MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade returned to practice Friday, rested and restless.
Nursing a sore right knee, Wade took part in Miami Heat drills for the first time since their series-clinching first-round victory Sunday at Milwaukee. Like his teammates, Wade is eager to start the second round Monday, but the Heat still don’t know whether they’ll face Chicago or Brooklyn, whose series will decided Saturday in Game 7.
The long break has been boring but beneficial for Miami, affording Wade a chance to mend. He has been dealing with bone bruises around his right kneecap for more than a month.
“It’s good to get back on the court,” he said. “You’ve just got to play through it. At this time of the year, everyone has something they’re dealing with. No matter what I’m dealing with, knock on wood and thank God I’m just able to still be on the court and play.”
Wade described his status as day to day but said he’s in a positive frame of mind about it. While his teammates consider their enforced idleness a drag, they know the timing’s good where Wade’s concerned.
“That has been the most important thing,” Chris Bosh said. “To get him back as close to 100 percent as possible is ideal for us, because we’ll need him a lot as we advance. He’s going to be stronger than ever when he comes back. I expect us to hit the ground running when Monday comes.”
That’s hardly a given, considering the long layoff. Brooklyn avoided elimination for the second game in a row Thursday, and the winner of that series will arrive in Miami battle-tested and on an emotional high.
The Heat, by contrast, could be rusty after their bye week.
“That’s the challenge we have to fight through,” Wade said. “This team has to find its challenges, and I think this is a good challenge.”
Miami one of the older teams in the NBA, so Wade has not been the only Heat player to benefit from time off. But LeBron James said watching other playoffs series was growing old.
“I’m enjoying them as a fan, but we want to get back at it,” James said. “We feel like we’re not even a part of it at this point.”
Bosh said he didn’t even plan to watch Game 7 between the Bulls and Nets.
“It’s really weird having to be ready to play but not playing, and not knowing who you’re playing, and watching other games,” Bosh said. “It’s like we’re in the playoffs, but we’re not.”
Impatience extends beyond the players and coaching staff to scouts stymied in preparing for the next series. They watched in frustration Thursday as the Nets tied their series against Chicago, coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“The scouting staff and our video people just threw up all their papers and DVDs,” he said with a chuckle.
Miami’s eagerness to move on is understandable. The reigning NBA champions have won their past 12 games, and 41 of their past 43.
They swept Milwaukee in the opening round even with Wade at less than his best. He had the worst playoff shooting performance of his career in Game 3, going 1 for 12, but still played 36 minutes and had 11 assists, nine rebounds and five steals.
Then he sat out Game 4, and without him the Heat won by 11 points on the road. Since then, Wade has undergone extensive rehabilitation and treatment.
Miami needs 12 more wins for a second successive NBA title, and Wade knows his high-wire style of play leaves his knee susceptible to a setback.
“When you’re dealing with something, after games you always hoping it doesn’t get any worse or more sore,” he said. “With an injury, you don’t know from day to day. It’s what I’m dealing with. You try to do what you can in between time. When game time comes, hopefully you can get out there and be productive.”