Dwyane Wade, Heat biding time for health ‘breakthrough’

MIAMI — Dwyane Wade sounded resigned to his knees being a daily topic throughout the season.

“We’re going day by day around here,” the Miami Heat guard said following Thursday’s late-morning practice. “So the Wade Watch? You keep watching I guess.”

Normally personable and accommodating with the media, Wade had given the impression he wasn’t eager to give daily updates about this knees after sitting out several preseason games.

But 22 games into the regular season, it’s clear Wade and the Heat are taking a long-term approach to try and make sure the All-Star guard will be ready for the playoffs. The Heat (16-6) are 3-3 when the guard hasn’t suited up.

“I continue to tell coach (Erik Spoelstra), ‘I’m a player, so it’s going to have to be more your decision than mine,'” Wade said. “I will let him know how I feel. I’m not really looking at the calendar and saying, ‘I don’t really want to play against this team, this team’ — not at all.  It’s more so how I’m feeling.”

Wade has endured chronic knee issues since undergoing surgery to remove the meniscus from his left knee while at Marquette. This past summer, he received shockwave treatment, and it could take six months to fully benefit from that procedure.

The veteran has been focusing on daily knee treatments and being smart about participating in practices and games — e.g. avoiding back-to-back situations — while he seeks what he termed a “breakthrough.”

“You have be consistent with your work. You never know when that moment’s going to come, when it’s going to feel amazing,” Wade said. “Last year, my knee was bothering me from April and then I got a breakthrough in Game 4 of the Finals, when I felt good finally.

“I was like, ‘Well, it’s been frustrating all this time but I stayed consistent to my work.’ I got my breakthrough when we needed it most.”

Asked how he would define “breakthrough,” Wade replied. “It doesn’t hurt as bad, and it doesn’t limit you as bad.”

The Heat were back at their American Airlines Arena practice court Thursday for the first time following a 2-2 road trip. They’ll play five straight home games before a four-game trip that will begin with a Christmas Day game at the Los Angeles Lakers.

With no back-to-back games until Dec. 27-28 at Sacramento and Portland, it’s conceivable Wade plays in all of Miami’s games until then.

Of course, the team might have other ideas. Even Wade admitted that being ruled inactive can be used to protect him from himself.

“Sometimes,” he said, “and sometimes you have to protect yourself from (the opponents).”

Wade is averaging 18.4 points on 52.3 percent shooting this season. His 2.1 steals are higher than his total in any of the previous four seasons.

“Coming into the season, we all sat down, we all talked about this year and what’s my expectations, what’s best for the team,” Wade said. “Obviously for me, I would love to play in all 82 games … (actually) 80 — I would love to take the last two off because we had a good record.

“But obviously, coming off my knee problem last year, just trying to be smart this year, not be on the court and hurt my team. Sometimes you can be out there and hurt your team more than when you’re not on the floor and you can hurt yourself in the process, as well.”

Wade talked about being a young player, and wondering why teammates would make a big deal when veteran guard Eddie Jones dunked. At 31, Wade said he understands “the big deal.”

“It’s about growing, being smart and understanding your body differently than your body at 23,” he said. “I laugh now, but I see these young guys, the Paul Georges and these guys, and I say, ‘Man, that was the good ol’ days when you felt that way.’

“When you get about 28, you start reaching that other side. And then by 30, it’s another side. Those (young) guys will see one day.”