- Michael Wallace, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wade has missed six of the Heat's past eight games and is still dealing with soreness and swelling in the knee, which he has aggravated twice since initially injuring it a month ago.
"The most important thing is to be healthy," Wade said Sunday, addressing the media for the first time since he last played March 29. "So when I feel it, then I'll get back on the court. Obviously, I want to play. But I have to make sure that I'm right. You have to get healthy."
Wade is one of several key players for the defending NBA champions who have missed games recently as the team tries to balance rest and recovery before the April 20 start of the playoffs. LeBron James sat out three games before he returned Saturday from a hamstring injury to score 27 points in a blowout win against Philadelphia.
"[My hamstring] was a little sore this morning, which I knew it would be," James said Sunday. "But I feel better today than I did a week ago. So I'm making progress."
Chris Bosh, who missed Saturday's game, is recovering from a hyperextended right knee and said Sunday he wasn't sure when he might try to return.
Wade, James and Bosh were among Miami's players, coaches and front-office staff members who attended Sunday's annual Heat Family Festival. The carnival-style event held outside of AmericanAirlines Arena raised more than $503,000 for local charities affiliated with the Heat.
While the injuries James and Bosh have been dealing with have been considered minor, there seems to be more concern around the team regarding Wade's situation.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday that all three of his marquee players will be considered day to day for the rest of the regular season. But Spoelstra confirmed that Wade has been held back by consistent swelling in his knee.
Wade initially banged knees with a defender during a March 6 game against Orlando and aggravated the injury when he collided with another player two weeks later against Boston. Wade played through the discomfort a few more games before he sat out a back-to-back set against Charlotte and Orlando on March 24-25.
Wade returned for the March 27 loss in Chicago, which ended the Heat's 27-game winning streak, and also played two nights later in New Orleans. But he had a setback in each of those games, first spraining his right ankle when he stepped on Bulls forward Taj Gibson's foot and then took more hits and falls during the game against the Hornets.
"His body will tell us when we'll play him," Spoelstra said of Wade on Saturday. "He got hit right on top of his knee twice. He was able to resolve it, then get past it. But in the New Orleans game, he got beat up and was on the floor."
Wade seemed to downplay the severity of the swelling and the bruise on Sunday, but alluded to areas around the knee that have been the focus of his recent treatment sessions.
Because the Heat have clinched the No. 1 seed in the East and are closing in on securing the best overall record in the league, the team's approach is that it's best to be cautious down the stretch and get players healthy now.
"We took care of business so we were able to say, 'We have these injuries, so let's take care of it now and be smart,'" Wade said. "I would love to be playing right now. As a player, if you get a couple of days off you, you want to get back to it. But I'm just trying to be smart with my doctors. When I feel like I can get back on the floor, then I will."
Wade has averaged 21.3 points, five rebounds and five assists in 66 games this season. This is the second straight season he has dealt with a knee injury heading into the playoffs.
Wade played through soreness in his left knee late last season and had it drained during the second round of the playoffs. He ultimately had surgery on the left knee last summer after the Heat beat Oklahoma City in the Finals.
With six games remaining on the Heat's regular-season schedule, Wade said he's hopeful he can get back on the court as early as this week. Miami plays Milwaukee on Tuesday, travels to Washington on Wednesday and hosts Boston on Friday.
"Obviously, the biggest thing is to get your wind back and get your legs back under you," Wade said. "But I've been around the block a few times. It'll be a little adjustment, but I'm not overly concerned about it. I do want to get back on the court before the playoffs to get a rhythm. Hopefully, sometime this week I can step back on the court."
Dwyane Wade won't rule out missing the rest of the regular season to recover from a right knee injury, but the Miami Heat star said Sunday he hopes to return before the playoffs.