Dwyane Wade expects to play
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade would be evaluated before and after the team's midday shootaround on Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to solidify his status for the game. But Wade participated in the Heat's full workout at their practice facility Tuesday before traveling to Indiana.
"I feel good," Wade said. "I came in today to test it out, and it felt pretty good. So now, hopefully, [Wednesday] it's not as sore and I can continue to progress and get back on the court."
SportsNation: Heat or Pacers in East?
Are the Pacers now a lock for the No. 1 seed? Which team wins the Eastern Conference title? Vote! »
Barring a setback, the Heat (48-21) should be at full strength when they face the Pacers (51-20). Indiana holds a two-game lead over the Heat for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with three weeks remaining in the regular season. The teams split their first two matchups and wrap up their regular-season series in Miami on April 11.
With Wade back in the lineup, the Heat hope to use Wednesday's game to strengthen their push to overtake the Pacers for home-court advantage throughout the East playoffs.
"It's a plus when we've got him in the lineup," LeBron James said of Wade. "He commands attention when he's handling the ball, in the post or on the break. Anytime we can get guys who can attract attention from other guys ... it helps a lot."
Wade has been in and out of the lineup this season, having missed 19 games mostly as part of the Heat's proactive maintenance plan to help strengthen his troublesome right knee. But he's also been dealing with the left Achilles strain since Wednesday, when he sustained the injury during Miami's loss in Boston.
The Heat initially said Wade had been dealing with a sprained ankle. But Wade clarified the injury when he met with reporters after Tuesday's practice, which was his first workout in four days.
Wade said he strained the Achilles in the third quarter against the Celtics, but he finished the game and had 17 points and five assists in 32 minutes. Wade however, struggled with his shot and missed 10 of his 17 attempts from the field. He also played the following game two nights later against Memphis but was sluggish and had just 14 points in 33 minutes.
"I tried to take two or three days off to let it calm down," he said of the Achilles injury. "I wanted to go on the court and play the way I can and not feel the way I did in the Memphis game."
Wade has averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 50 games this season. He had one of his best performances against the Pacers in Miami on Dec. 18, when he scored a season-high 32 points in the Heat's 97-94 victory.
"We know what Dwyane gives us," center Chris Bosh said. "We need him to be fresh in the mind and have a fresh body, too. We need him to play with the same intensity he's been playing with, maybe turn it up a little more, just keep being himself on offense, and we'll be all right."