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Tuesday afternoon Heat update: Spoelstra addresses Wade's health, other issues

Erik Spoelstra was non-committal today about whether Dwyane Wade, who has been slowed by a bone bruise on his right knee, would play in Game 5 on Wednesday, when the Heat will try to close out the Chicago Bulls.  Spoelstra said he will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

But Wade sounded after Game 4 as though he wants to play. Asked after Monday’s game if it would help to skip Game 5, Wade said, “Nah.”

Spoelstra said any decision on his availability would not be made solely by Wade but collectively among Wade and several others.

Spoelstra said Wade hasn’t needed an MRI since March and hasn’t had his knee drained, unlikely last year’s playoffs. (Wade's injury during last year's playoffs was to his left knee and required arthroscopic surgery in July.) 

“It’s much different than last year,” Spoelstra said. “Structurally, his knee is in a good place…. Nothing new. His status is no different than it was six weeks ago. We all know what he’s dealing with. He’s had to deal with that for the last seven weeks: come in and get treatment. We’ll re-evaluate today and re-evaluate tomorrow and go from there.

“He’ll have to continue to deal with it. He spends as much in our facility as our staff. He’s putting in the time.”

Wade said he has worn tape to move his kneecap into a more comfortable position.
“When you have a bruise, you try to move the kneecap over so it won’t rub,” he said.

Wade went back in the game after banging knees with Jimmy Butler in the second quarter because “he wanted to go back in,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a rhythm player. And he wants to continue to find that rhythm.”

### Spoelstra again defended Wade, who is averaging 11.3 points in the series (on 50 percent shooting) and scored six in Game 4 on 3 for 10 shooting. But he has attempted only two free throws, which is very unlike him.

Spoelstra said he is frustrated that “everyone is just waiting to see that final column on the box score” showing Wade’s points and shot attempts, without acknowledging how he’s contributing in other ways.

"That’s all anybody is looking at,” Spoelstra said, opening his eyes widely for effect, to mimic people looking down the scoring total in a box score. “Everyone is losing absolute focus on his contribution to this series. He’s plus 49 when he’s in the game, which is tied with Shane. So I don’t care about anything else. Help us win. He’s doing that. His minutes have been arguably the most positive of all the minutes. Everything just got lost in translation and taken out of context.

“I understand the interest level in it, but what you dislike about team sports is people lose sight of the main thing being the main thing. Dwyane has proven himself as a warrior. Offensively, he’s still being aggressive. He’s creating triggers for us that open up secondary actions for everybody else. That takes a guy with maturity to be able to do that. Defensively, he has been as active as he can be and disruptive on the ball, creating ball pressure…. At the end of the day, we’re up 3-1.”

### Wade spoke to Indiana coach Tom Crean, his former coach at Marquette, on Monday and “he told me to keep going,” Wade said. Crean told the Chicago Tribune: “He knows how to persevere.”

### Spoelstra said he told his players before this series that stats would take a back seat: “We knew going into this series it wasn’t going to be about averages. That was one thing we had to have a discussion about. Throw out whatever your perceived notions about averages. Different people will have to have an impact on each game. For us, our point guards have been very important in this series and will continue to be because of certain coverages.”

How long did it take to get that message across about the box score? “It’s taken time. Two years ago, this team wasn’t ready for that. We had not developed that type of trust. We hadn’t gone through the fire to be able to get to that point, to feel pain, to reinvent ourselves, to incorporate new players.”

### Spoelstra, on Wednesday’s game: “Our guys have built up perspective that these closeout ones are the toughest one. You’re going to get their last breath effort. You don’t want to give them second life, because they turn that second life into trouble. They are dangerous team.”

But seemingly a tired team, too. Did Spoelstra sense that? “Tough to say,” Spoelstra said, as any coach would.

### Spoelstra is very proud of his young point guards, who have combined to average 20.3 points in this series: 12.5 for Norris Cole, 7.8 for Mario Chalmers.

“We invested in both these young players two years ago,” Spoelstra said. “We felt we had one of the younger point guard tandems in the league and promising guards that we can build on and improve and offer us championship minutes now.

Both under 25 – you just don’t see that and getting significant impactful playoff minutes at the highest level. We felt very good about moving forward with them. That’s one of the main reasons we didn’t sign a veteran point guard. We’ve moved in a direction of playing more point guard basketball this year than we have the last two years. Less with hybrid point guards, more with them.

“It took growth on their part; they are both diligent, both steady workers. They had to earn it, which is tough thing to do playing with some of the players we have."