View Full Version : With D-Wade sidelined, it's feeling like a Heat cave
With D-Wade sidelined, it's feeling like a Heat cave
By DWAIN PRICE
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
The Miami Heat's chances of repeating as NBA champion rest solely on the shoulder of guard Dwyane Wade. That is, Wade's dislocated left shoulder.
Wade was injured during Wednesday's game at Houston.
The player who torched the Mavericks in last year's NBA Finals must now decide whether to rehab his shoulder and miss the next six weeks, or have possible season-ending surgery.
Either way, the Heat might already be done this season. Miami is only two games ahead of New Jersey in the loss column -- and three ahead of New York -- in the race for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
With no Wade around, the Heat will have to get more out of Shaquille O'Neal, and that may be asking too much.
In other words, don't expect the Heat to be playing in late April when the postseason begins.
"It's something that can't happen overnight," Heat coach Pat Riley said of adjusting to life without Wade. "But other players have had the ability and have done it on other teams, and [they] will have to step up.
"Now they will have the opportunity to not force the action, but to make more plays. So we're going to need that out of them."
After Wade and O'Neal, the Heat's next highest scorer is forward Jason Kapono, who averages 11 points per game.
"I'm probably going to be taking the bulk of the shots," O'Neal said. "And when I get doubled, I'll be kicking it out to my guys, and they just have to be ready to shoot.
"We've got to either have one or two or three guys just come in and try to fill that void, and I'm going to try to fill that void, also. We just have to dig deep down and not really feel sorry for ourselves and just get it done."
After digging out of an 0-2 hole and beating the Mavericks in six games in last year's Finals, maybe this just isn't the Heat's year.
The team's three most visible personalities -- O'Neal, Wade and Riley -- have all missed extensive time this season with various injuries.
"This is just a setback that we're going to have to deal with and overcome," Heat center Michael Doleac said. "We've been having kind of a rough road this whole season as far as injuries go.
"So it's another one in the process and we've just got to absorb it, and everybody's got to step up and do a little bit more. You've got to look at it as an opportunity to move forward and grow as a team more than you look at it as a setback or something that you'll have to overcome."
Heat guard Eddie Jones can certainly relate to what Wade is experiencing. Earlier in his career, Jones missed 15 games after dislocating his left shoulder and decided to forego surgery until after the season.
Jones' rehab lasted six months, forcing him to miss time the following season. That's the tough decision now facing Wade.
"When I saw that pain on his face [Wednesday], I was like, 'Oh, I know what it is,'" Jones said. "He's got to give it time to heal, and he's got to give it time to rehab.
"You've got to understand that injuries are part of the game, and you can't let it get the best of you. What you do is... whatever it takes to get back, and I'm sure Dwyane will."
In the meantime, things could get ugly for the Heat before they get better. Suddenly, it seems like a decade has passed since the Heat celebrated its championship.
02-25-2007, 04:49 AM
Shaq couldnt carry this team, neither could J-Will. Say bye-bye to the heat! ;)
A lot to shoulder
The Heat, currently in the eighth and final playoff spot, will face an uphill battle to make the postseason after Dwyane Wade's potential season-ending injury.
BY MICHAEL WALLACE
The pain in Dwyane Wade's dislocated left shoulder might only be matched by the agony the Heat could experience attempting to stay in playoff contention without him.
It's one of many schools of thought throughout the Eastern Conference regarding the Heat, which could be without Wade for the rest of the season and, perhaps, the playoffs.
The loss of Wade, the NBA's third-leading scorer, for any extended period will not only drastically affect the defending NBA champions, but an entire conference that's even more up for grabs.
As Wade continues to weigh the option of season-ending surgery for the shoulder he injured Wednesday in Houston, one of his best friends and biggest rivals will visit AmericanAirlines Arena today with one of several teams aiming to capitalize on the Heat's misfortunes.
''It's a bad situation for a very good friend of mine, and I know he's not dealing with it so well,'' Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said. ``I'm definitely not happy about it.''
Just how much Wade's injury will hurt the Heat's chances to make the playoffs has been a subject of leaguewide debate since he was taken off the court in a wheelchair in last week's loss to the Rockets.
The Heat (26-28), which had won seven of eight before the All-Star break and appeared to be making a push in the standings, has since lost two in a row entering what could be its most critical week of the season.
Miami holds a one-game lead over New Jersey and a two-game edge over New York for the eighth seed in the playoffs. The Heat's run of four games against playoff contenders continues Monday at New York and Wednesday at Washington before it returns home Friday to play Detroit.
''Everyone thought that when [Miami] finally got healthy they'd be one of the teams vying for [a title],'' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. ``. . . I still think they'll make the playoffs.
STILL IN THE HUNT
Opposing players and coaches believe the Heat has enough experienced players around center Shaquille O'Neal to stay in contention. They said Eddie Jones, Gary Payton, Jason Williams and Antoine Walker could collectively fill some Wade's void.
Accounting for Wade's 28.8 points per game is one thing. But finding someone who could take over in the fourth quarter and score almost half of those points is a far tougher task Heat coach Pat Riley faces.
''Wade is a top player in this league. . . .'' said Bulls coach Scott Skiles, whose team is fourth in the conference standings and 4 ˝ games up on the Heat. ``They've got a great coach and one of the 50 greatest players of all-time. They'll still be a good team.''
The Heat was 16-19 during a stretch when O'Neal missed 35 games with a knee injury this season. But Miami is just 1-7 this season without Wade, who also missed four games with a sprained wrist and two after having wisdom teeth extracted.
ESPN basketball analyst Greg Anthony said having Wade out of the lineup also removes the Heat from the conference elite. With Wade, Miami was widely considered the favorite to challenge Detroit, which has the East's best record at 35-19.
Without Wade, that all changes.
''The team that benefits the most is the Chicago Bulls,'' Anthony said. ``With Wade being out, the Bulls can find themselves in the conference finals against Detroit.''
TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley believes the Heat has at least one factor in its favor -- with or without Wade: Geography.
''It's still the East,'' Barkley said. ``Nobody's running away from anybody in that conference.''
If Wade remains out, the Heat would have 29 regular-season games to regroup and find a rhythm. It's more than enough time to make Miami a dangerous playoff dark horse if it can avoid too steep of a stumble.
''Anybody assuming they're going to drop out of this thing is rushing to judgment a little bit,'' said Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, whose team overcame midseason injuries to forward Jermaine O'Neal the past two seasons to make the playoffs. ``In our case, it's happened two years in a row.''
The Heat isn't the only team this season that has had to face losing its best player for an extended period.
The Rockets have played 27 games -- and counting -- without center Yao Ming. Raptors forward Chris Bosh, Celtics guard Paul Pierce, Bucks guard Michael Redd and Hornets guard Chris Paul are among the elite players who have missed a dozen or more consecutive games this season.
Saunders, the Pistons' coach, said it's not just a coincidence that seven of the league's top players who have been injured -- including Ming and Memphis' Pau Gasol -- have played for their native national teams last summer. It has led to less rest for the players in the offseason and more wear and tear on their bodies.
''It's just another situation where it shows you how vulnerable every team can be,'' Nets coach Lawrence Frank said about this season's high-profile injuries.
It's an ordeal the Pistons, somehow, have managed to avoid the past three seasons. The injury bug seems to be allergic to Detroit's team.
''I don't think I've ever seen so many key guys go down like this before or right around the All-Star break,'' Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said. ``Dwyane not being there is going to affect them. I don't know how much. They still have the most dominant player in the game in Shaq.''
Opinions varied through the league on the Heat's chances without Wade, but it was a topic Orlando coach Brian Hill didn't want to touch.
''I'm not talking about any team's injury situation and giving them locker-room fodder for when we play them down the road,'' said Hill, whose team is battling for one of the final playoff spots with Miami. ``I just don't want to do it.''
The Heat held its first practice Saturday since Wade's shoulder injury, but Riley said Wade has yet to make his decision.
Wade dislocated his left shoulder and could either undergo season-ending surgery or go through about six weeks of rehabilitation and attempt a comeback late in the season.
''It's really up to him,'' Riley said. ``It's been explained to him. He understands what this is about. A lot of other players have gone through the same type of injury and made decisions based on the severity of the injury or where they were in the season and what kind of opportunities their team might have had that year. Dwyane's a warrior. He's a real soldier. He wants to win, wants his team to win and I think he's going to make the best decision that's going to be in the best interest of the Heat and himself.''
In the meantime, Riley was annoyed by the idea that his team will collapse in Wade's absence.
''All of a sudden we've become a bunch of amateurs and all of a sudden we don't have a shot and all of a sudden all of these things start to come out,'' Riley said.
``We're 4 ˝ games, basically, out of a home-court spot in the playoffs.''
Miami Herald sportswriter Israel Gutierrez contributed to this report.
Needed: the Shaq of old, not the old Shaq
By DAN LE BETARD
It is time for you to save the season, Shaq. Time for you to reach into your past one more time and be what you were. You have 28 games to remind Miami why you were greeted here with a parade and just recently given a $100 million extension. Twenty-eight games to prove your worth on a team Dwyane Wade has wrestled away from you.
You up for it?
You've always taken teams deep into the playoffs, no matter your uniform or your teammates. You've always made your sidekick look better than he was, no matter who he was. You've made champions of spent and limited players such as Rick Fox and Ron Harper and Gary Payton and Antoine Walker.
So what is being requested of you now isn't very much at all.
Be better than Orlando, New Jersey or New York for the next 28 games. Just keep Miami afloat until Wade makes a hero's return. Just play .500 basketball against a soft schedule and give your teammates a chance to defend their throne. A chance. That's all Miami needs from you now. A chance.
Is that too much to ask of the most physically dominant player in the history of this sport?
When asked if you've ever encountered a player with strength equal to yours, your response is, ``Never, ever, never, ever, ever.''
Now would be a good time to see that kind of strength.
An eight seed in the playoffs is all Miami needs if Wade can return. An eight seed gets Miami back in the game. That isn't asking much of a specimen like you, Shaq. You have not missed the playoffs since your rookie season. Basketball is a game of stars, and there rarely has been one bigger than you.
Is a winning record for 28 games really too much to ask?
Phil Jackson ended your relationship by questioning your work ethic, but you've stayed fit for Pat Riley, even when injured. That is not a small thing. You are immensely proud, and your legacy matters to you. Wade carried Miami through last season's playoffs, to the trophy, but he doesn't get anywhere near it now unless you push his wheelchair from here. You symbolically handed Wade the MVP trophy on the stage after vanquishing Dallas, but he is in too much pain to carry any of this now. It is on you. Here. The team is yours. Do you still have the strength to carry it?
Payton came here to play with you. Udonis Haslem took less money to stay here because he knows how easy the job is next to you. Alonzo Mourning, who had nothing left to prove, returned for the honor of following in your size-22 footsteps. You made basketball matter more the moment you stepped into town, but the franchise is gasping and going underwater with Wade out. You are the world's largest life preserver. Are you prepared to give Miami life? Or is your weight and age going to be an anchor?
Athletes your size and age aren't usually asked to do this much heavy lifting at 35. But what choice does Miami have? All the pieces here were meant to fit around you and Wade. While you were out, Jason Kapono shot an unprecedented percentage from three-point range because of how Wade drew defenders. Wade did his job, keeping Miami in the game with you out. Now, that's your job. To keep Kapono afloat, to keep Riley afloat, to keep the franchise afloat.
You are less consistent than you ever have been. You can't summon the 28-point and 12-rebound averages simply by getting off the bus. But you still are capable of force. You used Dikembe Mutombo, a giant by any measurement, as a Q-tip the other day. And you flashed that pride that is almost as large as you are by dunking on him and wagging an index finger in his face. Miami needs that more now than at any point since you've been here.
Basketball has been very good to you. You have a Star Island mansion with an extravagant backyard area you call Shaqapulco. You estimate your wardrobe alone is worth $2 million. You have more cars than you can count and so many gadgets that there are places in your home accessed only with a scanning of your fingertips. Time to earn those big checks again, Shaq, to repay this team's faith. Your boss, your city and all the Heat's employees from the front office to the end of the bench are banking on you.
Twenty-eight games to push back a couple of mediocre teams.
That can't be too much to ask of one of the giants of sports.
I actually hope the heat make the playoffs, that Diva returns for the playoffs, and that they get back to a finals rematch with the Mavs. I doubt it will happen, but that would be my fondest wish.
02-27-2007, 10:14 PM
BREAKING NEWS... the doctors can't examine Wade because everytime they touch him, they get called for a foul... 17 doctors have already been fouled out and sent home for the night... STAY TUNED!
02-27-2007, 10:17 PM
MIAMI--When Dwyane Wade was wheeled off the court with a shoulder injury in a game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, many fans wondered if he would ever walk again. But the wheelchair-bound Wade isn’t about to give up just yet. In an inspiring interview with the Miami Herald, Wade vowed “to get out of this chair and walk again” despite having a dislocated shoulder.
“I will walk,” Wade said, his arm in a sling and a blanket covering his legs. “I will play basketball again. I don’t care how much rehab it takes and how much adversity I have to overcome. I’ve never been the kind of person to run away from a challenge. Have you ever seen my Converse commercial? I keep falling down, and I keep getting back up. That’s my thing, and broken shoulder or not, I will rise from this wheelchair and walk again.”
02-27-2007, 10:29 PM
I haven't seen this in writing but a national talk show host said that Wade wasn't taking Riley's calls before Sunday. Apparently the coach had to send Wade a message through Fed Ex.
It makes sense. I imagine that Riley's trying to talk him into rehabbing the the shoulder and attempting a come back for the playoffs. In other words "taking one for the team". This from the coach who deserted the team when things got tough.
Stat of the night last night: Knicks - 39 FTA's...Heat - 8 FTA's
Wade is such a Wuss. Hell my mom fell off a latter at age 76 and broke a shoulder. She was going to drive herself to the emergency room over 30 miles away until family stepped in and forced her to let them take her. And I'm pretty sure my mom who will be 80 this year would beat the living hell out of Wade in a fight and send him home crying to mama. This whiner baby is probably the biggest wuss of all time.
02-28-2007, 12:17 AM
Rep to LRB's mother.
02-28-2007, 12:40 AM
How can you not take joy in this?
At first I thought.....hmm too bad, no rematch. Because I think we can all agree that we would love a rematch.
But besides that unlikely scenario, mostly I'd just like to point out how much joy im taking in the whole thing.
Love you D-Whistle
They just rolled off their ninth in a row. I woudln't be surprised to see Shaq show up on some MVP ballots.
MIAMI -- Besides rookie Chris Quinn (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/1113431), there's only one man in the Miami Heat (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/teams/page/MIA) locker room without a championship ring.
And Eddie Jones (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/6643) is playing like he desperately wants one.
He hit his first five 3-point attempts to give Miami to a big early lead, and the defending NBA champion Heat extended the NBA's longest current winning streak to nine games with a 103-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/teams/page/SAC) on Friday night.
"I want to feel what they felt last year," Jones said. "I've always wanted to feel that. I just want to know how it feels. I'm driven by that, just to feel that, to play on the best team, the best in the world."
For now, he'll settle for being on a team virtually tied for first with Washington in the Southeast Division.
Shaquille O'Neal (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/6725) scored 23 points, while Jones and Jason Williams (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/20639) finished with 19 apiece for the Heat (36-29), who've won 14 straight at home and are now two percentage points behind the Wizards (35-28), who were idle Friday and host New Orleans on Saturday.
"We got off to a great start, shot the ball extremely well, moved the ball well, maintained a double-digit lead pretty much throughout," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Eddie and Jason were on fire with 10 3s, Shaq dominated inside ... we've just got to keep the thing going."
Ron Artest (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/139045) had his first double-double in more than a month with 32 points and 11 rebounds for Sacramento, which dropped its fifth straight. Mike Bibby (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/20589) scored 21 points and Shareef Abdur-Rahim (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/6455) added 18 for the Kings.
Kevin Martin (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/498297), who was averaging 25.8 points in his last 10 games, finished with nine on 3-for-9 shooting for Sacramento, which has lost seven straight against the Heat.
"They're the team we have to measure ourselves up against," Artest said. "They're the defending champs, so that's our measuring stick right now."
James Posey (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/139089) added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Miami, and Udonis Haslem (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/404646) added 11 points -- his fourth straight game in double figures.
Jones went 5-for-6 and Williams 5-for-9 from 3-point range for Miami, which shot a season-best 62 percent (13-for-21) from beyond the arc.
"Give Miami a ton of credit," Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "They spaced the floor with their 3-point shooting and put us in a tough position early."
Miami improved to 10-2 since reigning NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade (http://www.sportsline.com/nba/players/playerpage/400578) dislocated his left shoulder, and 16-4 since Jones -- who started the year in Memphis -- returned for his second stint with the Heat.
And Riley is calling Jones' homecoming a "godsend," with good reason.
He's averaged 16.1 points on 53 percent shooting in his last seven games, hitting double digits in all but one of those contests.
"How quickly people forget the type of players we've got in this locker room," Haslem said. "We've got guys who've made All-Stars, who've made a lot of money and had great careers in this league and can still make plays. ... And this is the situation they're used to being in."
Jones had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, during a 15-0 first-quarter run by Miami, which led 24-17 after the opening period. Another big spurt -- a 25-12 burst to open the second quarter -- gave the Heat a 49-27 edge with 6:01 left until halftime, before the Kings began chipping away.
Artest had nine points in a 3½-minute stretch late in the second, helping Sacramento get to 56-45 at intermission. And when Artest hit a 3-pointer early in the third, the Kings were within 57-48 -- but the Heat went back to the long ball to answer.
Williams hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back to double digits 13 seconds after Artest connected, and the Heat went 5-for-9 from behind the arc in the third to take an 84-70 lead into the fourth. Miami's lead stayed in double figures until the final 1:57, and the winning streak continued.
"Guys are contributing all over the place," Jones said. "That's team basketball right there. And we're playing team basketball probably better than anybody right now."
Since acquiring O'Neal, Miami is 40-1 at home in February and March.
Heat guard Gary Payton strained his right groin in the second quarter and wasn't available for the second half, which meant Quinn played for the second time in Miami's last 10 games. Quinn checked in early in the fourth quarter for Williams, who'd played 18 straight minutes.
Artest leaped over courtside fans and trotted up a few stairs after knocking a pass away in the third quarter.
The Kings haven't won in Miami since Dec. 9, 2001.http://www.sportsline.com/print/nba/gamecenter/recap/NBA_20070316_SAC@MIA
03-17-2007, 12:09 PM
Very surprised at their play. I guess walker's ft% has gotten over 33%.
Yup...38%. Thank you lord for not having to watch antoine walker anymore.
03-17-2007, 03:41 PM
wade makes me sick. he has all the talent in the world but he is a whinny diva. it's too bad...
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