Limited playing time helps injury-hit Wade flourish for Heat

Thu Feb 6, 2014 4:26pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ongoing knee injuries have been a source of frustration for Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade in recent years but a meticulous program of limiting his workload and playing time has made him an influential force this season.

Nicknamed "Flash" or "D-Wade", Wade has competed for a decade in the National Basketball Association and, like any other league veteran, has had to contend with being repeatedly 'banged up' over time, with his left knee a particular concern.

However, by sitting out games when he does not feel in good shape and by curbing his minutes when he does get to play or take part in team practice, the 32-year-old has averaged 18.7 points this season, along with 4.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds.

Although that is a drop-off for Wade who has a stellar career average of 24.4 points per game, it is an impressive return for a player who had shock wave treatment during the offseason to relieve his persistent knee trouble.

"We wanted to be very smart about it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told Reuters before his team's thrilling 116-112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Wednesday.

"The most important thing is Dwyane getting stronger and healthier and more fit as the season goes on, so we put together a plan and that plan is based on how he feels day-to-day.

"That's the NBA world we live in. When he is feeling better, he is able to train better and train more and we adjust accordingly, based on that, his practices at shoot-arounds and his work-load during games."

Wade, who has had multiple knee surgeries, recorded 14 points on five-of-eight shooting and weighed in with eight assists in 35 minutes as the Heat fended off a spirited fightback by the Clippers in the final quarter on Wednesday.   Continued...

Feb 3, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) defends during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports