Not only did Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals cost the Miami Heat a 3-2 series lead heading back to Miami, it also gave all Heat players, personnel and fans something to seriously worry about: Dwyane Wade's injured hip flexor.
Almost eight minutes into the first quarter of Game 5, Wade drove the lane hard and collided with Mavericks' forward Brain Cardinal, who was called for a block. Wade was able to get up with the help of a teammate but almost immediately went to the Miami locker room.
He soon returned in the second quarter but was not on the Heat bench for the beginning of the second half, and although Wade eventually reappeared and played a total of 34 minutes, managing 23 points, he was not quite the same explosive player he had been in games one through four. He was grimacing in pain throughout the game and had a noticeable limp at times.
His injury affected the way he played. Wade wasn't putting the ball on the floor as much, settling for more jump shots (he did shoot 6-for-12) and avoiding heavy contact when on the court.
So the question now becomes: How big of a deal is this injury?
For anyone who has had a hip flexor injury, they know they can be extremely debilitating and, of course, painful. Activities such as running, jumping and even walking can be stressful, and it takes more than two days to fully recover.
Obviously, the Heat have more than an elementary school nurse treating the team's injuries and Wade is in much better shape than all of us, so this injury may not effect him at all (with the help of cortisone shots, of course), much like Dirk Nowitzki's bum left middle finger.
But with the news that Wade participated in only the walk-through of Miami's Saturday practice, sitting out all situations that involved contact, this injury could be more serious than Wade and Co. is leading on.
Any athlete will say that practice is nothing like a game (ask Allen Iverson), so no one can truly be sure how Wade's hip will react when he's bumping bodies on Sunday.
Even though Wade may not be at 100 percent on Sunday, he will still be an effective player, no doubt. His facilitation skills will still be present, and he will definitely give everything he's got considering the do or die situation Miami finds itself in, and maybe, just maybe, the other superstar on the team will step his game up (I'm not talking about Chris Bosh).