduce pain. Acupuncture once helped him, so there's little doubt that he would go along with something like the injections if possible. Losing Game 6 deprived him and the Heat of some options, leaving them searching for anything to stem the deterioration.

Without rest before the finals, assuming Miami wins, Wade may no longer be a viable option for Erik Spoelstra.