Monday, January 16, 2012
Spoelstra plots Heat plan as Wade heals
By Michael Wallace
MIAMI - No Dwyane Wade? No problem for the reeling Heat.
Well, not really.
But Miami must move on regardless, with the Spurs, Lakers and 76ers looming on the schedule this week.
The Heat spent a second straight day shoring up plans for Tuesday's game against the visiting Spurs without Wade, who is out indefinitely as he recovers from ankle, foot and calf injuries. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra reiterated Monday the team has not established a timetable for Wade's potential return to the lineup entering a homestand that includes eight of the next nine games at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Spoelstra faced repeated questions after Monday's practice about Wade's status, without offering many new details on the condition of the Heat's second-leading scorer. Wade had already missed three games earlier this month with a bruised left foot before he sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss at Denver.
"I'm sorry guys, I'm not trying to be coy," Spoelstra said Monday. "But we are going to reevaluate him every day. I don't have another answer for you. That's how we're going to take it. We're going to be very judicious moving forward."
Wade was not in the basketball complex with teammates when team officials allowed reporters in to watch the final stages of Monday's practice. But Spoelstra said Wade had spent part of the workout doing conditioning drills off to the side of the courts, which included a session on the stationary bike.
Where do the Heat (8-4) go from here as they try to end a three-game losing streak? The initial search for a replacement at shooting guard includes veterans James Jones and Shane Battier. Both spent time at Wade's position during Monday's scrimmage sessions. Should Wade require extended time off, swingman Mike Miller could also become an option in the rotation. Miller practiced full speed the past two days and is approaching his season debut after recovering from hernia surgery.
Jones has averaged 4.8 points in just more than 13 minutes a game, but he's shooting a team-best 48.4 percent from 3-point range. Jones played sparingly in recent games - if at all - but had his best stint when he replaced Wade in the lineup for a three-game stint as a starter earlier this month. Jones scored a season-high 14 points in the Heat's Jan. 4 win against Indiana and played a season-high 28 minutes a night later during a triple-overtime victory against Atlanta. Nine of his 18 made 3-pointers on the season came during the three-game stretch without Wade.
Battier has rotated off the bench between small forward and power forward as the Heat's primary perimeter defensive stopper late in games. Despite limited attempts, Battier has made 55.5 percent from 3-point range his last five games to slowly emerged from an early-season shooting slump.
The Heat face a Spurs team that's also without its star shooting guard. Manu Ginobili is expected to miss two months with a broken left hand. The possibility of missing Tuesday's game on his 30th birthday against the Spurs, as well as Thursday's visit from Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, could be as painful for Wade as his lingering injuries.
"I'm sure he probably really wants to play," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "But I also know he could probably use the rest right now so he can be as close to 100 percent. We all want to be as healthy as possible at the most important time of the season."